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What Google knows about your domain name

There's a lot of speculation about the information that Google has about domain names. Last year, Google became a domain name registrar but they haven't offered domain registration services in the meantime.

There must be another reason why Google decided to become a registrar. What does Google know about your domain name and what do they not know?

Why did Google become a domain registrar?

It seems that Google doesn't intent to buy or sell domain names. It's much more likely that Google wanted to have greater access to domain information.

As a registrar, Google has access to the APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) of other registrars. While Google doesn't have access to the customer records of VeriSign or other registrars, they can now easily query their WHOIS records.

What can Google do with that information?

Google probably wants to analyze domain names. By regularly checking the WHOIS information of a web site, Google can track the history of a domain name.

That allows Google to find relations between different domains names and changes in ownership. If a domain name has a new owner, Google might reconsider the value of the domain name in the ranking algorithm.

Some people buy old domain names to avoid the Google sandbox effect and to benefit from existing links. If Google can detect the ownership change of a domain name, it might become more difficult to benefit from old domain names.

What can Google not do?

Google cannot access the customer information of other registrars. They only have access to the same information that you get when you use a public WHOIS service.

That means that Google cannot access your data if you use the domain privacy services that some registrars offer. However, this could also lead to problems.

If you hide too much information about your domain name, your domain name could be flagged in Google's ranking algorithm and Google's trust in your domain name might be reduced.

It's difficult to tell what Google really does with the domain data. It's probably best not to try to cheat Google with domain purchases just for SEO purposes. Concentrate on your main web site and optimize the content of your pages to get high search engine rankings.

Building a web site with good content and good inbound links takes longer than buying an old domain name. However, you can be sure that this method won't trigger any domain spam filters.

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May 2006 search engine articles