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Why C-Class IP Addresses DON’T matter for your SEO Rankings

If you read SEO Blogs in search of awesome SEO strategies, there’s no doubt you came across the term C-Class IP’s. Take Brian Dean’s 200 ranking factors as an example.

I’m going to prove that this absolutely doesn’t matter – just as Google has been saying.

That’s right, it doesn’t matter and here’s why…

The internet moved away from classful systems, and moved towards a classless system. This allowed for the maximum flexibility within the IPv4 protocol, and the later introduction of CIDR notation means that it’s as flexible as it’s ever been.

So whilst an IP address is an indication of hosts and networks, it’s no indication of server location, or geographical diversity.

Don’t believe me? Try using the following unique C-Block IP addresses in the below tool:

http://www.monitis.com/traceroute/

34.253.128.155

52.30.154.63
46.137.107.63

But I won’t leave you confused.

By the end of this article you will have loads of awesome link building tips and tools for ranking your money site. Plus, an added layer of protection for your link building.

The Not-So Beautiful Birth of The Internet

It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of the internet.

The internet is so easy to use, yet underneath the hood is an absolute monster. And whilst we browse bad memes on Facebook, there’s actually a growling beast underneath it all.

In the 1980’s a group of engineers gave birth to the internet… but rather than bore you with this – let’s fast forward to the important bits…

Initially, the Internet Protocol 4 was used as part of an Internet classification system, designed for experimentation. It’s an experiment that escaped the lab, and the community grew attached to it – despite its limitations (CBS News, 2015).

There were no Subnet masks and you could tell classification by looking at the first octet. It’s called an octet because it is 8 bits, representing a value between 0 and 255.

There are 4 octets in IPv4, which each hold 8 bits of information. Therefore, an IP Address is a 32-bit number represented in 1’s and 0’s.

Here’s an example of how SEO’s think this works:

A Block . B Block . C Block . D Block
34 . 253 . 128 . 155
100010 . 11111101 . 10000000 . 10011011

 

Many SEOs will call the first octet the A-Block, but in reality this octet used to be the only way to classify an IP address. Instead of A-Blocks, the first octet was once used to refer to a server address and this is how IPv4 was designed to work.

Check out this helpful table below to understand what class your IP address would be:

Classification Start IP End IP
Class A 1.000.000.000 126.255.255.255
Class B 128.000.000.000 191.255.255.255
Class C 192.000.000.000 223.255.255.255
Class D 224.000.000.000 239.255.255.255
Class E 240.000.000.000 254.255.255.255

 

But there’s more to the picture…

By the late 1980’s, the engineers behind the internet realised there was an issue. IPv4 was not large enough for the Internet.

To solve this, engineers began working on a new protocol. We call this IPv6, and it includes 128-Bits. This means that future engineers will have an insane amount of IP addresses to choose:

There will be 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to be exact.

I am about to show you how the internet survived in the meantime.

The Internet Ran Out of IP Addresses.

Despite what digital marketers and hosting companies want you to believe, IP addresses do not matter for SEO – at all.

However, it is good for providers to pretend they do.

It’s a fairly easy way to increase the price of your product if you tell people that you offer a unique service, for the exact problem they want to solve.

The truth is that a non-profit organizations such as American Registry for Internet Numbers helps to manage the Autonomous Systems Numbers, and IP allocation in their region.

In this example, ARIN covers Canada, United States, and Caribbean and North Atlantic Islands, whilst the other four Regional Internet Registrars cover the rest of the globe. These RIRs are called AFRINIC, APNIC, LACNIC, and RIPE NCC.

It’s called scarcity and if you think you’ll miss out, or run out of time, then your brain wants to know more – it’s our curious nature.

But the truth is that when engineers realised we would run out, they created a quick fix to get us through a bumpy ride. This is the birth of Sub-Networks, and the need for DNS records.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-internet-has-run-out-of-ip-addresses-sort-of-ipv4/

Why does this all matter?

I find it very surprising that people talk so much about anchor text optimisation, keyword stuffing, and content writing – but very little about their website’s technical composition.

Google has patented technology that clearly states it will look at DNS Records, IP addresses, and determine the legitimacy of a website.

One of the most simple parts of on-site audits is recommending that my clients renew their domain for 2 – 3 years, just to boost the legitimacy of their website. This also works If you buy some high quality domains to make PBNs – you should consider renewing for similar amounts of time to gain additional legitimacy.

Here’s a snippet from their patent:

Certain signals may be used to distinguish between illegitimate and legitimate domains. For example, domains can be renewed up to a period of 10 years. Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain and, thus, the documents associated therewith.

