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  1. Can other websites on your shared host affect the rank of your website in the Google index? (same IP address as yours, potentially malicious/low-trust content)

  2. Can other websites on your IP class affect the rank of your website in the Google index? (different actual IP, malicious/low-trust content)

Clarification: Domain class, is what you get when you run a whois query on an IP address.

Example:

NetRange:       69.163.128.0 - 69.163.255.255
CIDR:           69.163.128.0/17

PS: Prefer answers with experience or links to trustworthy material, over speculations, assumptions and gut feelings.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Is your IP address neighborhood important for SEO?

It's mentioned in US Patent Application #20050071741 "Information retrieval based on historical data" (recommended reading if you're concerned with how Google works)

In one implementation, a list of known-bad contact information, name servers, and/or IP addresses may be identified, stored, and used in predicting the legitimacy of a domain and, thus, the documents associated therewith.

... but that doesn't mean that Google presently uses the implementation described - still, why bother hosting in a bad neighborhood (which comes with all kinds of fun problems like e-mail delivery, regular SSH brute force scans, DDoS retaliation against your DoS'ing neighbors, et cetera) when there are plenty of other neighborhoods to choose from?

Addenda: 3/7/2012

Keeping your free hosting service valuable for searchers at the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog has this advice for hosting providers:

If a free hosting service begins to show patterns of spam, we make a strong effort to be granular and tackle only spammy pages or sites. However, in some cases, when the spammers have pretty much taken over the free web hosting service or a large fraction of the service, we may be forced to take more decisive steps to protect our users and remove the entire free web hosting service from our search results.

This statement reinforces the notion that Google actively penalizes content at the level of the hosting provider.

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How do you tell if you're in a bad neighborhood? If you're on a web server with 10,000 other websites do you think it's possible to know who all of them are or what they are doing? Especially if you're a small company with no IT department. And it's important to note that a patent does not mean it's being inplemented. Everything is patented nowadays which is why we need patent reform but I digress... –  John Conde Oct 30 '10 at 1:25
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How do you tell? Check your IP against spam and proxy blocklists, check your IP against Google's safe browsing tool, and run a reverse lookup for hosts on your IP (it helps to pick a hosting provider which isn't putting 10,000 sites on a single server). The possibility that Google is using an alternative implementation is qualified in my reply, though I would be surprised if an IP (or ASN, for that matter) with a spotty record didn't factor in somehow - it does in most other contexts. –  danlefree Oct 30 '10 at 1:39
    
Also, most web hosts have actively enforced ToS. So read the ToS of a web host before you sign up. It's up to them to keep their network clean, so if you choose the right web host, you won't need to worry about checking up on your neighbors. –  Lèse majesté Oct 30 '10 at 1:44
    
Check your host against spam and proxy lists? Hostgator isn't on them but you can get a whole IP banned if you do black hat SEO with them which isn't against their terms of service. "Bad neighborhoods" is being used incorrectly in this discussion. A bad neighborhood in SEO is a group of sites related to each in some way that are violating the TOS of the search engines. Common IP addresses may or may not be a factor. Common IPs does not by itself prove two sites are related. But when combined with other factors can strengthen the association. –  John Conde Oct 30 '10 at 2:11
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I would recommend not spending time on something like this. IPv4 address ranges are very, very limited, so search engines are generally fine with sites sharing IP addresses, even if they are shared among 100,000 websites; not even to mention how many sites might be on the same C-class ... If you're running a normal website, the IP address is not going to be a deciding factor for search engines. –  John Mueller Nov 1 '10 at 19:29
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No. Thousands of websites can be on one IP Address it naturally would not make sense to penalize thousands of unrelated websites because one user on that IP or IP block is using black hat SEO, etc.

To be considered in a bad neighborhood you must actively establish a relationship to their sites in the neighborhood. This is usually done through interlinking although I am sure there are other ways to identify/create a relationship. In these cases IP addresses will be a supporting factor in linking sites in a bad neighborhood together. But by itself it definitely will not affect your rankings or invoke IP-wide penalties.

Possibly Helpful Link

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The provided link has speculation by non-authoritative people. I am asking the question to see if there is any valid reason for tools like majesticseo.com/reports/neighbourhood-checker to exist at all ... –  Evgeny Oct 29 '10 at 22:44
    
If you google your question all you will find is speculation as none of the search engines have said anything definitive about it. The best you can do is apply logic and common sense as I did above. I'd say that tool is a great example of bad seo myths running wild. –  John Conde Oct 29 '10 at 22:48
    
To be fair, I think web hosts should be held responsible for the type of websites they host in their registered IP bock. So there is some sense in penalizing an entire IP range. The same is done for spam blocking (which is why most professional web hosts actively enforce a no-spamming policy; which is a very good thing IMO), so there is precedent for this. It's also similar to how many ecommerce sites refuse to accept orders from certain countries where the chance of an order being legit is very low. –  Lèse majesté Oct 30 '10 at 0:52
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And should a web host be punished because someone on their server does black hat SEO? NO! It isn't illegal so there's no reason for hosts to police that kind of stuff. Can you imagine if web hosts had to police black hat SEO to stay in business? They'd all go out of business or we'd all be paying $100 a month for hosting to cover their Black Hat SEO enforcers! –  John Conde Oct 30 '10 at 13:43
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There's a post by Matt Cutts about this from 2006 (covering a quote from 2003): mattcutts.com/blog/… "Google handles virtually hosted domains and their links just the same as domains on unique IP addresses." –  John Mueller Nov 1 '10 at 19:37
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I don't ever think that being on the same host with the same ip as another website certainly affects your serps in the search engines. It becomes a problem when yourself starts to create link farm and start linking them together for backlinks on the smae ip.

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