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January 10, 2017

Does a Private or Public WhoIs affect SEO & Email Deliverability?

Author | Andrew Curtin

Does a Private or Public WhoIs affect SEO & Email Deliverability

Does a Private or Public WhoIs affect SEO & Email Deliverability? A debated topic around the web is the importance of setting your WhoIS record private or public. While there are proponents on both sides, we wanted to shed a little light on this topic.

  1. What Is a WhoIs?
  2. What is a Private Website?
  3. Does a WhoIs record affect Email Deliverability?
  4. Does a WhoIS record affect SEO?
  5. Conclusion

What’s a WhoIS?

A WhoIS record is an online record of who owns a domain. Each year millions of new domains are registered to companies and individuals, and without a database of who owns these domains, it would be impossible to keep track of them all. These WhoIS records are housed in publicly accessible ICANN certified databases and contain information such as domain owner, company address, contact phone number, email address, etc. This allows anyone to search and find the owner of a website if necessary. Try it out yourself by heading over to Godaddy’s WhoIS checker and entering your favorite company’s URL. For more information regarding ICANN and WhoIS you can visit ICANN’s website for an in-depth overview.

What’s a private website?

A private website, in regards to WhoIS, is one where the registrar’s information has been made private by hiding/concealing the real contact information in the WhoIS record. Often, this is done to prevent spam calls or emails. Accordingly, most registrars sell WhoIS privacy which replaces the name, phone number, and email with their own information. If you need your website’s WhoIs record to be private it’s highly recommended to use a third party service rather than putting in fake or inaccurate information. The email address, phone number, and address need to be verifiably real.

Does a Private WhoIS affect Email Deliverability?

Email deliverability is determined by many factors and your site’s reputation is one of the most important. (For a more in-depth explanation of email deliverability please visit our Email Deliverability blog.) While ISP’s all have different delivery algorithms, Google has admitted that it considers the WhoIS record when delivering emails. Accordingly, Google will penalize your trust ranking if your WhoIs record is missing or is private, thus impacting your email’s deliverability. With Gmail being the #2 email provider in the world you can see the importance of keeping your trust rank up at Google.

Does a Private WhoIS impact SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is important to modern marketing tactics. Frequently, the term SEO is thrown around in reference to your actual search rankings with the focus being better SEO = better rankings. While SEO, SERPS (search engine results page), and SEM (search engine marketing) oriented techniques aren’t always simple, we always encourage best practices. For more information related to SEO check out this extensive guide from SearchEngineLand.

We know that Google cares a lot about a sites trustworthiness and will factor it in when ranking your website in the SERPs. For Google, having a private or inaccurate WhoIS is seen as a negative trust indicator. A public WhoIS is a good first indicator to Google that you are a legitimate business.

Below is an image from a case study where a business was penalized for having a private WhoIS, but was able to recover when the WhoIS was made public.


Search engines and ISP’s are getting better at identifying trustworthy sources; therefore, it’s very important to make sure that your WhoIS is made public and is accurate. A private/inaccurate WhoIs can hurt both your email deliverability and SEO.

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