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I was wondering if anyone had any input on optimal subnet mask settings or if they could conceivably matter at all? I have no idea.
Among small businesses (and those of you who attend chamber of commerce meetings, etc. will know what I'm saying) they often share information about who they're hosting with, who designed their site, etc. and you'll find that many businesses that are related to each other all host with the same company and thus would have the same IP address. If those businesses link to each other's sites, as they often do, any search engine that would code this to set up a red flag and potentially earn some kind of penalty is looking at the web the wrong way.
The search engine's job is to display relevant results, not to police the Internet De-listing sites because they happen to have the same or same-range IP addresses is not the mark of a good search engine. If the content is relevant to the search, why should it matter whether they're all part of the same network or run by the same webmaster? That's not Google's job.