Dedicated IP Hosting – The Smart Choice for Small Business Owners and Professional Service Providers

by Jay Purner, JaCorWeb

Many small business owners and professional services providers believe that once a domain name has been registered, a unique address on the Internet has been secured for the website that will occupy that domain name. The truth is that when your domain name gets typed into a Web browser for display on a computer screen, that browser must first convert the domain name into an IP address, then find the domain name within the IP, and then your website gets displayed.

Sounds confusing? Think of the Internet as a street lined with both one-family buildings and apartment buildings. Each building represents an IP address, and in the case of the apartment buildings, each unit represents a domain name residing within a given IP address.

Websites are hosted on Web servers. The term Web server, simply refers to a computer (a PC) that ‘serves’ a website to the internet. If only one website occupies all of the disk space on that computer, then that website is hosted on a dedicated server. This can be quite costly, and contains more disk space than a small business or professional services provider website usually requires.

Most of the larger Web hosting companies (eg. Go Daddy) offer a solution that is somewhere in between. This is known as dedicated IP hosting. It is only marginally more expensive than standard shared hosting, but provides some definite advantages.

Generally speaking, shared hosting (occupying an apartment unit) creates no problems with the way your website functions on the Internet. It poses no negative consequences to loading speed, has no deleterious effect on appearance.

While not a major SEO (Search Engine Optimization) factor affecting ranking, shared hosting can become a significant factor if you do business in a particularly competitive niche (eg. real estate). In other words, if a search engine has to choose between placing a site hosted on a dedicated IP and one with shared hosting in the last spot on page one of the search engine results pages, it will likely choose the one hosted on a dedicated IP. More importantly, if one of the other websites on an IP is engaging in ‘black hat’ (objectionable) practices, a search engine will summarily block the entire IP (apartment building) until a human editor goes through and determines which specific domain name is the offender. Finally, if you plan to sell products or services directly from your website, you must have dedicated IP hosting and an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate in order for credit card transactions to be processed properly and securely.

If you want to determine whether your website has shared hosting, or is hosted on a dedicated IP, you can go to DomainTools.com, and enter your domain name in the text box provided. After clicking on ‘search’, scroll down until you can see the ‘reverse IP’ section. If you have shared hosting, you will see exactly how many websites are hosted on your address. if you have a dedicated IP, that will be noted here, as well.

If more than one website is hosted on your server, select the ‘Server Stats’ tab. Next to the ‘IP address’ section, you will find four groups of numbers (known as octets) separated by periods. This is your actual Web address; this is your IP address. If you click on the ‘reverse IP’ link next to the numbers, you can see some of the websites that share your Web address.

Another way to demonstrate this concept is to copy the octets directly into the browser bar and search for your website by its IP address. If you have a dedicated IP, your website will resolve (appear) on your computer screen when you hit enter (or click the right-pointing green arrow). With shared hosting, you’ll get an error message because the Web browser can’t figure out exactly which website you are trying to reach!

In my opinion, a Web developer should care enough about the integrity of his or her clients’ websites to host each one on a dedicated IP. Although a problem may never arise, there is enough of a chance that one could and that dedicated IP hosting is the smart choice for small business owners and professional services providers.

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{ 1 comment }

Barbara Day Barbara Day July 30, 2011 at 10:46 am

This is really helpful. Have noticed some issues with my hosting service and will use the steps you’ve outlined. Will also be looking into getting a dedicated IP for my site and my client’s sites. Thanks!

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