Since about the time when Google’s “Vince” update rolled out, I started having serious trouble ranking for some profitable target keywords. If I could get to the top, it was very temporary – more often than not, several phrases that used to draw traffic (and sales) were sinking as much as a page a week. Between that and falling retail numbers across the global economy, February and March ended up being terrible for me financially and I knew something was going to have to change about my online strategy.
It felt like a matter of trust – although my URLs had as much pagerank as any of the pages in Google’s top 10, it seemed like Google was inherently skeptical and generally unwilling to send me traffic.
So the first step was to find examples of someone experiencing a similar phenomenon. Eventually, I dug up a blog post by someone describing familiar circumstances:
- Position in SERPs changes many times daily
- Powerful backlinks do nothing or even accelerate SERP decline
Their solution was to get a unique IP address. They found out they had been sharing one with 2000 other domains – and quite a few of those aren’t exactly the kind of neighbors you’d expect to have in a decently respectable neighborhood. (Sorry, I don’t remember which blog it was on!)
So I checked out my own websites’ IP addresses with a reverse IP domain tool. I found 1300+ neighbors and a few lit up on the questionable content filters of the tool. Based on domain names alone, I wouldn’t want to be linking to or in any way associated with my own neighbors!
Considering the cost of a unique IP address on Bluehost ($3.50 a month), I decided pretty quickly that it was worth the cost. Now that I’ve seen a few weeks worth of results, I just wish I had done this sooner.
Result? Up and Up
I wanted to get a feel for how the IP alone affecting my traffic so I had an excuse to not publish anything for a while and I didn’t bother working on any linking efforts. In the next week, my college financial aid site had its busiest day ever. Almost immediately, my own business was back on track.
For this site in particular, I’ve seen a great trend. I am tracking about six “big ticket” keyword phrases that I ranked for, here’s the before & after results:
Then: 7, 11, or 13
Now: 5 ($$$)
The last one is absolutely amazing to me. After two months of constantly dropping, it managed to turn around and jump up 10 pages in about a week & a half.
So now I’m convinced that this unique IP was a good investment. Could there have been other factors that resulted in a massive and sudden boost in ranks, traffic, and sales? Sure … there are hundreds of variables at work and I can’t be aware of all of them. I tried to keep things on my end pretty static, but I can’t control organic link proliferation or any other off page factors.
Need a Unique IP?
Most hosting providers offer upgrades to unique IPs. For my sites hosted on Bluehost, every domain on my entire account was transferred to one IP at the cost of $3.50 per month. This means my sites will still be associated with each other, but at least I won’t be automatically linked to people and sites I’ve never heard of.
I checked out Dreamhost too, and over there you can get a unique IP for a single domain at a normal cost of $47 / year. If you’e signing up for Dreamhost and you want a free unique IP to start with, use the coupon code PromoIPUnique. This code will give you one free unique IP and $20 off your hosting purchase.
Hostgator offers a unique account IP for $2 a month on their “Baby” level shared hosting plan, and its free for “Business” level plans. (Hostgator also runs an SEO hosting company that allows you to buy IP addresses at bulk discounts and apply them to individual domains)
At Midphase, you can get also get a unique IP for your account at $2 a month for “Starter” and “Unlimited” plans. Like Hostgator, their “Business” level plan includes the unique IP.