IP AddressIf you have been around computers and on the Internet for any length of time, you may have heard the term IP address. Although you may have heard about them, you may not know exactly what they are or why they are important. Why do unique IP addresses matter? Why are they important? On this page we are going to answer those questions and some other questions you might have.

What Is an IP Address?

IP stands for Internet Protocol. An Internet Protocol address, or IP address is a unique identifier given to every machine in a network. An IP address serves two primary functions. It is used as an interface identification for a network of machines and it also serves to provide a location of that machine, much like a physical address for a home or business. Because an IP address is a unique identifier, it allows computers to send and receive information to and from specific computers in a given network.

Today, there are two standards when it comes to IP addresses. Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) and Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6). When the Internet Protocol was originally designed, an IP consisted of a 32-bit number and the system was known as Internet Protocol Version 4. IPv4 is still in use today but the Internet has grown at an incredible pace and as IP addresses became more scarce, a new version of Internet Protocol was created. Internet Protocol Version 6 uses 128 bits for the IP address. IPv6 was originally developed in 1995 and it was standardized in 1998. It’s deployment began in the mid 2000s and continues today.

Why Is It Important to Have a Unique IP?

When you put a website on the Internet you have a number of options when it comes to hosting. Most people don’t go through the expense or the hassle of setting up their own server and effectively becoming their own web host. So their other options would be to use a dedicated server or shared web hosting.

With shared web hosting there may be hundreds or even thousands of websites on the same server. With that many websites on one server, all of those websites will often share one IP address. There are some inherent dangers when your website is sharing an IP address with hundreds of other websites. Sometimes people do shady things on the Internet and if you are sharing an IP address with a website that is blocked or blacklisted, your site may suffer as well.

If your web host offers a dedicated server, you will be able to have your own, unique IP address for your website. This makes it impossible for your website to be affected by the shenanigans of other webmasters. A unique IP address offers a layer of protection and greater security and reliability.

The Importance of a Unique IP Address When It Comes to Search Engine Optimization

First, let me quickly define search engine optimization or SEO. SEO is the process of trying to get your webpages to rank highly in the search engines for various keyword phrases. It is divided into two categories, on page SEO and off page SEO. On page SEO refers to things you can do on your pages to help improve rankings. Things like using your keyword phrase in the URL, title, H1 tags etc. Off page SEO refers to things that are not done directly on your site but will help your pages rank in the search engines. What that basically means is building back links to your webpages.

So why are unique IP addresses important when it comes to search engine optimization? Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s spam team, has said that “links to virtually hosted domains are treated the same as links to domains on dedicated IP addresses.” That sounds like it really doesn’t matter whether you are getting your links from unique IP’s or not. However, he has also said that if you have thousands of sites linking to you and those sites are all on the same IP address, the page rank of those links will be diluted. He also said that thousands of links from the same IP address can raise some red flags.

To avoid building diluted back links or raising any red flags with Google’s spam team, it is important to have IP diversity in your link building efforts. One way to do that is to use other people’s websites to build links back to your website. You can do this by participating in forums and linking back to your website, guest blogging on other people’s websites, using Web 2.0 sites, and basically using a number of different link building techniques.

If you want to have your own link network, which is one of the most powerful ways of improving your search engine rankings, you will have to make sure that each of the sites in your network is on its own, unique IP. This will make running your own private link network more expensive, but it will also make it far more effective.