Can WHOis Data Impact SEO?

Today’s question does not get asked enough. Perhaps that is because it seems straightforward to many experienced SEOs (although nothing in the field of SEO is ever as straight forward as it seems).

But to business owners, the answer to this one seemingly simple question could have a huge impact on your SEO, rankings, traffic and ultimately revenue.

I say the question doesn’t get asked enough because when I searched on Google, Moz’s SEO Forum, and Business2Community – I found almost no advice on whether or not WHOis (Whois pronounced Who – is) information impacts SEO as a ranking factor.

Seriously. Even quickly searching Moz, one of the main authorities on SEO, only produced one result, a three year old community forum post about the topic. Here is the question the forum post asks:

“Is WHOIS-info a ranking factor?”

And as you can see, there are multiple replies in agreement, including the second reply which comes from a marketing director who says,

“I don’t think that the who-is information has a direct effect as such.”


I know from personal experience how Whois data can drastically and directly impact your SEO rankings.

When you’re rocking over 3K pageviews everyday from organic search traffic and you see an overnight downward spike like this:

DNS impacting SEO Screenshot traffic drop

Your business stops, along with your heart.

I know this, because that screenshot is from one of my very successful affiliate marketing sites.

But don’t worry. You will be happy you read this article because I will show you how to get your traffic back instantly and it will only take you 5 minutes.

See, my site got right back to crushing it the day after I fixed the Whois problem.

DNS impacting SEO Screenshot

Who This Article is For

Ok folks, here is a list of who will get the most benefit from this article:

  • Webmasters
  • Business owners with a website (especially local or brick and mortar businesses)
  • Ecommerce store owners
  • Affiliate marketers
  • SEO consultants
  • Bloggers
  • Web Designers / Developers
  • Anyone who gets organic search traffic to their website

If you aren’t one of the above, but you have a website, this could still apply to you. Basically, this article is going to help anyone who operates a website that receives organic search traffic from Google.

If you own some landing pages and all you do is send paid traffic to them, then this article won’t help you. If you own a site with little or thin content that doesn’t rank in organic search and bring you much traffic, this article won’t help you.

Ok, so without further ado, lets dive in and learn a bit more about WHOis data and how it can impact your SEO rankings.

Whois Data – A Google Trust Factor

What is Whois data? Simply put, Whois data shows Google, along with anyone who queries the Whois Database, the website owner’s contact information for any registered domain on the web.

Google takes note of this information for a few reasons, and I’m not going to address them all today. All of the reasons that Google cares about your Whois data have to do with trusting you and your website as a legit source of information.

Today, I’m just going to address one common Whois issue that people will have and how to fix it. That is, your Whois Privacy Settings with your domain registrar.

Whois Privacy Settings

I use Namecheap for most of my domain registering but I also use GoDaddy and a few other domain registrars. My lesson today will apply to any and all domain registrars.

When you register a domain, in your domain registrar’s account you will have Whois or domain privacy settings. You basically have 2 options:

  1. Enter your contact information as the owner of the domain.
    • This allows anyone to look you up as the owner of
    • It provides them with whatever contact info you list
  2. Or, you can choose to protect your info and use privacy settings
    • This uses private information provided by your domain registrar instead of your personal contact information
    • People may choose to protect their info for a number of reasons. For example to avoid telemarketers, or because they have a site about a ‘shady’ topic such as porn for example, and they don’t want their information tied to it.

Now there is a debate online about whether or not using private information sends a low trust signal to Google, thus lowering your rankings. I’m not going to address this debate today.

I’m going to address those who want to use Whois privacy and what they need to double check to make sure their rankings don’t tank like mine did.

Whois Physical Address

This is the big kicker. My website you see in the screenshot at the beginning of this article is a national website.

The site ranks for location based terms across the United States, things like “New York keyword” or “Texas keyword” “keyword in san diego” etc..

