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Here is what the host says about this in their own words:
"Typically a number of web sites share the same IP address (a string of numbers like x.x.x.x used to identify a computer on the Internet). If you want to have an SSL certificate or anonymous FTP, however, you'll need your own unique IP. Only our [business plan] includes a unique IP... you can request that one be allocated to you from our web panel. One caveat, although we guarantee that your IP will be unique (nobody else will share the IP) we do not guarantee that it will be static (it always stays the same). The reason for this is sometimes our network topography needs to change and the only way to do this is via the shuffling of some IPs. So really you shouldn't ever publicly broadcast your unique IP as an address outside people should use for some reason! That's what DNS is for!"
If your IP changes every now and then, don't worry, that won't have any affect. This happens with all hosts from time to time do to company buyouts, mergers, datacenter moves, etc.
This may have been a server configuration error or a bot error.
The case I really looked at involved several sites on the same IP address, it was a mess. It was called to my attention by a WebmasterWorld member who's client had received a complaint from another site claiming they had copied pages.
The complaint was somewhat correct, pages were indeed indexed as being part of more than one site. However the site that complained about the copying was the one that "copied pages" so to speak.
[edited by: theBear at 5:28 pm (utc) on Oct. 11, 2006]
The webhost denied having any problems, but I decided to upgrade everyone to a dedicated IP address to solve the problem. It's worth it if only for the peace of mind.
And if you can get the dedicated IP for free, I don't see any reason you shouldn't ask for it.
they mention that occasionally the IP will change.
How often? Once in a blue moon when the ISP reorgs their subnets? Or once a month?
If it's once a month, I would much rather share an IP address that does not change. Google will cache the name->address translation for extended periods of time, completely ignoring any TTL you have configured. If your ISP is switching addresses on you, you get a lovely period of time where Googlebot is trying to fetch your website from the wrong IP address.
IMHO on the static IP address wives tale: absolutely nothing wrong with shared IP addresses (which is good, since the # of domains in the world exceeded the number of available IP addresses quite some time ago).
A separate IP is only needed for special situations such as SSL, etc. The separate or "your own IP" is a vanity thing among some webmasters. It makes them feel as though they are big boys!
And please do not confuse the terms:
Static IP vs Dedicated IP.
Static is an IP that does not change (at least does not change too often :)).
Dedicated IP - an IP only for your site. It can change as frequently as you change servers, providers. However, it is dedicated to your site.
All shared hosting providers DO provide Static IPs. As mentioned above they change IPs at very rare occasions such as data center change, etc.
I do not think a Dedicated IP will affect your rankings in any way.
I have seen the crossfire on more than the one case I mentioned.
I really could care less if it is a server, site, or bot issue. The issue does exist and I have never seen it occur on a non-shared ip address. Erring on the side of caution would lead one to prefer a dedicated ip address. There is nothing like risking your livelyhood on a configuration that _MAY_ cause you to tank.
A defense in depth is better than having none at all.
As always, it is your choice, choose wisely.
Yes it was your situation I was mentioning.