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Is Whois Data A Ranking Factor?

 5:08 am on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was wondering if whois data is applied as a ranking factor in any way at all? For better or worse?



 5:55 am on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

It was mentioned in the Historical Data patent [webmasterworld.com] as one very small possibility. As one of the members in that thread also says about the patent "it seems it mainly is a list of everything which *COULD* be implemented one day."

The only way I think it can do very much in a negative way is if you use the same public whois for a spam site as an above board site site. In that case, once the spam site gets busted, the money site's rankings could also suffer by connection. I can't imagine anyone sane actually doing that - but you never know.

So (and I'm guessing here) by reverse analogy, the same whois on both a highly trusted domain and a new domain might give the new domain a jump start in the trust department.


 2:10 pm on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

For human reviews (EWOQ), there are instructions for google reviewers to scope out suspect 301s by doing comparative whois searches. If the source and the destination whois are the same, apparently that is a good thing in google's eyes as this means the owner simple moved the moved the site. If you 301 to a site with a different whois, apparently that is a very bad thing.

In general, however I suspect similar whois records are not a good thing when it comes to link building (I have no proof of this), but suspect lack of whois diversity to be as bad as lack of c-class, NS, and anchor text diversty when it comes to backlinks.

The thing to know is that google is technically a registrar so they have access to the registrar apis that allow for high volume automated lookups. Whether they can get past private whois, I don't think so, but don't know.

Google (well Matt Cutts) is on record as stating they REALLY don't like fake whois records, which may suggest whois is a strong component in determining search quality, a major tool for google's anti-spam team and perhaps an important factor in google localization (google likes to see locals linking to locals...and that type of info can be parsed/guessed from whois).

Lastly, it is widely suspected that domain age, longevity of ownership, and registration length (google has a patent on this) are factors as well and this is all obtained from whois.

For more dicussion on google's leaked '2011 Google Quality Raters Handbook' and EWOQ see here:



 4:18 pm on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

If they did use whois data, then what would stop anyone harming a competitor by registering a few sites with identical data of a competitor and then developing some poor quality sites, thus damaging the competitor site?

I was always under the impression that no outsider could directly harm your site with links from poor quality sites, so if Google did use whois data, then technically a site could be harmed from outside interference!


 4:42 pm on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have never seen any evidence, or even any type of loose correlation, that would suggest Who Is information factors into ranking.

However, and I know many will have strong opposing opinions on this, but false, or "protected" Who Is information is not a very strong signal of quality to a human being. (the anti-spam "reasoning" is easily worked around).

If you can't attach your name to it .......


 4:54 pm on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you can't attach your name to it .......

then maybe its because you don't need some nutter turning up at your door and menacing, or worse, your family because you were "impolite" in what you wrote or drew and put on your site etc .. ( in their eyes a *sin*..and the "sky fairy nutters" are everywhere..all of them with their own "brand" ) about their particular "brand" of "sky fairy"..

..or worse.. you don't need someone's state "clean up ( "kill or injure" ) the dissidents or those who say embarrassing things or make us look ridiculous " team..knowing your name and address ..

It isn't just scammers who use "privacy"..nearly all my domains ( well into 4 figures ) have "privacy" and they have had since the first day of their registration..

re the OP ..no ..I have many #1s and page 1s for highly competitive terms with domains that have always had privacy on them..and IME it doesn't stop humans from contacting , purchasing, linking to me, or "whatever" either..


 6:56 pm on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Owners of websites that take positions on controversial social or political issues sometimes get hate mail or even threats. Many of these owners have privacy protection for greater security. It would be wrong for Google to use this as a ranking factor.


 4:58 am on Oct 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Regarding domain privacy protection and those EWOQ reviewers looking for an ownership-based connection between sites: I suspect that they may not have access to the un-protected WHOIS (and I hope that they don't) and so hundreds of thousands of sites, many of them very bad, would have the same administrative, technical, billing and registrar contact information - same name, same address, phone number, fax.

Just the email will be different but even then it will all be on the same domain, such as @whoisguard.com for example.

I've browsed through the infamous review guidelines and found nothing that would explain a newly minted EWOQer how to "decipher" the info they can get from Whois. No mentioning of domain privacy protection, Nothing said about how to get reliable whois info either. Are we supposed to trust that EWOQers are domain owners themselves or at least understand what domain privacy protection is and how it operates?

I mean, this all sounds basic to anyone reading this forum but if EWOQ draws its labor from the same pool call center operators do, we're all in trouble.


 7:00 pm on Oct 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ive often wondered this. In thinking of this problem - I also wondered what good hiding whois does aswell. I came to the conclusion that a lot of interlinking domains with hidden whois info also has a potential threshold for breaching and causing a flag to be raised.

Right or wrong - I avoid linking domains with the same whois.

Can someone tell me what EWOQ is?


 11:07 pm on Oct 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

EWOQ is Google's acronym for their human editorial evaluation system.


Here is some of the exact wording from Google's 2005 Historical Data patent:

[0099]... Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain.


 6:47 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

There's no way that whois privacy will keep anything private. To believe that is just hiding behind a see through plastic screen.

As far as it being a ranking factor then I don't see what impact it could have other than Tedster's observations.

If I have two or more related sites then I link (not over-link) between them. I think Google would expect that and not penalise it.


 6:57 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

There's no way that whois privacy will keep anything private.



 11:15 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

thanks Tedster.

I think whois privacy would keep things private aswell - unless the registrar were selling it? Extremely unlikely.
Still leaves me with that bad feeling about interlinking too many private doms though. Especially from the same registrar.


 11:52 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

If domain holders are investing in their sites with good quality content , usability, inbound links the WHOIS is probably one of the more minor considerations. I can't seriously see a site outranking another purely on it's WHOIS reputation. I can see a spammer WHOIS being flagged -if they leave enought traces.

Spamming techniques which grow out of the above mentioned patent's objective are likely to be picked up fairly quickly I'd say. Either reported, editorially or algorithmically picked up.


 4:21 am on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Still leaves me with that bad feeling about interlinking too many private doms though. Especially from the same registrar.

I'd say you're right. It's not a good idea to interlink, say 100 domains and probably not even 30. (It's probably not even a good idea to try to operate 100 domains.) That kind of interlinking is going to stand out in Google's back end analysis tools like a flashing red beacon that says "I'm trying to boost my rankings."

If interlinking is only 1% of each site's total link profile, then you may have something that will pass the sniff test. But then you wouldn't even think twice about it, you'd just interlink when it makes sense for the visitor.


 6:08 am on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts, according to a previous post on this board, apparently did a demo at a conference when he personally did a whois lookup to bust a link farm. They have the technology. I suspect, however, it's more likely used in human reviews and rare cases. Still, each year that passes, I am more reluctant to link to any of my other sites. Note that the Adsense code signal is a stronger signal of domain ownership and uses no additional resources. Google already got the code when it crawled your sites (for those who use Adsense).

Domain registration length as a signal of quality, legitimacy, or authority is a very weak signal. It's too easy and cheap to add years. Besides, Google staff have dismissed its value.


"To the best of my knowledge, no search engine has ever confirmed that they use length-of-registration as a factor in scoring. If a company is asserting that as a fact, that would be troubling."

Source: [goldsteinmedia.com...]


 1:35 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google does have a patent on document inception date which is pretty similar to domain age.


They also have patents on a number of other domain related variables:


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