What You Can Learn From Your (IP) Neighbors

What exactly are IP Neighbors?  An IP neighborhood of sites is made up of every website that shares an IP.  If you have a dedicated server that just hosts your site, there’s not much to worry about, but like most people who have shared hosting, there are some things you need to know.

First, you have to find your neighbors.  There are several tools online to find out what sites share an IP.  My favorite search is provided by DnsQueries.

If you have a shared server you need to find out what other sites share that IP with you.  If some other site is malicious and spamming or distributing viruses, spyware or malware, ISPs or search engines might block the whole IP and your site would be affected.  If you find that the other sites on your shared server are spamming or doing other unsavory things, you need to move hosts.

Another reason it’s good to know who your neighbors are is because of the load they put on the server and the internet connection.  If you share a server with video sites or super-flash heavy sites with lots of traffic, your site’s performance may be reduced.  If the server admin hasn’t properly set resource limits for each site on the server, the other sites will hog the box and slow down delivery of your website.  That’s not fair.  You’re not getting what you pay for.

One final thing that I’ll say about the IP neighbor tool is that you can use it to “spy” on your competition.  If your SEO / design competition also provides hosting services, you can very quickly get a deep look into their client base.  That’s all I have to say about that.  ;-)

Most hosts won’t move your site to another server unless you really holler and complain.  Your best bet is to present strong documented proof  of why you want to move and tell them that if they don’t move you, you’re changing hosts.

In order to really understand what your IP neighbors are doing, I recommend that you hire an expert SEO to conduct the evaluation.  The SEO you choose should be able to do “forensic” style studies on your neighboring sites.  If you’re going to pin your hopes on the success of your beautiful website, you’d better have a clean place to put it.

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