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Google and WHOIS info

Anyone else seeing this?

     
7:45 am on Jun 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've noticed that all my sites have been dropped roughly the same amount in the SERPs after the update.
All 7 sites are on different c-class IP's and have no duplicate content, different incoming links, no inter-linking at all, etc...The ONLY thing they have in common is WHOIS INFO. These sites are in the same broad industry, but absolutely 100% unique and the only thing tying them together is WHOIS. The fact they they ALL dropped roughly the same number (nearly identical in some cases) it leads me to believe if you run multiple sites w/same WHOIS, G might put some sort of filter/dampner on your sites.

Of course this is anecdotal evidence, but I think it is quite strong nonetheless.

The sites were relatively young and not TOO much work has been put into them yet, so if they don't come back soon i'll just start over.

Do most people who run multiple sites in same broad industry here use false WHOIS info? Could this simple 2 minute fix after I buy a domain be preventative for this sort of drop with future sites I build? Any downfalls to false whois info? Or changing whois info?

Thanks so much!

3:38 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Using fake Whois Info is illegal (at least I think so). But using your real friend's data for a Whois listing IMO is not wrong, IF he is aware of it.

Google is certainly using the Whois Info in order to find relationships between site networks; that's the main reason they became Registrars anyway.

If your sites were using white-hat SEO without heavy interlinking (!), there is no reason for Google to drop them. If not, then I suggest that have enough patience or start over.

I wish you best of luck.
Aris

3:46 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If the sites are really important to you, then register each one of them as a business. In some instances you can even have one company name, and then have company name aliases. You can also setup virtual mailboxes or just a p.o. box for each one of them. This way you retain ownership and have different whois data.
3:56 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone know if changing/updating your whois info will be viewed be google, and seen badly and possibly 'penalized' 'sandboxed' or somethign along those lines?

I have some old whois info to update but am now paranoid and am afraid my sites will suffer .

4:26 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If they are penalizing for updating your whois, then they won't be around long.
4:44 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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There are a couple of services out there that will register your domains in their name and thus protect your personal info from Google or anyone else. The whois data will just show their info and Google will not be able to make a connection between your domains.
5:00 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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When I register my domains I HAVE to use my Credit Card Name and address. Then once I purchase the domain I can go in and change things BEFORE Google/Yahoo index my site. BUT, I know my original info is still stored in a database and I am wondering if Google will be looking at original info or just the superficial whois. Anyone?
5:51 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Nobody will be able see any of the billing info you used when you bought the domain. The only thing that anyone will be able to see is the publicly available whois info which will be a third party's info if you use one of the domain proxy services.
5:53 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Ok. Well my Host offers me a free unique c-class IP if I register my domains through them, but they don't do any proxy or non-public domains.

So my only option is to change the WHOIS BEFORE G/Yahoo crawl my page yes? You think I would be safe with this route?

5:54 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If the sites aren't interlinked, what is the purpose of hiding the Whois?
5:58 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Well, I hid my site WHOIS to avoid spammers from obtaining my mail info, phone number and email. I'm not sure if this is the reason why Google demoted my site.
6:00 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I prefer to be safe. We know Google/Yahoo use WHOIS info...we just don't know to what extent exactly. For all we know they could identify commonly owned sites and if they are in the same industry they might put a dampner/penalty filter on the sites.

So basically my question is whether or not just changing my WHOIS b4 G/Yahoo come around will do.

6:21 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Could it be that all your sites dropped in SERP because of some algo changes that Google may have recently applied to that industry's search space?

Even though it may be tempting to suspect/believe that they may have indeed done something evil like that, it is more probable, imho, that you may have some commonality in your collections of sites (structure, templates, SEO style, inbound/outbound link partners, etc.) that may have made them "equal opportunity whacking candidates" as a result of any new algo tweaks that G may have applied recently.

I am not saying this to dismiss/question your hypothesis. I am only suggesting that you may also want to look for any (non-obvious) commonalities that you may be able to remedy on your own.

