People who are making use of shared hosting or are on shared hosting plans often wonder whether it hampers their search engine optimization (SEO) effort and subsequently their search engine ranking. A VPS hosting or dedicated server hosting offers unique IP whereas in case of shared hosting all websites have the same IP address. This also tends to be a problematic area as most people hold the opinion that a dedicated IP address is important for your shared hosting to boost your online visibility.  In the following paragraphs we shall try to find an answer to it, but before that we must get some idea about what is an IP and what type of hosting is classified as shared hosting.

Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is the most apt as well as ideal hosting option for blogging websites or for websites that are in their nascent stage and do not expect to generate high volume of traffic in their initial days. Shared hosting is the least expensive of all hosting options as a single physical server is responsible for holding multiple sites. Presence of large number of websites brings cost efficiency as the cost is evenly distributed among all the websites present. Shared hosting is a good option for low traffic website, but it is a known fact that shared hosting is grossly inadequate to handle websites that attract huge amount of online traffic. 

Shared hosting setup is inflexible, issues of security and reliability are always present, and most importantly it fails to respond appropriately to expanding network traffic. 

What is an IP address?

An IP address is the fascinating product of modern computer technology, a method of protocol through which machines connect with each other on the internet. IP stands for ‘Internet Protocol’ and each computer connected via Internet has its own unique IP address through which it is identified. 

Data sent or received on Internet are initially divided into small chunks called packets. Each of these packets have both the address of the sender as well as that of the receiver.  Any packet gets transferred to a gateway computer who after deciphering the address forwards it to another getaway computer.  

This process of deciphering the destination address continues till the message reaches a stage where one gateway recognizes the package is intended for a computer nearest to its location (domain) and then delivers it to the specified address. Messages, travelling as packets, can be sent from a different route across the internet and arrive at the destination in no particular order. It is the job of TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) to put them back in right order. The IP’s job is only to deliver the message to its intended address.

IP address as such plays an important identifying role uniquely identifying the location of the machine connected to the net. A dedicated Internet Protocol as the name suggests is reserved exclusively for a single hosting account. 

As mentioned above, all the websites hosted on the same physical server has the same IP address. However, there are service providers who offer a complete new package where your website has an IP address different from those of other websites present on the same server. This way, you look being hosted on a complete different system to the outside world despite the fact that you are on shared hosting. You must remember though, that this type of hosting is expensive and you need to properly assess your requirements before opting for it.

This brings us now to the all-important question whether we need dedicated IP in case of shared hosting. Some experts it matters a lot while others beg to disagree. What if you are hosted on the same physical server with dozens of other porn sites or spam sites? Since most of the firewall uses domain + I.P security to block harmful sites, does it not make sense to have a unique IP address for your site. 

Majority of the experts as well as webmasters and website owners hold the opinion that it is good to have dedicated IP with shared hosting both in the short and the long run. In SEO perspective, your site’s IP will become unique exclusively for you. Now will it reap the intended benefits? That is another question which again needs some detailed explanation. For example, if there are spam or adult sites hosted on the same shared server, what do you think will happen to your website ranking? Will Google penalize you for sharing space with porn sites? 

Opinions differ here too as people believe that your ranking will not take a direct hit if there are only a few porn or adult sites on the server. Things, however, will cease to be all milk and honey if there are significant number of porn sites on the same shared server. You can opt for common IP if number of harmful or porn sites does not cross 10 per cent of the total sites. A unique and dedicated IP address is necessary if harmful sites exceed this percentage.