There have been many ifs and buts on the correlation of Cloudflare SEO. However, the debate still remains open-ended leaving people skeptical on “Whether Cloudflare will impact my website’s ranking or not?
We have been using Cloudflare for almost 4 years now. Undoubtedly, their service is great (and free!) and we even recommend it to our clients for DNS, Caching, Security, and CDN.
An Unusual Case of a Sudden SEO Ranking Drop – IndiaCarNews.com
Back on a Friday afternoon in late April, I received an urgent call from one of our clients, Vikas, (Owner, Indiacarnews.com), worried over losing their SEO rank on almost all their top keywords and their organic traffic had almost dropped to zero.
Imagine all the years’ hard work put in to reach the top in SEO and losing all of that in a moment.
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Unsure of how and why this happened, his SEO team rolled back every possible change done in last 7 days including any plugin addition or edits but nothing worked in their favour.
We rolled back whatever minor changes were done in the server-side settings in hope to see a positive sign.
Expecting to find a possible breakthrough, we thoroughly checked the Google Webmasters to get answers to the sudden dip in the SEO traffic.
After hours of brainstorming sessions with the client and his team, we had almost thought of succumbing to the situation. Fortunately, we came across a few posts that hinted at Cloudflare being the culprit for SEO ranking drop:
At first, we were a little sceptical about this step as Indiacarnews.com had been using the Cloudflare Pro plan for over a year without any problems.
Moreover, we had never faced such an issue in any of our own websites or websites of our clients that use Cloudflare.
But the gravity of the situation demanded to think beyond previous experiences and logic. So Vikas gave us a green signal and we went ahead with disabling CloudFlare on the night of 29th April.
He called me up on 30th April morning to inform that their SEO ranking is back on Google’s first page and the organic traffic has started to get back on track.
Both Vikas and I were still not 100% convinced that Cloudflare could be the culprit and thought it might be coincidental.
So we decided to open a ticket to Cloudflare support. As expected, their support also said that such a drop in SEO could only be coincidental.
Since it was a critical issue for Vikas as a business owner, a proper closure was required. We decided to enable Cloudflare once again and see if the SEO is impacted.
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To our surprise, the same SEO dip happened again just hours after we enabled Cloudflare. And yet again, the rankings came back to normal after we finally disabled Cloudflare.
Now, the question “How Cloudflare could possibly hurt my website’s SEO?” had to be answered.
So what actually happens when you enable CloudFlare?
- Your site is no longer served from its original IP, that is, the IP of your server. But it is going to have the IP of the proxy server i.e. Cloudflare.
- The IP will change depending on the geolocation of the requesting client. This means, Cloudflare basically becomes your DNS.
- Your site will share those IPs with many other sites using the Cloudflare service. Those sites could be big enterprises or a spammer or malware, distributor.
So, it seems a bad neighborhood or a shared IP might have done the damage here but we do not have any evidence to back this claim except the observations and graphs shared. Try using a dedicated IP address if this is the case.
As we mentioned before, drops in SEO rankings when going behind Cloudflare rarely happen.
Unless you end up sharing an IP with a network of websites that could potentially get that IP demoted with Google.
This is a one-off case we came across out of hundreds of websites we manage that use Cloudflare services.
I hope this case study helps others make their decisions based on facts and not rumours.
If you have a similar story to share, we would love to hear that in the comment section below!