Switching to a different web hosting provider will typically result in a new Internet Protocol (IP) address for your website.
Contrary to popular belief, websites aren’t located by their domain name; they are located by their IP address. Domain names simply point to the IP addresses of servers where websites are hosted.
Visitors may, in fact, be able to access your website by entering its IP address in a web browser.
If you migrate your website to a different server, though, its IP address will change. The web hosting provider will assign your website a new IP address.
Being that search engines can see your website’s IP address, you might be wondering if changing it will affect your site’s rankings.
When they crawl your website after a server migration, search engines will notice its IP address has changed. Should you be concerned about a potential loss of rankings?
Changing your website’s IP address will generally not affect your overall SEO. However, it can have an impact on local search rankings, as well as the deliverability of your marketing emails.
We’ll cover the various risks, along with the common myths, below.
What Is An IP Address?
An IP address is a unique and nondescript string of numbers that denotes the location of a device on a network. Servers are devices, and the internet is a network. Each server has at least one IP address.
IP addresses are formatted as four sets of numbers with a period separating them. Each set can range from zero to 255.
Your website’s IP address is determined by the server on which it’s hosted. For a server to be accessible on the internet, it needs a unique IP address. With that said, servers aren’t restricted to a single IP address. Thanks to virtual machine (VM) software, they can have multiple IP addresses.
VM software creates the perception of multiple unique servers on a single physical server. The server is virtually segmented into multiple servers, each of which has its own IP address.
How to Check Your Website’s IP Address
Regardless of what web hosting service it uses, your website’s IP address is public information.
You can identify its IP address in several ways, one of which is to use the Windows command prompt. After opening the command prompt, type
tracert, followed by a space and then your website’s domain name. Upon executing this command, you’ll see your website’s IP address.
You can also use a lookup tool like Site24x7 to check your website’s IP address. Just enter the domain name, and it will show your website’s IP address.
Of course, you can log in to your web hosting account to identify your website’s IP address as well. Most web hosting providers show this information in their control panels and account management portals.
The Myth of IP-Based Ranking Penalties
Because IP addresses are often shared by multiple websites—two or more websites may be hosted on the server—some webmasters fear that the activities of others can lead to a ranking penalty.
Search engines are known for imposing penalties on websites that engage in cyber attacks, spam, scams and other nefarious activities.
Fortunately, these ranking penalties aren’t imposed on an IP level.
If your website uses shared hosting, it will likely share the same IP address as dozens or even hundreds of other sites. If one of these websites engages in a nefarious activities, search engines won’t penalize your site just because it has the same IP address.
Search engines realize that IP addresses are often shared, so they don’t use IP-based ranking penalties. If they penalized all websites with the same IP address, there would be a lot of innocent victims.
How IP Address Can Affect Rankings
While changing your website’s IP address won’t cause a ranking penalty, it can affect your site’s rankings in other ways.
Local search rankings, for instance, are influenced by IP addresses. Your website may rank higher or lower for certain local searches depending on its IP address.
IP addresses are associated with a specific geographic location. If your website’s IP address shows a U.S. location, it may rank higher for searches performed within the United States. If it shows an Australian location, your website may rank higher for searches performed within Australia.
IP addresses are a small signal for local search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines won’t determine your website’s local rankings strictly by looking at its IP address. Instead, they’ll use its IP address as a hint. If your website’s content and marketing materials correlate with the same location as its IP address, search engines will recognize that location as being relevant to your site.
Another way that changing your website’s IP address can affect its rankings involves email.
Email marketing can help your website rank higher by fueling it with more traffic. Sending emails to subscribers will encourage them to visit your website. With more visitors, your website’s engagement will increase, which could be followed by higher rankings.
You may not be able to use email marketing for SEO if your website’s IP address has been blacklisted. Unlike search engines, inbox providers do impose IP-based penalties. If they receive a large number of spam complaints involving a particular sender, they’ll blacklist the sender’s IP address.
Even if you’re able to send emails to subscribers now, changing your website’s IP address may result in the rejection of your emails. If your website’s new IP address was blacklisted in the past, inbox providers will automatically reject your emails. They don’t know who, exactly, is responsible for spam. Inbox providers only know that spam comes from a particular IP address, so they blacklist offending IP addresses.
You can attempt to remove from your website’s IP address from inbox providers’ blacklists, but it’s not easy. Depending on the specific inbox provider, you may have to contact them to explain your story. Even then, they may err on the side of caution by keeping your website’s IP address on their blacklist.
IP addresses hold minimal weight in SEO. An IP address is nothing more than a label that tells the world where your website is located. Because of their geographic relevance, they hold a small amount of influence over local rankings. Local SEO and email marketing, however, are really the only ways that your website’s IP address can affect its reach.
If you have any questions about changing your website’s IP address, please feel free to leave a comment below!