Anyone who has been using the internet for any length of time will have come across IP addresses. These special groups of numbers are used to identify a computer connected to a network. These addresses are unique to specific computers or smaller networks on the internet and are used to send data from one place to another. There are currently two types of IP address in use on the internet: IPv4 addresses and IPv6 addresses. IPv4 addresses look like 4 groups of numbers ranging from 0-255 separated by dots, whilst IPv6 addresses are much longer and the groups are separated by colons. The unique nature of an IP address means that they are used for more than just communication as the address can also be used to identify a server.
Keeping the numbers straight.
There are various services that monitor IP addresses and build reputations based on them. The first of these are spam trackers, such as Spamhaus, who track spam emails and – more importantly – where they originate from. The IP addresses and domains used as the source of the spam go into blocklists and blacklists that are used by many email services to determine whether email is coming from a trusted source. In a similar vein to spam trackers, we also have malware trackers which do more or less the same thing by tracking sites used for hosting phishing sites or other malware. These are often used by web browsers to warn you before you visit a potentially dodgy website.
Another area where your IP address may be used is with search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a bit of a dark art as the various search engines don’t reveal information about how their page ranking algorithms work beyond some vague guidelines. A great deal of information about the best SEO practices come from various trial and error efforts that have been made over the years, and various sites exist to offer advice on things to do to ensure your site is as optimized as possible. As with the other services that use your IP address, it is often noted that a website using an IP address with a poor reputation can suffer a negative impact to its search engine rankings.
This is where, to some extent, your choice of hosting can make a difference for your website. If you host your website on shared hosting then not only are you sharing the resources of a server to host your site, but you are also sharing that server’s IP address with others. This means that it’s not only what you do on the server that impacts your reputation with these various services, but also what other website owners on the server do. So if you are on a server where a number of websites host phishing sites, malware or send spam, then this can create a negative reputation for the IP address that you are using. This, in turn, may mean you find that your site also gets caught up in block lists, and has its search engine ranking impacted by causes outside of your control.
VPS means your IP address belongs only to you.
When you choose a Virtual Private Server (VPS) for your hosting solution, you have a single IP address assigned to your server which isn’t shared with other servers. You control what your server does, which this means you can ensure that it’s not used for spamming, phishing or hosting malware, preventing it from falling foul of the various blacklists and blocklists. Whether you are hosting a website or sending email, this should mean things run more smoothly for you, and that no one else can affect your search engine rankings.
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