The value of a unique IP address is something that is under constant contention in the SEO world. Many argue it’s a critical component of any intelligent SEO strategy. Others argue that this is a myth, and there’s no genuine benefit to having a unique IP address. The stance we’ll take here is that it does help if you’re utilizing primarily-whitehat techniques. The value of a unique IP is greatly reduced when you’re going for volume-based SEO positioning with lots of backlinks. These tend to have an element of spaminess to them, and having a dedicated IP address won’t help you very much in that case. For those who do things by the book, however, there’s a lot of good to be gotten out of a dedicated, unique server IP. The benefits of a dedicated IP address are as follows.
First, having a dedicated IP address implies that you have full control over your server. This is a very powerful thing to leverage if you know how to do so. Full control over your server means you’re never going to be hit by service outages or slowdown as a result of someone else’s activity. While this won’t protect you from a DDOS targeted at you, it will allow you to handle these things directly, without someone else subverting them.
Total server control puts you in charge of your security from start to finish. If you hire an information security firm, they’ll be working with your server, not your site. This gives them a great deal more freedom to protect your information and the information of your users, and that’s a good thing. None of this has any direct impact on SEO performance, however, except to be noted as a factor of best practices. Search engines try to value the best possible site for a given search string. The specific mechanics aren’t known, but it’s quite likely that dedicated IPs are categorized preferentially simply because they have the freedom to be superior to shared sites for security purposes.
This total control extends to something more tangible in SEO, however. Specifically, having your own dedicated server and corresponding IP means you won’t suffer if a neighbor on your server has fewer scruples than you about their SEO techniques. When a single IP address is blasting spam left and right, certain search algorithms tend to notice, and this can result in penalties for the whole IP. In some cases, it won’t be immediately possible to isolate the offending domain.
This can be bad news if you’re trying to run an honest business, as you’ll find yourself slapped with penalties that have nothing to do directly with how you operate things. Total server control means you’ll never have neighbors who can get up to this sort of trouble for you. Of course, it’s no defense if you pursue such techniques yourself, but the assumption here is that you’re going to be doing everything above-board and by-the-book, the way certain search administrators would prefer you to.
Having a dedicated server IP means you have control over other things that search engines will be paying attention to, including your security certificates. Security certificates are mostly talked about in the information security industry, and they’re less valued in SEO. However, they’re still very important, and they’re definitely on search engine radars. You’ve probably encountered a site with the warning that it may be harmful or that it isn’t trusted. This is what can happen when there’s some kind of discrepancy with the security certificate. Having control over that lets you keep your site’s certifications in the good graces of both users that care to check and search engines alike. If you can get security certificate and SSL control, you absolutely should.
This also has a dramatic impact on bounce rate, which in turn has an impact on your search ranking. If people see a warning about your security certificate, they’re going to be more likely to “bounce” back off your site. Similarly, they’ll be less likely to visit it in the first place, which will affect your more organic search rankings as fewer and fewer people associated the relevant searches with a click through to your site.
Holding your own IP is primarily ideal for e-commerce, but this spreads out into SEO by proxy. Much like the certificate example, having a dedicated IP and dedicated server by extension means you have total control over the security of your information. This is absolutely something to mention on-site if e-commerce is a field you operate in. Customers need to know their data is secure, and there’s good reason to think that search engines will notice any on-site claims about security certificates and compare them to your actual security status. Having a high level of information protection looks good for both customers and search engines.
All of this can affect your ranking indirectly. A dedicated server IP means you won’t be competing with any IP neighbors for traffic and bandwidth, which means a faster response time for your site. This means a lower bounce rate as more users are able to get right to what they want. Many will simply hit “back” if they aren’t able to load your site quickly enough, and whether the delay comes down to server load or a DNS issue, it’s something that can be avoided by having a dedicated IP and making good use of it.
Dedicated IPs aren’t an easy street to ranking glory by a long shot. You still need to follow various SEO best practices to rank well and this will not always be the easiest of tasks. Further, all of the control you are able to get through having your own dedicated server and IP comes with responsibility. If anything should go wrong under any circumstances, you’re the only one that can be held accountable for it. This means it’s solely on you to make sure nothing goes wrong. This further means you won’t be able to as-easily get your rank back if any sort of shady activity is logged via your IP. While you can eventually beat the rap on a shared IP connection, you’ll have a far harder time stating your case to a search engine’s anti-spam team when you’re the only responsible party.
All in all, dedicated server IPs are a very good investment. They won’t be your SEO silver bullet, but they’re a great augmentation to an otherwise-competent SEO campaign. The effects are subtle, and they won’t immediately jump your rank upward. However, they will afford you powerful control over your immediate circumstances on the web.
This control is invaluable for anyone in it for the long haul. If you’re just trying to reap the benefits of a product launch there’s probably no reason to go for a dedicated IP. However, if you’re handling SEO for an e-commerce site or other long-running web fixture, a dedicated IP will allow you to protect yourself against some of the long-term problems you might encounter with the search engines your SEO strategy targets.
Ultimately, the value of a dedicated IP comes down to control. If you know how to use it, and if you actually need it, it will be ultimately invaluable.