Shared vs Unique IP on Shared Hosting – Initial Results

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:

  • KW1
    Then: 7, 11, or 13
    Now: 5 ($$$)
  • KW2
    Then:  25
    Now:  11
  • KW3
    Then:  65
    Now:  19
  • KW4
    Then:  80-85
    Now: 34
  • KW5
    Then:  18
    Now: 11
  • KW6
    Then:  120
    Now:  25

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.


  1. hey John,
    Thanks for sharing the statistics. It’s hard to believe it could make that big of a difference, but if it does, it is well worth it. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that this is a new development?
    And do you think your interlinking between your sites might suffer now if they are all the same ip? It will be interesting to see how this continues. Thanks again for sharing, and providing evidence as well.
    ~ Steve (aka trade show giveaways)

  2. It was around February that I started having problems with SERPs, dunno if it was Google’s big “Vince” update or if that’s when shady domains got registered on my shared hosting IP.

    This unique IP was added about 2-3 weeks ago and one of the target keyword phrases is still going up. (KW6 is now #14)

    So yeah, its all very recent and the SERP move back up has been really sudden.

    As far as inter-linking, I try keep that really limited and on-topic among sites on the same IP, but its a lot more liberal with sites on my other hosting account. (The only thing I’m strict about there is trying to keep it 1-way)

    Oddly enough, that other hosting account seems to have automatically put my domains on different IPs. Its got to be some lucky coincidence because they usually charge per IP. All told, my 2 shared hosting accounts currently have domains on 4 or 5 IP addresses. Of course, free hosting like Blogspot & Squidoo can be another source of unique IP #s.

  3. hey John,
    Thanks for replying and adding info. I think you are right that it could also be that a spammy site was added to your shared ip. That’s the thing with Google… there are so many variables… 🙂
    That said, I like the dedicated ip address. It indicates a level of quality and commitment. Just hard to believe it would carry that much weight. Will be interesting to see.
    ~ Steve (aka trade show giveaways)

  4. This is so odd! I had a huge conversation inside Digital Point forums regarding this concern.

    Will the IP address of my site affect the page ranking and the majority of webmasters said no there is no direct affect.

    After reading your review I don’t know what to think.

    I guess I should be looking at getting some Distinct IP address for all my sites cause you got it my page rank position has dropped like crazy!

    I went from 400 hits a day in the last 5 months to maybe 50 hits a day!

    I’ll look into this some more!

    Thanks for the info bro!


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