Search Engine Optimization Tip: Check the Whois on Your Domain Name

This is only one SEO tip out of many search engine optimization tips I have been providing over the years. All of my search engine optimization tips are meant to be specific, they should not take too much time to implement, and are meant to be directly to the point.

For this search engine optimization tip, let us talk about the Whois and the data that it contains. Technically speaking, Whois is is a query/response protocol which is widely used for querying an official database in order to determine the owner of a domain name, an IP address, or an autonomous system number on the Internet. When I’m talking about whois from a search engine optimization perspective, I’m talking about who owns your domain name. If you go here to this page you will see the whois domain record for the domain name BillHartzer.com, which looks like this:

Here’s one tip: if you add a domain name to the end of whois.domaintools.com and go to that URL then you will bring up the whois record for that domain name. There’s a lot more data there, but for this search engine optimization tip, let’s look at the whois record.

There are several things that you need to take a look at on the domain name’s whois record. I’ve included each item below and made a quick comment about each of them:

Registrant – This part is important. You (not some other third party like your web designer or web host or your yellow pages company) needs to own your domain name. If you do not own your domain name then your online business could suddenly go away. Your domain name goes with you, even if you change web designers.

Created on – The “create date” can be an important SEO factor in organic search engine rankings. You don’t have too much control over this date, but it’s important that your domain name be at least a few years old. The search engines tend to like older, more established domain names. The older the better. I know you don’t have much control over this, and if you have a brand new domain name there’s a way to get around this, contact me if you would like more information about it.

Expires on – Is your domain name going to expire soon? I would renew your domain name for a while, perhaps a few years. If you renew your domain name for more than a year then that shows more of a commitment to your domain name. That might be a factor in organic search engine rankings. Did you know that you can register your domain for 100 years into the future?

Last Updated on – This is not very important, but generally should be fairly recent.

Administrative Contact – This is who gets the bill for the domain name. Generally this is most likely going to be the same as the Registrant unless you have another division of your company that pays your bills.

Technical Contact – This is the technical contact, the person or company that is behind your web site. Generally this probably should be the same as the Admin and Registrant contacts, but you may have this set up as your web hosting or web design company so they can make changes as necessary. For example, if they need to change the name servers (where your site is hosted) then they would need access. This is how to give them access, which is to list them as the technical contact.

Domain servers in listed order – These are the name servers for your domain name. When someone types in your domain name in their web browser, this is where your web site’s files are located. You have to have at least two listed, and sometimes there are more than two listed if you have a backup of your web site. For SEO purposes, the search engines could potentially look to see if a site is hosted on the same name server that is linking to you: we don’t know for certain if and when this might be the case, but if you want to make sure you get credit for a link then you might want to make sure that that link is not on a site hosted on the same class “C” block of IPs or on the same name server.

Too often I have seen people overlook their whois record: sometimes there are issues that might effect not only their search engine optimization but their whole entire online business. In fact, I recently talk to a neighbor of mine that has a web site: it turns out that he’s paying $300 a month for the web site and he does not even own his domain name! His yellow pages company owns the domain name. This, unfortunately, is a common practice by many web designers and companies who will design and create (and host) a website for your business. They literally “hold you hostage” by not only creating a website for you, they even own your domain name, as well! Don’t fall into that trap.

Take a look at your whois listing for your domain name every so often to make sure that there’s not something that needs to be fixed.