Whois

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What does WHOIS mean?

WHOIS is English and means “Who is?” in German. WHOIS is a protocol that can be used to query information. It therefore provides information about the owner of a domain. Thus, for example checks whether a particular domain is still “free”. This query is freely accessible to everyone and can also be made via the web host. WHOIS is mainly used in distributed database systems. For example the IP addresses for the domains on the Internet.

Purpose of the WHOIS query

Data of the owner and the Admin-C (Administrative Contact) are issued by the WHOIS protocol. The Admin-C is considered the technical supervisor of the website. If there is no legal notice on the website, this is the only way to contact the operator or owner of the site.

Background of WHOIS

Nowadays, there are numerous domain registries, but in the early days of the Internet, only DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) was responsible for this. The more domains emerged over time, the more registrars there were. This increased the misuse of data, e.g. to use the collected email data for spam. WHOIS queries are now subject to very strict rules that must be followed. Special care is taken to ensure that not all data stored by the registrars is freely accessible.

The following background thoughts may lead to an inquiry:

  • There are technical problems with the website.
  • A user wants to buy a domain and therefore needs the right contact person.
  • The site violates all kinds of (data protection) rights.

Contents of the WHOIS data

It depends on the respective registry which data is stored. For example, .de domains are registered by DENIC and .eu domains by EURid. The information usually differs depending on whether the registration is for private or commercial reasons.

In principle, the data contains the information that is stored in the legal notice of the respective website. Such data includes, for example, the name and location. There is also information about the web host, e.g. contact details, as well as information about the domain and who registered it.

Data change

As soon as the WHOIS data changes, such as a telephone number, address or similar, the owner is obliged to notify this data change. This applies to all .de domains. Normally, it is very easy to change the WHOIS data using the customer area of the respective provider.

Options for WHOIS queries

Each registry has its own domain database. As soon as a job, for example runs via a list of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a WHOIS query can be carried out without any problems.

Alternatively, one of the many WHOIS online queries can be used. These include, for example, whois.net, who.is or the query via the web host. For .de domains, the queries can only be called up via DENIC.

What does WHOIS mean for SEO?

WHOIS queries can also be relevant for search engine optimization, especially in the area of link marketing. On the one hand, the information can be used to find out whether a site is reputable and whether there could be a possible collaboration, and on the other hand there is the possibility of exchanging contact details for link exchanges or collaborations.

There are many other options for WHOIS queries in the SEO area:

  • It can be determined whether a domain is still “free”.
  • An IP lookup can be performed. IP address queries are also possible in addition to domain queries. This can be used to determine which site owners or sites want to access your own site. This makes it possible to find out which companies would be eligible for an offer.
  • You can find out how old a domain is, as older domains are generally easier to optimize.
  • WHOIS can also provide information on when certain domains will be available again. These so-called expired domains can then be used for your own projects, as they normally offer good conditions in terms of backlinks and domain trust.

Ranking factor WHOIS

If spam is suspected, search engines such as Google access the data in the WHOIS. This allows the search engine to see whether and how many other websites the website operator has. If an operator owns several websites, it is possible that he has created a network of links through these websites. This artificially optimized PageRank and link popularity. Such networks are not tolerated by the search engines and will be penalized.

Meanwhile, the trust of a website is also playing an increasingly important role for search engines. With regard to the WHOIS query, this means that the contact information on the page should ideally match the information in the query.

Data protection

Only for the purposes listed above, e.g. clarification of technical difficulties or contact for cooperation, a WHOIS query may be carried out. A query is considered illegal as soon as the data is used to send commercial messages en masse.

However, public access to this data is generally compliant with data protection. For example, captcha entries prevent automatic queries. In addition, many web hosts offer WHOIS protection. Although contact details such as e-mail, address or telephone number must be provided, your own data is not published or encrypted when a query is made.

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