Also, or alternatively, the domain name server (DNS) record for a domain may be monitored to predict whether a domain is legitimate. The DNS record contains details of who registered the domain, administrative and technical addresses, and the addresses of name servers (i.e., servers that resolve the domain name into an IP address).

https://www.google.com/patents/US7346839

It makes very little sense to conclude that Google is only interested in C-Block or C-Class IP Addresses – based on this patent. Especially now that we know how long ago the internet moved away from class based infrastructure.

If Google is already looking at DNS, WhoIs and Server details – why wouldn’t they also be grabbing the data on geolocation of that server?

But the last part is the most scary.

If Google has determined your server is illegitimate, they can use that against the doctors within, therefore reducing the power of all your domains. Avoiding detection for any of this should be the forefront of every link building strategy.

What about Studies That Show C-Block IPs matter?

Undoubtedly there are conflicts of opinion on this topic. For example, this article suggests huge results as recent as November 2017.

But why do I think their tests are flawed?

Firstly, I have provided a tool that you can use to conduct your own test. There are several samples to check for yourself. In the science community this would be called peer review and the objective is to recreate the test and prove somebody wrong.

There’s absolutely no data in their article, just an opinion and plea to take their word.

The truth is, that if you have 10 C-Blocks on completely different servers, then it obviously is not going to be a negative ranking factor.

But, I don’t think there’s a positive boost either.

Some ranking factors are only negative and maximising against them isn’t necessary. You simply need to meet a threshold amount and everything afterwards is fine. Page loading speed is another example, that once you’re fast enough – you’re not going to rank by reducing it to milliseconds.

However, like a placebo, the absence of a negative signal gives the impression of a positive boost when contrasted – thus the illusion of a ranking benefit is observed.

They haven’t provided any server information, just the promise that they tested some IPs and it worked out well for them.

For the very little that the post actually proves, it may as well read “link building still works in 2018.” – Who knew?

How Google track Geolocation Diversity.

It’s easy to forget that the internet is a connection of computers, sharing data.

With browsers like Chrome, Safari, and an honourable mention to Edge – it’s as if web pages just appear on our screens via magic.

The truth is, that in order for your website to be available to the public, there needs to be records of your website, and a publicly available copy.

Google crawls the web, and their core mandate will look something like this:

  • Gather as much meaningful data as possible, with everything they crawl.
  • Reduce computational costs for servers and processors, whilst maximising their existing resources.

In order to do this, Google is going to want easily collected and processed data – such as domain public records such as IP, DNS, WhoIs, and Data Center information.

We can see in the below video, that Matt Cutts (2009) claims that server location is a ranking factor. This doesn’t confirm what I am saying about C-Blocks is true. However, it shows that Google is collecting this data.

So whilst we can show that IP Addresses do not suggest servers or geographic location – they can get this information through other methods.

 

How You Can Manipulate This…

I don’t know if you really need to manipulate this, but if you want to – there are some ways to do it.

Private Blog Networks

The first is to host your PBNs on many different servers. These can be in the same country, but shouldn’t be in the same data center.

If you’re doing private hosting, this means acquiring servers all over the globe. It would make sense to host global TLDs across all of them, but you should preferably put ccTLDs on those servers and this will be very natural.

Avoid SEO hosting services that host all their IPs on the same data center. You may have all the C-Block diversity in the world, but if it’s all on the same server you can still get stung.

Outreach Campaigns

If your idea of white hat link building is ordering from online suppliers, you should be careful.

Some of these suppliers use hacked sites to insert links, whilst others are glorified PBNs.

The safest method is to do the outreach yourself, to real site owners. You can vet them before you purchase anything, and if your content is not just 6000 words of waffle – links are likely.

However, if you’re in a pinch for time and need some fast links – quality check them with these tools after you purchased:

  • InfoByIP
  • Monitis

But is it worth it?

There is a lot of work and effort that needs to be put into manipulating geolocation diversity.

My opinion is that it’s not ultimately worth doing, but it’s worth avoiding too many links from the same server – especially for PBN users.

And this article demonstrates that even if they have different IP Addresses, they could be located in the same rack mounted server unit.

If you are doing white hat link building then you are going to naturally get a huge spread. Each webmaster will choose their preferred hosting company and be placed on servers that are local to them – at least if they want to gain ranking boosts from hosting where their audience is.

My name is Rowan Collins, and I am an SEO Specialist based in London. I started SEO back in 2016 after moving from an eCommerce company to an agency. Since then, I have enjoyed years of experience on websites from a plethora of niches. I pride myself in my Christian beliefs and focus on helping others to improve at digital marketing.

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