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Effects on Google Ranking by using Virtual/Shared Hosting

Are virtual hosted sites really at a disadvantage?

     
8:20 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi Guys & Girls,

I've come across quite a bit of information, which basically states that virtual/shared hosting is not a good thing when it comes to your Google Ranking.

Reasons for this include:

* Sharing the same IP address as other sites on the server. If some newbie decides to spam Google - all the sites using that IP address (including yours) will be blocked?

* Crosslinking is not as effective (Google prefers sites that are crosslinked to come from different IP stacks)?

I'd imagine that the vast majority if sites online are utilizing shared hosting, but all the big boys would be on their own servers.

Any ideas or thoughts on the above?
Are virtual hosted sites really at a disadvantage?

cheers,
opaltech

8:53 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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the vast majority if sites online are utilizing shared hosting, but all the big boys would be on their own servers.

The low-end hosting companies usually make you share virtual IP addresses just so they can save a few bucks.

But it isn't necessary to go to the expense of a dedicated or co-located server, just to get your own IP address. Some of the better hosting companies can provide shared hosting with your own dedicated IP for your site.

8:55 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Well for a start;

I'd imagine that the vast majority if sites online are utilizing shared hosting ... all the sites using that IP address (including yours) will be blocked

These two statements contradict each other. Everyone knows that lots of sites use virtual servers which means that Google is very unlikely to block at an IP level because they too know that lots of sites are virtual.

AFAIK penalties are applied by real people @ Google rather than being applied automatically so it's far more likely that they would target either;

1) the domain name which is unique to that site, possibly including sub-domains
2) all sites run by the person who owns the offending site

The reason I say this is that blocking as such doesn't really happen with Google - based on past examples I'd suggest that they prefer penalties as they are far more effective and far more subtle than an outright "block".

e.g. (take this with a pinch of salt - it's early for me)

Google apply a ranking penalty to the site. Let's assume it becomes PR0 and presumably part of a bad neighbourhood. At this point any sites who associated themselves (ie have an outgoing link) with this site could also be penalised because they are associated with a PR0/bad neighbourhood.

At this point these sites have two choices - distance themselves the original site and attempt to restore their rank or stand their ground and suffer the penalties. Either way the original site loses as with a penalty like the PR0 they will have a hard time getting real links too, which in turn makes an instant recovery very hard.

Used well this method will work because it firstly devalues the spam site without actually removing it, secondly it penalises the sites which are helping this site to be spam.

- Tony

9:03 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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hi opaltech, welcome to webmasterworld [webmasterworld.com].

If some newbie decides to spam Google - all the sites using that IP address (including yours) will be blocked?

no. and it's simple why: if that spammer rests on a really big (let's say, clustered system with 1 million virtual hosts), google had to ban all of them indexed, that would be 1 million sites if they all would be indexed. imho google will never do this.

Crosslinking is not as effective (Google prefers sites that are crosslinked to come from different IP stacks)?

effectiveness by crosslinking is based on pr, not on ip. i'm no pro nor do i know googles' algo, but my experience is that crosslinking in the same ip (or ip-range) is effective.

if i take both of your questions, and if it's related to a spam issue, then in analysis of the spam-pages/spam-network, the ip-address could effect googles filters. but this is analyzed in a more specific way i think.

9:48 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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hi opaltech, welcome

don't want to put words in your mouth but I have a similar if not the same question ... mine is regarding a hosting reseller account that shares an ip address across the sites in that account.

I had to go with this type of hosting due to cost and am wondering if it is inherently a bad thing, sharing an IP address across 10 or 20 sites [OR] does it only become a bad thing when things like duplicate content or crosslinking are introduced to the mix?

I am currently exploring 3 basic options:

1) keep all accounts separate (not even a single link between sites)
2) keep accounts separate (add a hub that links to each site)
3) accounts separate with multiple hubs linking to each site, but different pages

Obviously all would have different content and the hubs would be hosted on at a different site with a separate ip address. My reasoning for the hub(s) is in getting sites to exchange links, w/o trying to explain all the details it would provide a lot more flexibility in linking to specific content.

I'd love to hear peoples thoughts ...

10:37 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have never had a problem with my sites using name-based virtual hosting. Google has its own DNS cache and resolves the IP to the domain name anyway - why all the fuss about IP addresses? That's what DNS is for.

If this was a real problem I think we would be hearing about it a lot more. I was enjoying freuqent visits from Googlebot and good rankings until recently when I moved hosts. I can definitely confirm Googlebot is slow to refresh the DNS info and I am still waiting for it to spider the site at the new host ;).

11:09 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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"* Crosslinking is not as effective (Google prefers sites that are crosslinked to come from different IP stacks)? "

This is one that I really would like to get everyones opinion on. Do the crosslinks coming from different IP stacks hold more weight in terms of the google algo?

I have believed to this point that this is the case. Just from an article I read once upon a time. Can't remember where?

I would like to think other wise.

11:39 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think there is a misconception that sharing an IP address with other web sites is in general bad and "cheap." I don't think that is the case. ARIN (the company that hands out IP addresses) is running very short on IP addresses, and I believe mandates the use of virtual hosting where possible, as opposed to IP based hosting.

I have a dedicated server, and I know "I want a web site on a second IP" is not enough justification for my provider to sell me an additional address, even if they wanted to. I need to fill out a justification form which I think gets sent to ARIN, or at least needs to meet their guidlines.

