I'm working as a bit of a webmaster for a guy that runs a network of backlinked websites to increase his PR for a couple of his eCommerce sites. I don't know much about them, I just know they generate content and funnel the link juice back to where it's needed.

He is hell-bent on making SEO as good as possible on every one of the sites under his network. We have a VPS running about 10 of these sites on a single IP address and he has been struck with the somewhat logical assumption that if Google thought they all came from different servers, as opposed to one, their SEO and pagerank would be better. I'm however a little more skeptical of this idea, as I don't see why on earth Google would consider the content generated from the same server more valuable than content generated from different servers.

In terms of SEO, would a network of sites that link to each other benefit from having different IP addresses? Or could they result in a penalty if they all used the same IP address?

  • I edited this to make it a unique question from this related one (hopefully it still addresses what you were after). An easy option to negate this concern is to use a CDN for each site, which will often provide different IP addresses to each. But keep in mind that Google might view a network of sites as a link scheme regardless of IP address.
    – dan
    Sep 9, 2014 at 7:41
  • I'm sure Google is aware of such trickery and SEO will benefit by knocking his sites down into oblivion.
    – Rob
    Sep 9, 2014 at 12:44
  • 1
    It's not really "trickery" if the link-wheel sites are generating useful content. If you sell widgets, and have a blog about the latest widget trends on a different domain, and it links to your store, that could be very beneficial to humans and bots alike if the widget blog is interesting. If it's the same boiler-plate keyword-rich crap being posted on 10 different domains, then ya, it'll look spammy. Sep 9, 2014 at 21:09
  • @nathangiesbrecht He's trying to cover up the fact that he is one and the same person running all those sites. That's mis-representation and trickery and I hope and know he will get caught.
    – Rob
    Sep 10, 2014 at 1:05
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    @Rob It's perfectly fine to operate more than one site of course. Using a different IP address isn't exactly "trickery" or hiding who the operator is - WHOIS records would be a better indicator of that than an IP address. As nathangiesbrecht commented, it depends on the content of the sites in relationship to each other as to whether Google might consider the sites as a link scheme or spamdexing. If each site offers quality, original content, then that shouldn't be an issue - otherwise, regardless of IP address, they might receive a penalty.
    – dan
    Sep 10, 2014 at 4:40

3 Answers 3


It is highly likely that Google reduces the linkjuice passed from one site to another if it is on the same IP address because Google makes the logical and reasonable assumption that the link isn't an unbiased link. Google uses links as 'votes' for how important a site is - the more links it gets from other sites the higher it's 'authority'. The more links you get from high authority sites the better. If you get links from sites that you own, i.e. they are on the same IP address, then that doesn't count like a full vote from a completely independent site.

It isn't quite as simple as changing the IP address though. IP addresses are chunked up into blocks, and if you use a hosting provider they will normally have ownership over several blocks ('C' blocks, where the first three sets of numbers (octets) are the same), and even if you take out another server with a different IP address it is likely to be from the same C block, which again is another clue for Google that the two websites are controlled by the same person. Cue reduced linkjuice.

Final point - Google is totally aware of these backlink schemes and have engineers that are cleverer than the webmasters trying to set them up; whilst this sort of thing worked ten years ago it is less and less successful now. Far more sustainable and value-adding is building a credible backlink profile by legitimately building good content that other independent and relevant sites want to link back to.

A link wheel type thing where you create the spokes linking into the hub website is doomed to failure because the 'domain authority' of the spoke sites is going to be practically zero (because they don't have authoritative links into them). I've been responsible for the SEO for an eCommerce business that generates over $150M in revenue per year and I'd never dream of trying to set up this kind of backlink scheme.


I believe this practice is known as a Link Wheel in SEO terms. The idea is to have a bunch of different sites (known as spokes) each generating content to point to your main "target" domain (where he sells stuff). Each spoke site will generally link to one of the other spoke sites, and also to the target site. Thus passing half the link juice to the other spoke, and half to the target. When done with multiple sites, this leads to lots of link juice pointing back to the target, and little bits to each of the spokes.

Search Engine's have tuned their algorithms to be able to detect this kind of linking scheme. So it's not likely helping his SERP results much, if at all. If however, one of your sites gets labels as "spam", it could negatively effect all of the other spokes because Google can see that they're in the same "neighbourhood" (they actually will label all sites on the same C subnet as being in the same "neighbourhood"). This in turn would negatively effect the target site by having lots of spammy sites pointing links to it.

Short answer: yes, different IP addresses can "help" SEO by actually just doing less harm if you get hit with a penalty.


If your customer is not doing anything shady or does not break any search engine recommendation, then using different IP addresses will not improve SEO. It is a waste of time and money.

If your customer is doing something shady, using different IP address may delay a little the moment search engines found about it, but not by long, and once they penalize you, it is a real pain. Not worth the effort and the reward. Stopping the shady activity is a better investment.

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