Making your WhoIs entry private may be tempting to keep your personal details safe, but have you thought of the side effects on your SEO or email deliverability?
The not-so-tempting part to making your WhoIs private is that your domain provider will usually charge you a pretty penny for doing so, but still, there are some good reasons to make it private. Mat Honan even talked in detail about how he was hacked in part by the hackers using his WhoIs entry to gain more details. Don’t let that put you off, though.
What is WhoIs?
WhoIs holds records of the owner of all domains. It’s an online database, publicly available to anyone who fancies doing some digging. In the interest of freedom of information, anyone can do a domain search to find the name and address of who owns any domain name. You can register as an individual or in the name of your company. Either way, there’s some pretty sensitive info there. Take a look at who.is and do a search on anyone you like. Easy, right?
The benefits of having a private WhoIs
As mentioned earlier, there’s a real risk to your personal security if your WhoIs record is public, especially if you register a domain as an individual, as you may well have your home address on show in that instance. Not ideal. If you register your domain at your company’s address it’s much safer, as that address is probably on your website anyway. Other than that, there’s no benefit to making it private.
The benefits to SEO for having a public WhoIs
Google has literally hundreds of different ranking algorithms. Focusing on some of these will have a big impact on your ranks, some much less so. Here’s a short answer – Having your WhoIs public will improve your SEO ranks. How much will it improve? Here’s a screen shot of Analytics data from a case study by Business2Community showing the impact of a public WhoIs. These changes really show significant increases and decreases.
The dip is when they made their WhoIs private. The increase after is when they made it public again. Can’t deny that evidence.
The benefits to email deliverability for having a public WhoIs
Email service providers, like search engines, use a number of factors to determine the performance with their technology. Email service providers have to manage spam emails for the peace of mind to their users and as such have to find reassurances from an email sender that they’re not sending junk. Some ESPs have openly confirmed that a private WhoIs has a negative effect on deliverability, which isn’t good news for some companies. Even if you’re only sending emails to clients from your Outlook account, this could still be affecting those emails getting to their inbox. If you’re sending emailers to large lists of contacts, this impact will be even greater.
In true hippocratic style, our WhoIs is private. We had reasons for this at the time of setting up our domain, but we don’t have those reasons any more. So, we’re going to test our logic by making it public. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear of the impact, if any, in the next couple of months.