As for the big boys comment, I don't consider myself a "big boy". Dedicated servers are not really that expensive on the grand scheme of things. I pay about $100 a month for my server. However, I do have 6 sites currently hosted on the box using named based hosting.

-Pete

11:41 am on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Opaltech,

I'd like to add my 2 cents...

Imagine one of your competitors runs a web site with virtual hosting. If Google penalized by IP, wouldn't you be tempted to buy a "throw-away" domain, host it with the same hosting company as your competitor's, just trying to have the same IP, and then do everything possible to have that IP banned? And then... bingo! no competitor anymore!

It would definitely be too easy, don't you think?

Dan

12:06 pm on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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One possible disadvantage of virtual hosting is that if your hosting provider really oversells their virtual boxes, things can start to get mighty slow if you have a heavy duty assault from Googlebot, especially if you are using dynamically generated pages or other sites on your box are having a heavy traffic day.
12:19 pm on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Do the crosslinks coming from different IP stacks hold more weight in terms of the google algo?


There is belief from back a year or two ago that Google started to "special-case" links from "close" IP's (first 3 #'s the same), in order to help fight against the onslaught of "in-house" link farms.

At the time, massive link farms were getting quite common, and some sharp spammers realized they could use virtual hosting methods (similar to cloaking) to host thousands and thousands of "fake" web sites all on one PC, all interlinked with each other with desired link text to increase their rankings.

Nowadays, Google has much more sophisticated methods of dealing with "link farm" sites.

A belief held by some here is that while related IPs probably does not have any impact on PageRank, they may still have an effect on other off-site ranking criteria, such as anchor text.

12:37 pm on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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opaltech
I have over 600 clients and most of them use shared ISP hosting. There has never been a problem with this on Google or any other SE. One of my clients who shared hosting with someone who WAS banned from Google and inktomi for very serious spamming. It never had any affect to any other sites sharing the ISP!

So, don't worry about it!

12:46 pm on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Guys - that's really cleared up the issue for me, namely:

1.It isn't necessary to go to the expense of a dedicated or co-located server, just to get your own IP address. Some of the better hosting companies can provide shared hosting with your own dedicated IP for your site.

<This I didn't know - but will investigate>.

2. Effectiveness by crosslinking is based on pr, not on ip

<Hopefully IP has no effect on PR, otherwise we get into the whole chicken before the egg scenario>
*************************************************

One thing that I have found is that if you use the Alexa Toolbar - the stats they provide seem to go out the window using virtual hosting.

I have 3 new sites that have just gone up in the last 2 months, and all 3 are showing around 400 incoming links each.

Whilst I wish this was true *sigh* - it's definitely not.

I suspect it may be reporting on another website on the server I'm hosted with?

Anyone else find the Alex stats way out of whack?
I know it's not the best software on the planet, but it's surprising to find it so inaccurate.

12:49 pm on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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virtual/shared hosting is not a good thing when it comes to your Google Ranking.

According to Google's Director of Technology Craig Silverstien, this is nothing more than a myth. [interviews.slashdot.org]

Google handles virtually hosted domains and their links just the same as domains on unique IP addresses. If your ISP does virtual hosting correctly, you'll never see a difference between the two cases. We do see a small percentage of ISPs every month that misconfigure their virtual hosting, which might account for this persistent misperception--thanks for giving me the chance to dispel a myth!
11:53 pm on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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"A belief held by some here is that while related IPs probably does not have any impact on PageRank, they may still have an effect on other off-site ranking criteria, such as anchor text."

Yeap for me could be incorrect though .

In Bretts Google a-z he says
"I) Put it Online.
Don't go with virtual hosting - go with a stand alone ip. "

Brett may have somethign to say on this?

4:30 am on Mar 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Since page rank affects just an individual page you could have a high ranking page on a free site you get with your ISP. It all depends on back links, content etc.

I think the important thing is to go with a good reliable company for virtual hosting. Ask around and see which ones are reliable, up close to 100% of the time, offer good tools and give good support.

Tor

6:25 am on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I've come across quite a bit of information, which basically states that virtual/shared hosting is not a good thing when it comes to your Google Ranking.

Where did you come across this information opaltech?

6:42 am on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Course and newsletters distributed via Planet Ocean (SEO Group that produce a course on the subject).

Opaltech

1:21 pm on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Here is the best solution for this... Just get shared hosting with dedicated IP. It usually only costs 15-30 setup fee with the right provider. 1 time cost that is worth the peace of mind.
2:16 pm on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I don't think that crosslinking (if you mean just linking from one domain to the other) on a shared ip will cause a penalty. However, I strongly believe that a link from a different ip has more weight in certain cases.

Check this patent out. [patft.uspto.gov...]

To summarize, the local interconnectivity ranking scheme. that I believe has been in effect for some time now, states that "removing documents from the sub-set that are from the same host or from an affiliated host as the particular one of the relevant documents".

So, whtehr you believe that Google uses this patent technology or not, it is clear that they have at least considered sites that link from the same host.

2:26 pm on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It seems to me that reducing the effectiveness of crosslinking based on domains sharing the same IP address is really a cheap and imperfect solution for Google to use. If Google wants to penalize improper crosslinking, there should be (and maybe is) an algorithm for determining what constitutes improper crosslinking, regardless of the underlying IP address(es). I think that there definitely can be valid crosslinking between domains on the same IP address, as well as improper crosslinking between domains on very different IP addresses. The improper linking might happen more often on shared addresses, but that means nothing.
 

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