|Can changing your legal name affect your domain's pagerank?|
For personal reasons I decided to change my last name to what my Uncle, Aunt, and cousins have had for years. My last name I had was only in about 5 generations and wanted to go back to what it used to be. I went and got a court order and changed my driver's license, etc.
One of the websites I have has had PR6 to PR8. Currently it was a PR6 and have not been below that in probably 4 or 5 years.
The day before yesterday I decided to change my whois contacts to reflect my name change. 2 days later (today) my PR on the site has dropped from PR6 to PR4. This seems like an awful coincidence to me, even though the owner is the same, although I can see how it would appear to be different to a "bot".
Has anybody had or heard of any evidence of this, and is there anyway to lift what might be a penalty because of this?
Reverse the change and find out. :)
In the past I would have said definitely no, but now I can only give it 95% no. Google has been making what I can only call artificial changes to toolbar PR since last October, for sites involved in link buying and selling. So we know they are willing to play with the toolbar PR values.
Other factors play in here - are you sure of the timing? We're at the tail end of a "PR Update" and if your PR changed just a few days before you noticed it, that's a more likely cause.
In other words, your new PR value represents a change that has already been in place behind the scene for quite a few weeks. Remembr, Google is calculating "real" PR continually for all your urls, not just your home page. PR is essentially determined by other pages linking to yours, how strong they are and how many total links are on their linking page. I wouldn't expect your legal name change to affect that kind of scoring.
Even when the Whois information changes, as long as the site remains essentially the same and the domain name ownership did not drop completely, it's not common to see any demotions of any kind. If by some chance the domain does drop for a period, then Google has said they "reset" all values - and I would expect PR0 in that case, not PR4.
So I still think the PR change you noticed is probably not related to you changing your name. Have you noticed any ranking changes? That of course is the most important area to pay attention to.
Paranoia perhaps? I seriously doubt that Google would use those parameters to change your page rank.
Could be paranoia. For some reason I remember that I heard Google could be watching the whois records to de-value domains sold to other parties as Google might not want to "trust" them then. Could make sense to me why Google would use such a practice if they do.
Normally if anything gets affected traffic gets affected first, then the change in the pagerank would show months later when the toolbar snapshot gets goes through.
However, I am wondering if this type of penalty (if it exists) would immediately knock down the PR and shortly there after indexing behavior and the results that show in in Google might be affected.
Up until today Googlebot has been visiting 5000-15000 per day. It might be too early at this point but so far googlebot has visited 129 times today which is way below normal :(
I do find it hard to believe Google would penalize a website soley based on a name change. I am sure there are numerous websites that have name changes with the whois records even though the same entity owns it. Everything going on is probably just a coincidence and something else is to blame. However, just to make sure though I started this thread to see if anybody else has noticed anything changing if they updated their whois records.
Just thought I would give an update on this. I filed a reconsideration request explaining about the changing of my name on the whois records. While I never got a response back my site did go back to PR6 and I have checked on approximately 60 datacenters and it is all showing the same again.
While PR wasn't that important thing to me, I just wanted to make sure there wasn't any penalties on the domain because of the name change as I didn't want traffic to be affected.
So while I am not sure if the reconsideration request was the reason for the fix or not, at this moment all seems back to how it was. I should note that traffic never did get affected by this, only PR for about 2 days. If anything changes I will give an update for anybody else who ever has a similiar issue.