21st July 2016

The role of the IP address in a cloud based web

Animated image of a man working at his desk on top of a cloud in the sky

Cast your mind back to the year 2001; geeks everywhere are still reeling from the disappointment of the Star Wars prequels, and trying to figure out how to connect their Palm Pilots to their Nokias, while they mind their noisy racks of servers in a locked, air conditioned room praying that their T3 connection lives up to the promised megabit of bandwidth.

Changing Technology

Back in the “old days” of the internet, bandwidth was restrictive and hosting your site in the same country as your customers could mean the difference between a 10 second or three minute load time.  You would keep your sites local so you could drive or walk to the data center and replace a disk or a fan when necessary.

In those days, your IP address block was something you would strive to protect, as search engines of the time would use your IP block location as a strong indicator as to the geographical location of your customers.  Changing an IP address was not an easy task and the hardware behind it was expensive.

Roll on 15 years and things have changed a bit. Servers are now disposable commodities; sites and services are hosted in the cloud and bandwidth is cheap and in plentiful supply.  More often than not, you’re using cloud services to provide a blisteringly fast front-end to your web presence and you have absolutely no idea where it all happens.

As these vast cloud platforms expand, they spread their tendrils across the globe, using datacenters wherever they can find a good match of land price and infrastructure.  As all this takes place, the IP address is losing its importance for most services.  IPv6 is growing in importance as the IPv4 address space gets rapidly eaten up by 2 billion smartphones.  IPv6 all but loses the concept of an IP block, and you simply get what you’re given.

IP Geolocation

Many SEO agencies are guilty of losing track of these facts and are still assigning importance to where IP geolocation says an IP address belongs.  For consumers, the location accuracy is good enough to “find singles in your area” and nudge you towards the correct regional store, but not much else.

If you host with Amazon, your European IP address will resolve to a server in Dublin; if you host with Google you’re most likely on a server in Belgium but your IP will resolve to Mountain View, California. Rackspace’s European data center is in London but their cloud offering is rather simplistic compared to the others. The simple fact is, as long as your site is fast for your customers, the physical location doesn’t matter any more.  The cloud: a global phenomenon that doesn’t care about borders.

Google have publicly stated that IP address geolocation has almost no bearing on SEO scores, and trying to work around things with proxies will only introduce latency and hurt your rankings thanks to slower response times.

The most important factors with regard to geographically targeting your SEO in 2016 is your domain name, your connected meta services (Google Places, Webmasters), and of course your social media presence.

The IP address is not important any more. Just shoot for value, flexibility and performance.

To fnd out more about this issue or to seek help from BritWeb in terms of your SEO, call us today on 01403 261491 or email [email protected]


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