IPv6 and search – getting ready for the future

IPv6 and search – getting ready for the future

4th February 2011

Today we welcome a new blogger to our team: Martijn Beijk. Welcome Martijn, good to have you on board!

The Internet has integrated fully with our everyday live – some of us cannot live without. This has made (at least most of) us forget how the internet started to exist and what the underlying architecture is. Even with search we have to deal with the architecture of the Internet everyday.

Your computer is connected to the Internet via your Internet Service Provider or your router (which probably uses Network Address Translation) – which in its turn is connected to your ISP. You might be browsing via a proxy. Everything connected to the Internet uses an IP (Internet Protocol)  address. You might  not be aware that when you type in www.stateofdigital.com there is an extra service (DNS) translating the domainname to an IP address for you so you will not have to memorize all the  billions of numbers.

Not trying to get into too much technical detail, the IP addresses that are available in the IPv4 (version 4 of IP)  are now fully allocated. the last blocks have been depleted. none left. Time to look into the future, what can you expect.

So what happens now?

Luckily, for many years already, people have been working on the successor of IPv4, IPv6. IPv6 is going to be the new set standard and because this is a 64bit number has a lot more numbers to allocate. Currently the web will move towards transition of IPv4 to IPv6.

Net giants Google, Facebook, Akamai and Yahoo have commited to take part in what is known as the ‘test flight’ of IPv6. Some services and website are already available via IPv6, like Google over IPv6 or some Usenet services offer you access without subscription, to promote the use of IPv6 , Your ISP or your hosting company might already provide IPv6 addresses – yet your software and hardware may not be configured to use it. Webservers need new or adapted config files. Firewall rules need to be changed,. etc.  All this is the part you probably won’t see.

IPv6 and Search?

Currently websites are accessible by using IPv4 addresses and some of them might be enabled via IPv6. Google crawls the IPv6 web and is also keeping an index of ipv6 enabled (must be IPv6 enabled!) websites.  Certain questions may arise: how will Google handle link neighbourhood, previous C-classes etc? Will Google prefer IPv6 websites over IPv4 only websites?  When will all Google software like Google Analytics be able to deal, filter and report this traffic?

Google itself yesterday reacted on the new situation. In an official blogpost they announced they will be participating in the planned World IPv6 Day, scheduled for June 8, 2011. On this day, all of the participating organizations will enable access to as many services as possible via IPv6.


The move towards IPv6 is inevitable. It is up to the people responsable for infrastructure and service how fast this will be deployed in IPv6 and the transition period (using IP6to4, 4to6). I bet that after the first test flight of our internet giants things will move fast. IPv6 will be a faster internet as well, because of reducing overhead that is there in the IPv4 protocol – and isn’t speed what we have been talking about for a long time now already?

Written By
Martijn Beijk is an SEO & Web Analytics consultant, international speaker and lecturer. He is one of the participants of the Local Search Ranking Factors.
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