There is a concern that shared web hosting can affect your search engine ranking. This concern arises largely from the possibility that your web host could assign you an IP address that is also used by porn and spam websites. This is a genuine concern and one that we shall discuss here.
Your web host assigns you an IP address for your website. If you have paid for your own IP address, this is not an issue. However, most people do not understand the concept of IP, let alone IP addresses, and are at the mercy of their web hosting provider.
IP Addresses and Web Hosting Services
IP (Internet Protocol) addresses identify your computer on the internet and are provided by your web host. With shared hosting, you will be sharing IP addresses with many other websites. This in itself has no affect on your search engine ranking.
However, should your website or domain share IP addresses with domains that Google and other search engines regard as being toxic (spammy and porn sites) there might be the possibility of your site being associated with these and consequently lose search engine ranking.
You might then think that it would be better for you to pay for a dedicated IP address. Such addresses are usually provided only with the more expensive web hosting options. However, if you look around, you can actually purchase IP addresses.
Matt Cutts, Google’s webspam guru, has stated that you should not worry very much about shared web hosting affecting you search engine ranking. To quote Matt: “There is no PageRank difference whatsoever between these two cases” (regular hosting vs. dedicated IP). He says that it does not figure very highly on his list of things to bother about when seeking high Google rankings. That seems good enough, but how accurate is his statement?
You could try it yourself if your website or blog is hosted by a firm such as HostGator. This web hosting firm offers a dedicated IP address with its Baby Hosting plan for an extra $2 per month. If this gives you a feeling of extra security then the $2 is worth the cost.
You could try it for a few months and then stop the payment, reverting back to the shared IP. Check your Google ranking before and after – you should see no difference. While there are no guarantees of that of course, that is the result that most people should see according to Matt Cutts.
Shared Hosting and Loading Speed
Shared hosting involves shared use of a server. If there is a particular demand on that server at any one time, it is possible for the loading speed of your website to be slower. So too could be the operating speed, particularly if you are sharing with another high-traffic website. It all depends on the relative traffic volume of the domains sharing the server and how efficient that server is at allocating resources.
The loading speed of your website is one of the factors considered by Google in its ranking algorithm. So too might be the transition speed between one page and another. Not only that but if your landing page is slow in loading, people might leave early. This will increase your bounce rate which is yet another known factor take into account in your ranking.
In order to improve your rankings, make sure your landing pages loads quickly. Remove any slow-loading complex Flash presentations and check yourself that your page loads quickly. Nobody likes to click on a link and then have to sit back waiting for the page to resolve. You not only lose potential visitors, but Google punishes you a) for slow loading, and b) for a high bounce rate – a ‘double whammy!’
You can use any of the following sites to check your loading speed free:
Quality of the Shared Server
The shared hosting services available online vary in their attention to detail such as quality maintenance of their servers. The servers are of extreme importance, whether you share a server with many other domains or have paid for a VPS or even a dedicated server.
If a server has not been properly maintained, then this could result in slow resolution of a website or blog and its graphics. While an isolated incidence may not noticeably affect your Google ranking, repeated inefficiencies and failures could result in a drop, particularly in a very competitive niche.
Another aspect of shared servers and their quality is that of malware. If a site has been identified by Google as being malware, then your website could equally be declared the same if your web host has not already take action. This could result in an ‘infected’ statement beside your search results or even the URL being unable to be accessed due to network security applications making the site unattainable.
When a Dedicated IP Address is Beneficial
Apart from the fact that a dedicated IP address is generally safer than using a shared IP, there are certain situations where it is positively beneficial. One example particularly concerns trackback spam. Trackbacks are notifications that other bloggers have published your post on their blog – and include a link back from your blog to the other blog. Many other blogs can be spam – casino or Viagra sites, for example.
Askimet will check trackbacks for spam and either allow them or not. Such spammy blogs sites using the same web host as you will be disallowed by many other blogs. The result may be that if you send trackbacks to other sites, hoping for a link back, you may be blocked by Askimet because you have the same IP address as the spammy sites. The only solution is to have a dedicated IP address.
Another reason for using a dedicated IP is when you run a shopping cart system on your blog. In such a case, it will generally be necessary to have an SSL certificate to convince your visitors that their data is secure. For this, you will need a dedicated IP address to be certain that your customers’ data is secure during purchasing transactions.
Shared Web Hosting and Search Engine Ranking: Summary
Shared web hosting has virtually no effect on search engine ranking. The effect of switching to a dedicated IP address has virtually no SEO benefits except in some very rare cases. These cases involve large sites that tend to load slowly that are hosted on a server also catering for other slow-loading sites. This is particularly the case with landing pages containing large Flash presentations.
In such cases, a dedicated IP address would help speed up loading the site. Other reasons for using a dedicated IP would include e-commerce with an SSL certificate and blogs with trackbacks from potentially spammy sites. Other than these, a shared IP address will have little or no effect on SEO or your search engine ranking.