It is well known that a website’s “history” is a significant factor in how a website ranks in organic search results, especially in Google. Factors such as the age of the domain, how long the domain has been registered to the same owner, the age of URLs on the site and how long the site has been hosted on the same IP address have long been considered factors in SEO rankings.
For these reasons, when a website is being moved to new hosting or there is otherwise going to be a change in IP address, there is the question of whether the SEO rankings for that site will go down. In the past, I have seen temporary dips (3-6 weeks) in rankings for site moves, but I had not moved a website recently so that is old data.
Recently we moved the LeadQual website to a new hosting facility (so we could more easily launch this blog), so this gave us the opportunity to carefully measure the impact of a site move.
We had done some prior optimization on the site and let that settle, then we did the site move and measured rankings for 6 weeks. Over that period, there was no significant change in rankings on any of the big 3 engines (Google, Yahoo! or MSN Live). If anything, we drifted up a little after the move:
Just to see if Google was paying attention, we did some minor optimization for a few keywords such as “lead qualification“, and within a couple weeks we saw a positive impact:
So, while this is only one data point, it does seem that the age of the IP address for a website has little, if any, impact on SEO rankings, at least for a website like ours. Because there are so many factors for SEO rankings, it is hard to extrapolate this one test to other websites. However, from this and prior experiences I think it is generally safe to move websites when needed, since the impact on rankings is likely to be temporary or no impact at all. Of course, you do need to consider other factors, such as the history of the new IP address (e.g., whether it has been banned or penalized in the past), so there are still other risks to be considered.