Domains are like names in a phone book—you know, the million-page antique we use as door stops—and the IPs they’re hosted under act as phone numbers. When you sign up for yours, you can opt to be listed publicly or remain anonymous (to an extent). But could your need for privacy be affecting your SEO?
It’s a longshot, but unverified registration information could be a factor in how much traffic you’re pulling in. Let’s dive right in.
SEO & WhoIs Privacy
For a while now, debates have lurked in the background as to the effect private WhoIs information has on SEO and rankings. In theory, your privacy shouldn’t impede progress toward the top of the SERP, but it’s perhaps not as cut and dried as that. The biggest question we should ask is this: Does Google trust a domain with private WhoIs information?
Check out this case study from back in September 2016. The site in question saw daily page views drop from 3,000 to zilch overnight after a domain transfer and WhoIs settings were reset. Odd indeed.
Upon investigation, the domain’s listed public address was a PO Box in Panama (Panama-a!)—a bit of a drive from America. When the domain transferred hosts, the incoming public contact information was not imported. Correcting the domain registrar information solved the problem immediately.
Did Google Crawl Domain & Find it Untrustworthy?
Google may pull the WhoIs information on newly transferred domains—they crawl sites regularly, especially when an IP change is evident—and apply gags for a short time.
They might have viewed the new registrant as a fraud who has already been penalized in the past.
Or perhaps it was caused by a host of other issues, including downtime, maintenance, invalid SSL certificates, missed crawls, etc.
The reasons for this penalty are unknown, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck—Google likely viewed the domain change as suspect and issued a “suspension” of sorts.
How To Check Your WhoIs Privacy
This is an easy task with two options:
- Look at the account and domain settings on your hosting registrar (GoDaddy, etc.).
- Conduct a search of your domain for free on sites like icann.org , whois.com, godaddy.com/whois, etc. If results pop up with a “Registration Private” listed as the name, or unusual contact information is anywhere on the site, you might want to change your settings and run a helpful, albeit risky, A/B test for a few days. And, please, leave us a comment if you find something interesting!
TL;DR – Changing your domain privacy settings to display public information might not bump up your SEO, but it certainly won’t hurt it. As always, if you need help managing your website, including your domain settings and site optimization, make sure to contact OppMax’s SEO squad.
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