June 9, 2010

IP Series: Dedicated IPs and Shared Hosting


Hostway Team

By Monique Martin

In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to compete in any market without some sort of Web presence. Whether you want an ecommerce or a lead generation site, you’ll need to decide what type of hosting is best for you. But just what is shared hosting and does having a dedicated IP really make a difference?

Shared Hosting

Most Web sites are relatively small and don’t need a server all to themselves. So, to save space and make things more economical, hosting services will host many Web sites on one server. That’s called shared hosting. One server can house hundreds or even thousands of Web sites on it.

Dedicated IPs

In addition to sharing server space, sometimes sites share IP addresses. In those cases, one IP address is used for every Web site on the server. But, if you don’t want to share, you can always get a dedicated IP address.

Dedicated IPs are unique addresses that aren’t assigned to or shared by any other site. You’re still sharing physical space with other sites (shared hosting) on a server, but you’ll have your own unique address, as opposed to a sort of general delivery.

Dedicated IPs and SEO

Some people believe that a dedicated IP gives you an advantage when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The theory is that if you use a shared IP address you can be found guilty by association. If one of the other Web sites you share the IP address with, is penalized by the search engines, your site will suffer too.

Another facet of the theory is that somehow shared IPs are slower to deliver content than dedicated IPs are. And, now that Google uses page speed as a ranking factor, having a dedicated IP should help your rank in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). But, every Web site on a shared hosting server is treated the same way. Content is still delivered on a first come, first served basis, and having a dedicated IP doesn’t put you at the front of the line.

Some still insisted that Google was penalizing sites that didn’t have a unique IP address. But, it’s only a myth. A myth that was actually debunked by Matt Cutts of Google several years ago. Although the myth persists to this day, there doesn’t appear to be any actual evidence to back it up.

So Why Get a Dedicated IP?

The most important benefit of having a dedicated IP address is the ability to have an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. An SSL certificate is the thing that puts the “s” in https and makes sure your connection is secure for financial transactions. If you’re going to sell and accept credit cards online, you’ll need one. A dedicated IP address allows you to create that ecommerce site you’ve been dreaming of.

And, best of all, dedicated IPs are usually just a few dollars more a month. It’s a small and worthwhile investment in your online business.

About the Author

Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.

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