What is Whois?

What does whois mean?

Via a whois (Who’s?) Query, you can obtain information on the owner data of a domain or find out whether the domain is still available. The query can, among other things, take place via a web host and is freely accessible to everyone.

Whois backgrounds

While there are numerous registration authorities for domains today, at the beginning of the Internet age only DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was responsible. With more and more domains, more and more registrars were added, which also increased the misuse of data, for example to use the collected e-mail data for spam. In the meantime, however, strict rules apply to the WHOIS query, so that not all of the data stored by the registrars is accessible.

What is the purpose of the query?

According to biotionary.com, the WHOIS protocol provides you with data on the owner and the Admin-C (Administrative Contact). The Admin-C is the technical maintainer of the website. If there is no legal notice, this is the only way to contact the operator or owner of the site.

The request can be for very different reasons, for example:

  • You want to buy a domain and find the right contact person.
  • You have technical problems with one of the pages.
  • You think the site violates certain rights.

What does the WHOIS data contain?

Which data is stored depends on the respective registration office, e.g. for .de domains from DENIC, for.eu domains from EURid. As a rule, the information also differs depending on whether the registration was made for commercial or private reasons.

The data basically contain the information from the imprint of the associated website, i.e. information such as name and location. You will also receive information about the web host, the name or contact details of the technical contact person and data on when the domain was registered by whom.

How does the query work?

Each registry has its own domain database. You can make the query via the respective offices, which can be found, for example, via a list of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

The alternative: You use one of the numerous WHOIS online queries, such as who.is or whois.net or the query options at web hosts. However, the data for .de domains can only be called up via DENIC.

What does Whois do for SEO?

The data of a WHOIS query can also be relevant for search engine optimization, especially in link marketing. Here, on the one hand, contact details for collaborations or link exchange can be collected, on the other hand, the information serves to find out whether the site or the owner is reputable and thus a collaboration is possible. In the course of link marketing, it also makes sense to use WHOIS to check whether the page owner owns other domains in order to prevent the page desired for cooperation from belonging to a link network.

Other ways to use the WHOIS query for SEO:

  • Determine the age of a domain – older domains are usually easier to optimize
  • determine whether a domain is still available
  • Expired Domains: WHOIS provides information about when these domains are available again. These can be used for your own projects because they usually have good conditions in terms of backlinks and domain trust.
  • IP lookup: In addition to querying a domain, it is also possible to query IP addresses. This enables you to determine which pages or page owners are accessing your own pages and consequently find out which companies are interested in you and your offer.

Whois as a ranking factor

Search engines like Google use the data in the whois if they suspect spam. Here, Google can see whether a website operator owns many websites. If this is the case, it may be that this website has created a network of links, which artificially improves link popularity and PageRank. Such networks are always penalized by Google.

In addition, the trust of the site is playing an increasingly important role for Google. In relation to the WHOIS query, this means that the information in the query should match the contact information on the page.

Further information on ranking factors: Searchmetrics study

Data protection at WHOIS

A Whois query may only be used for the purposes mentioned above, such as establishing contact for a cooperation or for clarifying technical difficulties. It is illegal to use the data to send commercial messages on a massive scale.

Overall, however, public access to this data is compliant with data protection. Automatic queries are prevented, for example, by entering a Captcha. Many web hosts also offer WHOIS protection. Here you have to enter contact details such as address or e-mail, but they will not be published or encrypted when requested.

Change whois data

Should your address, telephone number or other WHOIS data change, you are obliged to notify this change of data in the case of a.de domain. This can usually be done very easily via the provider’s customer area.

What is Whois