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Is it time to stop using Whois privacy for your domains?

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Those of you unfamiliar with the term, Whois privacy is a service offered by most domain registrars that protects your domain name from people that perform a reverse lookup on your domain name.

It is, essentially, a way to protect your personal information from being available for all to see. Domains with Whois privacy enabled do not reveal the details (like name and contact information) about the registrant — which could be either you, or your business.

Instead the registration information displays the name and contact details of either your domain registrar, or in other cases companies that offer these privacy services like WhoisGuard, WhoisProtect, among others.

Now, wind back the calendar by a few years and you will find that most people recommended usage of a Whois privacy service. Or, you know, registering with a domain registrar that provided these services for free or as value add.

Thing is that this strategy might have worked back then, but using these options now actually reduces your credibility a little — of course, spammers and scammers have the most legitimate reasons to hide their contact information.

But for the regular online marketer? Not so much.

There are some that now opine that search engines and email spam filters take this domain data into consideration. Some even suggest not doing business with an online store that hides Whois information, as that is a sure fire path towards suspicion.

However, for most online marketers, these are risks worth taking.

Not every consumer looks up Whois information before placing an order. And enabling this privacy also affords users that is working from their home peace of mind. Imagine a creepy character showing up on in front of your door, uninvited, just because you do not have the luxury of a physical office building.

Plus, not revealing personal information also helps prevent spam emails and scam calls.

A small level of protection this way is better than having your information publicly available for everyone to see, even if it means some setbacks with newsletter delivery and search engine result pages. At least for the majority of online marketers.

Elaine Chang is our resident SEO geek and expert. She has extensive experience writing about SEO, SEM and all things web.

4 Comments
  • Leonard

    Very interesting. I think I understand using this is if you’re registered as an individual and want to protect your personal information. However, if you’re registered as a business, I think there’s not really a point to protect it because you could lose credibility.

  • Yorker

    I think people should be allowed their privacy. I get the concern nowadays, but if a business or person chooses to remain private, I won’t hold it against them. Thought-provoking read though Elaine. Thanks!

    • Drew J

      I agree, but unfortunately the world we live in does not. Our society is an open book nowadays whether we like it or not. Because of that, I think it is time to stop using whois privacy. Although if it was up to me as an individual, I wouldn’t.

      • Genie

        You’re right Drew. Everyone is expected to be totally public with anything. However, if I had my druthers, I’d be private with my information.

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Find The Traffic Of Any Website With SimilarWeb

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If you have a particular site you are competing with, or just want to find out the traffic of any website or blog, there are a number of online tools that can help.

Most of them work quite differently from one another, in how they calculate the numbers, but solutions like Alexa, Quantcast, TrafficEstimate and even SEQquake provide valuable insights. Now you can add another neat tool to this list — one that goes by the name of SimilarWeb.

In theory, it is impossible to know exactly how much traffic a website gets, as that information is private to the owners of that particular website.

Tools that promises to provide these numbers does so based on their own research, algorithms and estimates. Some even include logs from Internet service providers in their statistics. Point being, you should always take this data with a grain of salt.

They are guesstimates, at best.

But still a good source to find out website traffic and demographic information. SimilarWeb works the same way, and one advantage it provides (against other such tools) is that a fair amount of data is available for free. Other provides charge monthly fees for access to their statistics.

So simply input the URL of a website that you want to gather some insights on, and the tool will give you a brief report about that site, along with their traffic estimates.

The numbers presented are quite close, though obviously not accurate.

Obviously, the bigger a site, the more precise an estimate it will provide. For example, TechCrunch lists on their ‘Advertise with Us’ page that they receive 34 million monthly page views. And sure enough, SimilarWeb provides numbers in this range.

However a lot of smaller sites are not enumerated, understandably.

As it stands, though, this probably is one of the better traffic estimation tool available online, and you can use it to gather some good results and compare how your sites compare with your competitors.

It also works with mobile apps, so give it a try at this link.

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Research and SEO

New Google Penguin Algorithm Update Being Rolled Out

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A new Google Penguin algorithm update is now rolling out. Although it was delayed by a week or so, the search engine giant has already begun the rollout of its latest Penguin update.

The company officially announced this a few weeks back.

In fact, the slow worldwide rollout began this past Friday, with the objective of reducing even more search spam than before. According to the company, webmasters may already have seen an impact already, though the effects are expected to be more noticeable in the coming weeks.

In the words of Pierre Far, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google:

“On Friday last week, we started rolling out a Penguin refresh affecting fewer than 1% of queries in US English search results. This refresh helps sites that have already cleaned up the webspam signals discovered in the previous Penguin iteration, and demotes sites with newly-discovered spam.”

Sounds pretty solid!

Those of you not in the know, Penguin is the codename for Google’s algorithm that decreases search engine rankings of sites that are found to be violating the Webmaster Guidelines that the company has put in place.

It focuses on artificial methods that are employed to increase the ranking of webpages — manipulation, in other words. Google has updated several of its algorithms these past few months, including a number of updates to Panda.

At the same time, the company has been hunting down individual sites and entire networks that it believes are trying to trick the system.

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Research and SEO

Google Starts Displaying Blog Posts In The “In The News” Box

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The “In the News” area is a highly diverse and decidedly vital section of Google search result pages, and the company has just made a very important change to it.

In addition to just regular news sites, the search engine giant has begun showing additional content in this portion. Content like blog posts, Reddit discussions, even videos. This is sure to open up new possibilities for people and businesses.

Sure, only three news pieces are displayed here, related to the topic — and they don’t appear for all search queries. But this is still an area that people take special note of when searching.

As this report notes, content in this box only came from Google News, meaning only some sites got in on the action, those that had approval from Google. But the company now wants to expand on this, and add in more content from a more diversified range of sources.

A bit of a game changer, this, as the search engine giant states:

“We will be pulling from all over the web which means that we will present as diverse a range of voices as possible to ensure we get users to the answers they are looking for. We are always working to give our users the best possible answer to their questions. That might come in the form of a video, a press release, a blog, a photo, a social media post or a news article.”

Powerful, powerful stuff.

Interestingly, this does tie into the recent algorithm update that Google just pushed out last month, where it said that small and medium sites would benefit from added exposure.

Sure looks like that this welcome move is a part of that puzzle.

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