How Many Sites Should You Host on One Server?

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hostingThere was a time, not so long ago, when I would have told you that the only time you need to split your sites up between different servers/hosts is when you’re linking your sites together, in order to keep the links from being discounted by Google. The last part of that still holds true, but these days there are more reasons than just that one, to split your sites up between different servers/hosts.

Google doesn’t necessarily have a problem with Internet Marketers. Google is one of the most successful Internet Marketing companies in history. Although, they are also the most successful content scrapers and tell us not to scrap content (talk about the pot calling the kettle black), but that’s a whole other discussion. Most of the websites on the internet are commercially driven, so obviously they can’t penalize commercial sites, nor would they want to, but what they do NOT like is what they consider low-quality content.

What is low quality content? I’m sure Google could give you many different scenarios and definitions, but to make things simple, any content that was published with the sole intention of making ad revenue, affiliate commissions or generating links, rather than content that was published to legitimately help the website visitor.

That means that sites that were created strictly for adsense revenue and sites that were created strictly for affiliate revenue, in Google’s eyes, are low-quality and if they had their way they would rid the Internet of them all. Of course they can’t do that, but what they can do is put algorithms in place to find them (and manual reviewers) and then lower their ranking or de-index them altogether.

They do this in many ways. One of which is by looking at website IP’s, NOT just the c-class, but the entire datacenter. If you think about it, why would Google stop at the c-class when they can easily look through the entire data-center. They wouldn’t, and judging by my own experience, they don’t. That’s not to say they are going to penalize an entire data-center because of one or two sites, but if there is a unusually high number of sites on one datacenter that has been flagged, I’m SURE they’re going to look into it.

How EXACTLY do they do this? One way is with manual reviewers.¬†Google uses manual reviewers (actual people who find sites that they believe do not meet Google’s quality standards) who flag sites. If there are a high number of sites on one IP, or on one c-class, or on one data-center, that have been flagged, in one way or another, do you think Google will just ignore that? I don’t.

Another way is by looking at the registration of sites. That’s an EASY way to tie ALL sites from one owner together. So use private registration! Google cannot “penetrate” private registration.

So can you avoid using multiple servers/hosts if you own a bunch of sites? Yes, as long as the quality of your sites REALLY is high, but if you want to stay on the safe side, ESPECIALLY if you have a bunch of sites that are very similar (like a bunch of adsense sites or affiliate sites that share a similar structure) then I recommend splitting them all up between completely different hosts and ideally those hosts each have data-centers in different countries across the world.

What about “SEO Hosting” companies that allow you to put your sites on different IP’s within the same hosting account? I believe most, if not all, of those data-centers are flagged by Google. That doesn’t necessarily mean that sites on those accounts can’t rank, but I definitely believe Google watches them. I know more than one of the big link networks that Google penalized a year or two ago had their network sites hosted on SEO hosting company servers and it didn’t make a bit of difference, all of their sites were quickly de-indexed. And the one link network that MADE IT (until everyone was so scared of link networks in general, that many cancelled with this one too, out of fear) had their customers hosting the network sites… that network did have sites de-indexed as well (primarily due to user’s reporting them to Google), but the deindexed sites were a small percentage compared to the other big link networks that used SEO hosting accounts and that particular link network was the last to “go down.” Are they all flagged in Google? I don’t know for sure, but I know that I don’t trust them!

So how many sites should you host on one server? The short answer is that you CAN host as many as you want if the quality is truly high and you’re not doing anything at all that a manual reviewer (or algorithm) would consider bad in any way. But it can get messy really fast with Google and their constantly changing double-standards, so the safest way to go is to not host anymore than 25-50 sites on one data-center.

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Thanks for the great article. I have pondered this question many times and the cost factor of having separate servers. I now use shared servers as I have many websites. I am interested as to your reply to Philips question. Thanks.