Ask the Experts: Will Moving to a new Server (IP) Affect Search Rankings?

by Gradiva Couzin on May 8, 2006

Q: If our IT department wants to change the server that our website resides on, will this affect our search engine rankings?

A: A change in your server (which will be a change in your website’s IP address) or website hosting service does not need to affect your search engine placement. Just be sure of a few things:

  • Make sure the website doesn’t go “down” for any period. Have all the site files tested and ready on the new server before making the switch.
  • Do not change any URLs.
  • Watch out for capitalization issues. Some servers are case-sensitive while others are not. If this is the case with your switch, then you should run a site-wide link check after the switchover to be sure that all links are working (here’s a free online link checker), and spend some time checking for inlinks from other sites and making sure that they are still functioning. If necessary, you may need to set up 301 redirects (your IT department will know what this is) from caps/noncaps URLs to lowercase URLs.
  • Keep the old site files accessible on the old server for a period of time (some experts recommend a day, some a month) after the switchover. This will allow websites and search engines to update their caches.
  • Test, test, test! After site launch, run a “site:www.mysite.com” search on Google and click on the links to be sure that everything is behaving just the way you – and your potential customers – expect. (see our Handy Search Shortcuts for other cool ways to search for your site)
  • Consider possible issues with international SEO targeting.  Your server’s geographical location can be a factor; see Will an International Server Location affect My Google Ranks? for more info.

Here are a few other helpful articles on changing servers, hosting service, or domains:

  • A 2003 article by Taming the Beast offers lots of great general tips on changing servers and addresses some specifics of moving hosts from one country to another.
  • A very helpful and detailed posting from Google’s well known engineer, Matt Cutt’s, spells out the best practices for moving to a new web host.

We wish your site the best of luck at its new home, and don’t forget to invite us to the housewarming party!

Share

We’ve been helping customers improve their search engine ranks and conversion rates for over a decade. We consult on SEO and social media for major brands, one-person shops, and everything in between. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Carl April 12, 2010 at 10:03 am

How does moving a website to a new IP address affect website ownership from Google’s point of view? I made the mistake of building a website that points to my main website but both websites were hosted on the same IP. If I move my smaller website to a new IP address will Google remember that this website use to be on the same IP address as my main website and not count the back link?

Gradiva Couzin April 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

HI Carl,
I don’t know if Google will recognize this or if it affects the value of the links. Although, naturally, it’s good to maximize any power from domains you own or control, in the grand scheme of things your best bet will be to look outward toward ways your site can be “linkworthy” and gain links from domains other than those you own.

Diana April 27, 2010 at 1:26 am

I have the same question: I received an email from my host provider ‘We’re very pleased to inform that we have acquired brand new top of the line servers, and all accounts will be moved on May 1st, at 8.00 PM EST.
This process will take around twelve hours, and domain propagation will depend on your ISPs, which will probably take about 2 to 24 hours.’

Will this affect my search engine placement? Thanks.

Gradiva Couzin April 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

Hi Diana,
I wouldn’t expect your host moving to a new server to cause a problem for search engine ranks. If your host goes about this the right way, your site shouldn’t even have any down time. Do be sure that you download and save a copy of your entire site, if possible, before the switch just in case something goes wrong during this process.
Best,
Gradiva

SEO Online Forums July 2, 2010 at 7:26 pm

It caused problems for me. I changed servers with no site down time recently just before the July 4th page rank update. My site is fairly new and Ive been ranking very well in a competitive niche. Since changing servers I noticed a 140 place drop for my targeted keyword phrase and my site visitors are now 2 to 3 people per day down from almost 50. Perhaps it may be because my domain is fairly new or Googles’ PR reshuffle but I can’t really blame it on anything else. I wish I would have waited till after the Google update. If you can I would suggest the same to everyone too. If I see a dramatic rise in PR within a few weeks after the update I’ll come back and post a comment here.

Mark Casey August 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

Thanks for this information this is a great help as a client of ours is about to switch over a number of their sites onto our hosting.

We have another question? Another client of our wishes to purchase a number of domains for their members, would it be better to have one domain with sub domains, or buy the individual domains. How does this effect SEO?

Thanks Again

Ricardo Elsewhere October 22, 2011 at 9:02 am

Thank you for your article. Here’s a twist on your theme.
I’ve just moved http://www.dotorgwebworks.org from a dedicated hosting service (Jumpline.com) to a shared hosting service (FatCow). However, the new hosting service has my account under a new domain name: http://www.doww.org. My question is, will I need to get the new hosting service (FatCow) to change the account domain from http://www.doww.org to http://www.dotorgwebworks.org if I’m to retain the same good Google position that I now enjoy for dotorgwebworks.org. Or, now since I have pointed http://www.dotorgwebworks.org to the http://www.doww.org account it makes no difference.

Jade C March 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I too have noticed a drop in my google rankings once I have changed servers. My domain stayed the same though so I don’t quite understand why. I hope I get back up soon :/

Mr Jatt May 2, 2012 at 12:49 am

I changed my server as my previous hosting provided shut down my account without and prior notice and upon inquring gave me a lame excuse anyway i changed my hosting provider after two days of outage only to find out my visitors has dropped by 40% and some of the keywords that used to be found on first page of good are nowhere to be found. hope to come up wth the previous rankings. lets see how much time google takes

SEO company September 28, 2013 at 7:25 am

I wish I would have waited till after the Google update. If you can I would suggest the same to everyone too. If I see a dramatic rise in PR within a few weeks after the update I’ll come back and post a comment here.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: