Whois privacy may hurt your SEO and search marketing

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Whois privacy, something that many domain name registrars like GoDaddy will try to sell you, but that you probably don’t need, and don’t want  As much as domain name registrars will encourage you to make your registration information private and buy their upsell add-on annual fee, I have another view.  Unless you have a compelling reason other than spam, I recommend not to do it.  Compelling reasons could include a “no outside employment” agreement or perceived social acceptability of your site’s products/offering

As for spam, face it, if you are doing business on the internet with a website you will get spam. There are ways to reduce and fight spam, but be cautious about using domain name privacy to do so.

How might having your domain registration details private hurt?  Well it turns out spam and scam websites often do have the registration privacy in-place.  (you can reason why) While most legitimate sites don’t.  Whois privacy can present a certain type of site profile.

And it is interesting when Matt Cutts (Google anti-spam team leader) was reviewing sites for SEO effectiveness and he had this to say about a HiFi store website:

The HiFi store was fine, but this was another example where someone had 40+ other sites. Having lots of sites isn’t bad, but I’ve mentioned the risk that not all the sites get as much attention as they should. In this case, 1-2 of the sites were stuff like cheap-cheap-(something-related-to-telephone-calling).com. Rather than any real content, most of the pages were pay-per-click (PPC) parked pages, and when I checked the whois on them, they all had “whois privacy protection service” on them. That’s relatively unusual. Having lots of sites isn’t automatically bad, and having PPC sites isn’t automatically bad, and having whois privacy turned on isn’t automatically bad, but once you get several of these factors all together, you’re often talking about a very different type of webmaster than the fellow who just has a single site or so.

More directly Jon Glick, former key member of the Yahoo! search team said this about using Whois domain registration privacy:

This is one more potential “flag” that can earn you points to a spam audit. It works well for spammers who are attempting to keep the engines from finding all their sites in one swoop. Those guys are in the business of disposable domains; if you’re not it’s better to avoid this tactic.

So this is one area where you can save money and perhaps help enhance your SEO.  Particularly if you put that savings towards a longer domain name registration period.

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