6:32 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If you really want to go this route I would suggest that you don't buy your domains through your hosting provider but go through one of the registrars that offer proxy domain services. I'll bet it will be cheaper as well.
6:33 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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bose, I absolutely agree. This is the only commonality that I could identify. But undoubtedly what you mention is a distinct possibility of G's last update.

Regardless, I would like an answer to my original question of whether or not changing my WHOIS before being crawled is sufficient to hide true ownership from engines.

6:47 pm on June 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Well, nobody knows for sure if Google is even using whois data at the moment, although many, me included, think that they could be.

If we are talking about a new domain registration that had third party whois info in it from day one, then you would be protected. If we are talking about an existing domain that you changed to third party registration, who knows. Assuming that Google is using this data, they could keep a cached copy of the original whois info. All wild speculation of course.

Unless you are doing something high risk like cloaking, I don't think you need to be that paranoid about it.

9:15 am on June 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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alphacooler,

Only 7 sites with same whois won't make your sites drop for sure, IMO.

They just rank weaker due to "The sites were relatively young and not TOO much work has been put into them yet..."

Starting things all over again is simply a waste of time. It is better to hang on and work more on them.

9:37 am on June 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This (whois data) is the only commonality that I could identify.

Aren't your own specific SEO skills a common factor as well?

Without seeing the sites in question it's hard to say anything for sure, so please excuse the wild and unjustified speculation, but I would guess that a broad based drop in ranking over 7 different sites isn't going to be down to one single factor.

It's more likely that a combination of many SEO techniques you have used need redefining - rate of link growth, variation in link text, keyword density, etc - a minor tweak here and there could cause a shift in rankings (particularly if you are using the same "formula" for all sites).

Bourbon saw many "innocent" sites fall in ranking (or drop out completely), and GoogleGuy did say more than one factor was being tweaked this update - so it's not unreasonable to assume that what a SEO could "get away" with before will now be a little too much.

Sorry to say it, but the most common factor in your sites all dropping in ranking is you. You have more influence over your sites than any other factor.

The next most common factor is not the WHOIS, but the industry itself - your sites are all in the same broad industry - there could be a few reasons for a shift in ranking - increase in competition, new sites (previously sandboxed) being added to the index, etc etc etc.

Slightly offtopic and more of a general point, but these days you need to do more to be "white hat" than just have "unique content" and "no interlinking".

MG

10:16 am on June 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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a website of mine as been dropped from google index on June 11th.
My company develope 3,4 websites/month and all have the same registration infos.
The website dropped was born just 2 weekes before, and achieved good results (about 150 visits/day from google).
Now googlebot don't visits the website anymore and writing to google I've had the usual standard reply.

I use to create more websites in the same industry and interlink them a bit, all websites have unique contents... BTW who know what happens nowaday! :)

11:36 am on June 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Could this simple 2 minute fix after I buy a domain be preventative for this sort of drop with future sites I build?

No, correct who is information can never be the problem. The issue rests with the sites. Something has caused a dip in your rankings; could be content, links or an algorithmic change.

Now false who is information is a different story.

Eazzy

10:41 am on June 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone considered the idea that google is using more subtle methods to determine multiple sites under common ownership?

A classic example could be the new sitemap feature - adding multiple sitemaps for different domains using a single account may trigger google to investigate further. They may also monitor the url removal tool to see if a single user is removing URLs from multiple domains. I guess they could also monitor the IPs, just in case someone sets up multiple accounts.

I guess this would be easier than trawling through the whois database to try and find multiple sites under common ownership.

Has anyone else considered this possibility, or are we just getting too paranoid?

11:13 am on June 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Even less paranoid alternative...

You build three sites, apart from the WHOIS data, is it possible they all have a common signature style? Not that Google is using this to identify you, it's just that your style drifted out of favour with Google's algo?

Suggy