I decided to transfer the domain to a new domain registrar as I was closing my account with the previous registrar. When I made the transfer, the new registrar automatically applied Whois privacy settings to my domain, without any notification to me.

This effectively removed my contact info and replaced it with the domain registrar’s private info. When people look up my URL in Whois it showed my registrar’s name, address, and phone number.

This may not seem like a big deal. Afterall, I don’t need to be contacted directly through this particular website, plus I hate telemarketers even though I’ve done my time as a phone sales-man (Don’t hate lol).

Well, when I went to check on my baby after the transfer and saw that my typical 3K plus daily page views were down to a couple hundred – I flipped.

Instincts told me that it had to do with the transfer, so I immediately logged into the new registrar and poured over the domain settings. I also was searching the web and finding very little about my particular issue, in fact nothing on the topic.

It turns out I found the problem quickly and took action. Do you see the problem?

Whois guard international address

That is a screenshot of the WhoisGuard privacy settings for my domain. Remember how I said it ranked for U.S. search terms? Find the issue yet?

Whois guard international address highlighted

The Whois privacy settings, that the registrar automatically enabled during the domain transfer, were using an address in Panama!

And that regional mismatch between my website audience’s location and my Whois physical address literally told Google, instantly, that my domain was no longer the same trusted source of information on a topic specific to the United States.

Prior to this one change Google loved this site, ranking it for approximately 20,000 search terms and sending 120K page views monthly. Over night, all of these rankings and traffic vanished.

Applying This To Your Website

So, if your website is serving a region such as a local business serving a city, or a national brand serving a country, then you will want to follow these quick steps to confirm your Whois data is not impacting your SEO efforts.

Testing to see if your Whois data is impacting your SEO rankings for your website is simple.

  1. Go to:
  2. Enter your website URL
  3. It will return the Whois contact info you have listed for your domain

If the contact info, primarily the physical address, reflected is your accurate personal information, then you’re good to go (as long as you live in the same region that your website serves)

If the info reflected shows an address in a different region from where your website serves, then continue following these steps

  1. Log into your domain registrar (Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc)
  2. Find your domain and go to domain settings
  3. You will see Whois Guard or Whois Privacy Settings
  4. This typically offers a toggle of “On” or “Off” switch it to off
  5. Then enter your correct contact info in the text boxes provided and submit to update your Whois data

That is it! This should just take you about 5 minutes and is definitely worth checking at any of the following times:

  • If you transfer a domain to a new host/registrar, double check your Whois settings
  • If you’ve never checked, double check your Whois settings
  • If your traffic drops substantially almost instantly, check your Whois settings
  • If you’ve been trying to rank a website for organic traffic targeting regional search terms for a while without results, check your Whois settings (Ie: city + keyword searches like “new york real estate”)
  • If you’ve been trying to rank a website for any keywords in front of a specific regional audience (Ie: any keyword search performed by searches in a specific region such as “red shoes” searched specifically by U.S. based consumers)

Note that it could take the web (Google, Whois, etc) about 24 hours to acknowledge your updated Whois settings. So just relax and check Whois after 24 hours until the changes have gone through, and if for some reason they don’t within 24 hours, then let your domain registrar know about the issue.


Alright folks, I really hope this article sheds some light on how Whois information and privacy settings may impact your SEO and organic search rankings. The example I shared today should only impact regional search terms.

In short, you need to remember that the address you input for your Whois contact info needs to be in the same general region that your website serves. If you are a local brick and mortar business then your address you should match the city you serve, if you are a national brand, or targeting consumers in a specific country/region, then you just need to have an address in the country, or region, you serve.

Finally, double check your domain settings with your domain registrar to make sure that Whois Guard or Whois Privacy settings are not turned on and using an address out of your region for your Whois contact info.

Now go check your Whois settings! And of course, best of luck with your SEO efforts!

Please leave a comment if you have any experience with Whois data impacting your SEO. I’d love to know some other people’s situations and how they dealt with them.