Can having a dedicated IP address give you an edge as opposed to having a shared IP address? What is the difference between a dedicated IP address and a shared one, and which are the situations in which you are better off getting a dedicated IP address? These are a few of the questions that are most frequently raised concerning dedicated IPs.
In principle, most websites would not draw much of a benefit from having a dedicated IP, however, in certain cases a dedicated IP can be necessary or it’s more advisable than having a shared IP address.
Shared IP vs. Dedicated IP
Your IP address is basically your real domain name, but given that a set of numbers would have been hard to remember, people came up with names to double as domain names. Having a shared IP is the general rule in the sense that hosting your website on a shared hosting will automatically grant you a shared IP. This means that the server’s IP is shared by multiple sites hosted on the same server. In contrast, a dedicated IP is unique to your website and it’s not shared with other sites.
Multiple sites hosted on a shared server that have the same IP address can amount to hundreds of sites, which means that there is a risk that your site is in bad company in the sense that the actions of other sites may have an influence on the reputation of your site.
How to get a dedicated IP?
There are a few ways you can get a dedicated IP – ask for a dedicated IP address from your hosting provider, get a dedicated server that comes with a dedicated IP or a VPS, which is also provided together with a dedicated IP.
Of the above methods asking for a dedicated IP directly from your hosting provider comes with the most hassle, because the ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers) requires you to justify your need for a dedicated IP. If you can’t provide sufficient justification, your request will be denied. Justification for a dedicated IP address is required due to the scarcity of IPv4 addresses, whose combinations will eventually run out completely. Therefore, it is important to make sure that remaining IPv4 blocks are allocated to those who can justify a sufficient need for them.
Another, simpler way to go about getting a dedicated IP is to get a dedicated hosting or a VPN. Usually hosting providers will allocate a dedicated IP to these services. This is not to say that some providers will not ask for justification in these cases too, however, justification is not required as a rule like in the case of asking for a dedicated IP directly.
When to get a dedicated IP?
Although most websites would not benefit from getting a dedicated IP, there are some cases in which getting one would make sense:
- Securing an eCommerce site via SSL
- Making your website black hat/spam-proof
- Wanting to achieve a better e-mail deliverability
If you host an online store or other e-commerce related site and payment handling is not done via third-party services, then you need a dedicated IP and an SSL certificate to make customers’ transactions safe. A dedicated IP will grant you credibility and will make customers feel more at ease when making transactions on your site. Although the SNI (server name indication) technology allows multiple SSL certificates to be served off by the same shared IP address, older versions of some browsers may not support this technology, therefore, visitors who access websites from such browsers will receive a message about the connection being untrusted. A dedicated IP can help avoid issues like this.
Another reason why you would want to get a dedicated IP is to protect your website from spam in terms of reputation. If other websites that you share an IP with are sending out spam e-mails or are engaging in black hat practices, and are being blacklisted or banned as a result, your website can be affected by the behavior of these sites. Possible negative outcomes would be the null routing of your website, triggering of antivirus alarms, “This site may harm your computer” warnings on your site links, etc. In this context, it’s a good idea to monitor your site in Google Webmaster Tools to get a glimpse of what Google thinks about your site.
Because you wouldn’t have to share a dedicated IP with anyone else, you can have more control over your reputation. However, if it appears that your site is in “bad company” and your hosting provider is compromised, it makes more sense to migrate to a different hosting provider and get a dedicated IP there. Just to be on the safe side, you may still want to check the history of the dedicated IP address that it’s assigned to you to see whether or not it was used for spam in the past. You can do this with the help of IP reputation lookup services.
If you have a high-traffic website with lots of visitors, it may be high time to get a dedicated hosting that will increase your site’s speed, which can also improve your website’s Google ranking. A dedicated hosting comes with a dedicated IP as well. If the only reason why you’re requesting a dedicated IP is to improve your SEO, you’ll definitely be denied one. If you have very little traffic on your website and you don’t have problems with server load or server downtimes, you probably don’t need to get a dedicated hosting. By simply getting a dedicated IP only, your SEO positioning will not necessarily improve, unless your site was located in a “bad neighborhood”.
Another advantage of having a dedicated IP is that most hosting companies allow you to set the so called PTR or Reverse DNS record, which is useful if you are planning to send out important emails or newsletters. At the DNS level, yourdomain.com has an A record pointing to your IP address, but if your IP address has a PTR record pointing back to yourdomain.com, then this is seen as a positive sign by most SPAM and other filtering systems.
So should you get a dedicated IP? While it is necessary for some, it is not something that most people would draw significant benefits from. Apart from certain well-justified cases that were discussed above (securing sites with SSL certificates, high-traffic websites and spam protection), you’ll be just fine having a shared IP address.