Does Domain Privacy Protection Affect SEO?
As more and more people learn the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) in their online marketing endeavors, more and more myths and rumors emerge. What's the impact on your SEO efforts if your domain name is private as opposed to public? Does that make a difference?
What's WHOIS Data Anyway?
All domain names on the web are listed in a database called WHOIS. Managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), WHOIS serves as an online directory of domains and contains important information like the name of the party that registered the domain name and their contact information, the date it was registered, the date it expires, where its site is hosted and more. A person or group wishing to register a generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) domain name can do so by using any ICANN-accredited registrar.
In the recent years, WHOIS has been a truly invaluable source of information for many parties including law enforcement agencies, security specialists, consumer groups, to name a few.
How is WHOIS Data Accessed After GDPR?
Several tools and services have been available to allow users to access information on domain names. However, since May 2018’s implementation of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), quite a lot has changed in terms of privacy policies at the domain level.
When GDPR took effect, ICANN made a decision to oblige all registries to remove public access to contact names and other domain name registrant data to ensure protection of those registrants under the jurisdiction of GDPR. Even if a user opted out of domain name privacy at the time they registered their domain name, the information was masked when GDPR came into effect.
What's the Impact of Domain Privacy on SEO?
In reality, Google, the internet's largest search engine, doesn't care if your domain's WHOIS data is public or private as long as you aren't violating any of their policies. Even if you have multiple websites and choose to keep your WHOIS data private, much of it already is because of GDPR, which shouldn't pose a problem for your SEO. Keep in mind that Google is a domain registrar itself and because of that, they can access the domain name information of any given website.
Is Domain Privacy Still Needed?
All substantial features of domain privacy, with the exception of the obscure contact email address, are still offered by the WHOIS updates. Those who would find that situation beneficial might consider continuing to pay for domain privacy. Most post-GDPR won't need any domain privacy whatsoever.
Depending on a given person’s or organization’s particular needs, they should evaluate those needs and decide if domain name privacy would still be useful for them. Many have decided or will decide that it's no longer needed and cut the additional costs.