If you’ve ever set up a website or blog, then you’ve probably had to register a domain (unless you build it with Blogger, WordPress.org, or some other free option, at which I may discuss why this is not a good idea in a future article). During the registration process and various email solicitations afterwards, you were probably shown something called “Domain Privacy”? So what is this and is it worth it?
As to the first question, it maybe best to start with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). This non-profit organization oversees policies and maintenance of the ip addresses and namespaces for the internet (ever wonder where the .com, .net, .edu, .gov, and others “dots” are managed). If you’d like a more detailed explanation, read their Beginner’s Guide. Anytime you register a domain name (kazcm.com), it is recorded by ICANN and is freely available for lookup on WHOIS. As they simply state on their homepage, WHOIS gives anybody the ability to lookup a domain name to discover the registered domain owner. Before going any further, I’d recommend experimenting with a few url addresses on WHOIS. Try Amazon.com, Microsoft.com, Apple.com. As you’ll notice, besides the name of the owner, the results also show the owner’s address, phone #, email address, and other information.
So is domain privacy worth it? After seeing all of your information displayed on WHOIS, many of you may be answering with a resounding “yes,” but it isn’t really that simple. The problem with the privacy is that there are some arguments that it can knock your SEO slightly, plus transparency equals trust for many people. If your blog or website is for a business or non-profit, the domain privacy feature can make it seem like you’re hiding something.
In the end, it really comes down to a personal decision whether privacy trumps transparency/SEO. If you lookup any company with a huge internet presence (Amazon, Ford, Microsoft, Apple, etc), not a single one has privacy enabled. If you want security for yourself or your company, it comes down to secure passwords, changing your domain login url (WordPress platforms should change the default “wp-admin” to something else) and not being tricked by fake email solicitations from unknown 3rd parties.
In the long run, the $8 and up that the domain registrar charges for domain privacy is almost 100% profit for providing a false sense of security.