SEO isn’t always clear-cut. Sometimes, things that shouldn’t theoretically reduce your website ranking can make it difficult for your website’s growth.
Various sources claim that Google uses a website’s IP address as a ranking factor. But how accurate are these claims? Read on to find out if a website’s IP address can really impact negatively on your search engine rankings.
In 2010, Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s Webspam team, was asked if spammy websites on the same server would impact negatively the ranking of a client’s website.
“I understand, and Google understands, that shared web hosting happens, you can’t really control or help who else is on that IP address or Class C subnet. The other thing is that if you were to take action just on that Class C subnet or IP address, the spammers are pretty savvy and the spammers would often migrate and go to a new IP address. So typically it’s not the most scalable way to tackle things.”
In 2016, during a Google Webmaster Central Office Hours, Google Search Advocate, John Mueller was asked if it was a problem to have all of a group’s websites on the same c block of IP addresses.
“No, that’s perfectly fine. So that’s not something where you artificially need to buy IP address blocks to just shuffle things around.
And especially if you are on a CDN, then maybe you’ll end up on an IP address block that’s used by other companies. Or if you’re on shared hosting, then these things happen. That’s not something you need to artificially move around.”
Two years later, during a Webmaster Central office-hours hangout, Mueller answered a person who was concerned about a drop in traffic on various websites that shared the same IP address and had very similar content and site structure.
“That’s really not a problem for us. It’s really common for sites to be on the same IP address. That’s kind of the way the internet works. A lot of CDNs (content delivery networks) use the same IP address as well for different sites, and that’s also perfectly fine.
I think the bigger issue that he might be running into is that all these sites are very similar. So, from our point of view, our algorithms might look at that and say this is kind of a collection of doorway sites.”
He also was questioned if the location of an IP address affected a website’s ranking. He just said, “Nope.”
In 2020, Mueller was asked if there would be an IP-level action taken if a website on a same IP address purchases links.
“Shared hosting & CDNs on a single IP is really common. Having some bad sites on an IP doesn’t make everything on that IP bad,” stated Mueller.
A few months later, he was asked about bad neighborhoods impacting negatively search rankings, he said:
“I’m not aware of any ranking algorithm that would take IPs like that into account. Look at Blogger. There are great sites that do well (ignoring on-page limitations, etc.), and there are terrible sites hosted there. It’s all the same infrastructure, the same IP addresses.”
In November 2020, Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, shared a fun fact.
“Changing a site’s underlaying infrastructure like servers, IPs, you name it, can change how fast and often Googlebot crawls from said site. That’s because it actually detects that something changed, which prompts it to relearn how fast and often it can crawl.”
Although the information is intriguing, it seems to have an impact on crawling rather than ranking. Of course, crawling is necessary for ranking, but crawling is not a ranking factor.
To sum up, there is no official statement or hard evidence that search engines, such as Google, consider IP address as a ranking factor. In fact, your search rankings depend upon many factors, especially the quality of the content you produce. Indeed, John Mueller has always been encouraging businesses and website owners to create high-quality content that catches people’s attention and the eyes of search engine algorithms.