Barry Schwartz @ Search Engine Roundtable, raised a very interesting question that caught my attention this evening. A question that I was meaning to ask you all long time back via a Poll.
But later I did some extensive research on this and got my answer. Do I want to share the info with you? Hell yeah!
So here goes -
I tested this on 3 different domains, all with good organic rankings. Domain 1 has a Private Who is enabled, Domain 2 had its Registration info public and lastly Domain 3 was registered under someone else’s name in Godaddy and that person did a free push to my account which resulted in all the registration info to be changed under my name.
I don’t really wish to go into much details here, but based on my analysis I can say with confidence that -
1. Changing Domain Registration Info won’t usually hurt rankings (with all other variables being equal).
My Analysis: If your Domain Registration Address is in “India”, it might help you to rank well in Google.in. However I believe that Google checks this either periodically (long intervals in between) or it is set during the initial discovery of the website. But of course this is not always the case!
Domain Registration Info doesn’t only include Name/Address but it also includes the Registration & Expiry date of the domain name. Domains that are old (and has ZERO backlinks) tends to do well in competitive market and domains that are registered for a longer period of time is also believed to be rank well in the Engines. If someone registers a site for 10 years, it clearly shows how much dedicated that person is to that website…so its less likely to turn out to be a Spam site. (Makes Sense right?)
So if you can do a smooth transfer without the domain being dropped it is less likely to hurt your rankings and it should hold on to it’s old trustrank & pagerank. However If the domain actually drops, then there is a high chance that the any past authority that the domain may have had will be lost.
2. Moving from Private to Public (or vice-versa) doesn’t make any significant increase/decrease in ranking.
My Analysis: Based on the results it was clear that a Private Whois doesn’t have any direct relation to ranking. But if you have been naughty in ‘past’ and continue to show your true character, it won’t take Google’s Web Spam Team much time to track down all your sites (if you don’t have a Private Whois) and penalize them manually.
3. Sometimes your domain’s WHOIS information doesn’t matter
My Analysis: Majority of the cases that I have personally seen, A Domain’s locality was taken directly from a webmaster’s Google account. When you register for a Google account it sort of automatically sets your Timezone & Country based on your IP address. So if you are from Finland and you have added your website in Google Webmaster Tools or Analytics, in no time Google will start to recognize you as a webmaster from Finland and it will give you higher presidence for searches performed in Finland and other nearby locations. So if Google thinks you are from Finland, your US domain registration info won’t save you. Google Webmaster Tools also has a page where you can geo-target your website as well. But I personally haven’t tried that so I’m not sure whether its effective or not.
So in conclusion I’d say that some of these things are still very unclear as different webmasters tend to come up with their own facts & theory. Whatever I stated above is what I could figure out by doing my own set of testings.
So what do you think? Does changing Domain Registration Info has any impact on rankings? Share in comments.