Do You Need a Dedicated IP for your Website?
The simple answer is, probably not.
There are many things to consider when selecting website hosting options and one that I am often asked is “Do I need a dedicated IP address for my website?”.
Dedicated IP address – Is it necessary?
Dedicated IP address – Does it have any benefit?
Dedicated IP address – Do I really need one if I’m using a dedicated server?
Dedicated IP address – Do I really need one at all?
Obviously, with any extra service, cost will increase, but is a dedicate IP address of any benefit to you, your business or your website?
First, let’s answer the question “What Is An IP Address?”
An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is completely separate from your domain name.
An IP address is a sequence of numbers assigned to every device that accesses the Internet. Whereas your domain name (www.yourname.com.au) is essentially your website address that tells the world where it can be found on the Internet, all your devices such as desktop PC, tablet, laptop and phone have an IP address is a unique label that enables the identification of your specific device when it accesses a website.
In addition to computers and mobile devices, web hosting servers also have their own unique IP addresses.
Shared IPs and Dedicated IPs
Data centres that are set up for high speed hosting of multiple websites offer 2 types of hosting – shared hosting and dedicated hosting.
With shared hosting, all of a server’s resources are pooled together to host many sites without regard for who owns the site or how much traffic each site receives.
With dedicated hosting, all of a server’s resources are still applied to a specific set of sites and applications, but the way those resources are allocated is at the discretion of the person renting the server space, not the hosting provider.
With shared hosting, there are can be hundreds on the same server sharing the same IP address.
With dedicated hosting, sites may share the same hosting provider, but do not all have the same IP address.
Shared IPs and dedicated IPs operate in exactly the same way. While each hosting account has the same IP in a shared hosting environment, a dedicated IP is an exclusive address that is unique to one hosted server.
If you purchase a dedicated IP address it is exclusively yours to use as you wish and you can serve as many site as you like from it – you control who uses it.
However, a dedicated IP is really of no advantage for either hosting or search engine optimisation (SEO), but there are a few case where a dedicated IP can be needed.
What Is A Dedicated IP And What Does It Actually Do?
To truly understand dedicated IPs, we need to understand how IP addresses work.
IP addresses route internet traffic to the right place, much like a post code, and just like a post code, different people can share the same one.
If you have a shared hosting account, you probably share your site IP address with dozens of other people. In some cases, you might share it with hundreds of other sites.
Sharing is not a problem. The hosting software seamlessly, and in milliseconds, interprets requests for different sites on the same IP, ensuring that it can serve the right content to each viewer.
When Do I Need a Dedicated IP Address?
There are 3 reasons people might tell you that you need a dedicated IP address for your website.
- To maintain a secure site via SSL certificate.
- To manage a very high traffic site with lots of real-time interaction from users (a site like Gumtree, Ebay, Facebook etc)
- For some reason (and I cannot think of one) you need to view your website via IP address rather than a domain address.
Of the reasons listed above, the most common is the requirement for a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate to your site.
If you are developing an e-commerce site with automated banking processing, you will need to offer customers the security of protecting that information with an SSL. You must have a dedicated IP in order to install an SSL certificate on your site.
However, if your e-commerce site uses a third party payment option such as Paypal or requires direct deposit to your bank account, an SSL is unnecessary.
Of course, hosting providers charge an additional fee both for the dedicated IP and the SSL certificate, and frankly, with modern e-commerce functions, few e-commerce sites use them.
Whether you own an e-commerce site or not, if your website has a really, really, REALLY large volume of traffic on a daily basis, you may want to consider getting a dedicated IP so your website is more likely to increase or at least maintain the speed and performance your visitors are accustomed to while accommodating so many visitors. It will also reduce the likelihood of your site crashing under the strain of so much traffic.
But nothing is guaranteed – Remember the 2016 Australian Census? 🙂
Now For a Furphy
In the past there has been some discussion about whether or not a dedicated IP offers any sort of SEO benefit.
Back in 2006 Google spoke about dedicated IPs and said they did not affect ranking.
Then, unfortunately, in 2010 Google released a video in response to a specific question about whether shared hosting negatively affects a site’s ranking.
The question and response dealt specifically with the presence of spam websites that seriously drained resources on the same server as genuine business websites. However, being the internet, people didn’t read in context, and misunderstood the Google advice, so for a while some SEO people were incorrectly advising that a dedicated IP would improve rankings.
Eventually, in 2013, Google clarified by explaining that while a dedicated IP made no difference to ranking, the loading speed of a site did. But to be fair, on the vast majority of shared servers, there is no appreciable difference in loading time when compared to an identical site on a dedicated IP address, so no…
A dedicated IP address is not going to move your site to the number one position in Google’s searches.
Of course, this fact will not stop unscrupulous people trying to sell you a dedicated IP Address that you really do not need.
So, in answer to the question “Do I need a dedicated IP address for my website?” – Nope, probably not.