Stop Using WHOIS Privacy and 3 Other Strategies For Increasing Your Website’s Credibility

Domain NameThis article will show you some simple steps you can take to increase the credibility of your site with a very low amount of effort. Today I came across this fantastic article by Daniel Scocco:

Time to Stop Using Whois Privacy?

His article inspired me to write about this topic and to extend his thinking a bit beyond Private Registrations.

Scocco’s argument is that using private registration on your domain names leads to less trust. This is 100% true but here’s another big reason not to use Private Registration if you ever plan to install an extended verification SSL certificate on your site you’ll have to remove the privacy registration settings (and trust me, that can be a pain in the butt).

One of the reasons privacy exists is that whois records are public and you don’t necessarily want your personal information out hanging in the wind when don’t use private registration. Since private registrations are no good for business sites I recommend that you create a special email address or email address alias for your domain name registrations (so that your main email address doesn’t get hit with spam) and that you don’t use your home address (so people don’t show up at your doorstep). If you don’t have a business address, go down to your post office and get a PO Box — you don’t necessarily need to use “PO Box” nomenclature on your address, just enter the street address of your post office then have your box number appear as the suite number.

Some other practices that will help to get you more credibility with Google, other services and your audience would be to do the exact opposite of what the spammers would do, right? So here are a few tips for you when registering your domain names and setting up your website:

  1. Don’t use private registration — yeah, we’ve already talked about this.
  2. Register your domain name for longer than the 1 year minimum — I’m not sure I’ve noticed extreme benefits from this one but I feel like it gives you a sense of permanence and credibility.
  3. Use a unique IP address for your website — if you’re going to be using SSL on your site then you’ll need to do this anyway. You can still be on a shared or virtual server — just see if your web host can make this happen for you if you don’t already know how to do this.
  4. Get a custom graphic design or a customize an existing template — Okay, I’m a bit of a hypocrite here since the graphics on my site suck — but I’m working on it! 🙂 Web spammers would never spend the money to roll out their own custom graphics — it would be too expensive for them. And yes, you can get a graphic designer to create custom graphics for you if you’re using a theme framework like the one I use — Thesis.

Every little bit of credibility counts and so even if any of these suggestions don’t give you huge benefits immediately you should still adhere to them because they’ll pay off over time. The less you look like a web spammer and the more credibility you have with Google and your audience the better 🙂 …


  1. Interesting perspective. I bought into the PRIVATE domain registration model only because I hadn’t thought of getting a PO Box. Cheaper than PRIVATE DOMAIN registrations across 30+ domains, no? Thanks for this blog post.

    • Blair Williams says:

      I think I’m spending $30 / year on my PO Box — so yeah, at GoDaddy you’d have to be using more than 6 domain names (I’m at about 60 domain names though) before it would be monetarily worth while … but if you’re actually planning on making money on your website then the $30 investment is one you should make whether its cheaper or not.

      I still have several domain names that are still private — but as they come up for renewal I’m getting rid of the privacy on them.

  2. Yes, your outlandishly bad graphics is why I don’t read your blog. Wait, I think I just got caught reading it 😉

    Good post, these are all excellent tips!

    • Blair Williams says:

      Hmm… that’s odd, these trolls are usually caught by my comment spam filter… 🙂

      Kevin — I’M WORKING ON IT ALREADY!!!! Gees … cut me some slack 🙂 …

  3. I was sold on the private domain thing too. I love your suggestion about using a P.O. Box as an address. I already planned on changing over the contact email information. Do you think the location of the P.O. Box matters?

    Thanks again for the tips.

    • Blair Williams says:

      On the global Internet, only a small percentage of people will know anything about the prestige of one location over another for your specific city … so I’d say it doesn’t matter — just as long as it doesn’t appear to be a PO Box number.

  4. Lydia Groove says:

    Some of us are still trying to hold down the day job to pay the bills and worry about the employer finding ouy. In the UK it is possible to check the proper owner’s name and address of any PO box.

  5. I’ve used the variation “Box XXX” for years with no trouble. It looks like a rural address. I’m with 1&1 now because they provide free privacy on domains and I just don’t want the junk mail. Used to be with GoDaddy but I got tired of the slutty ads. People ought to have a p.o. box these days anyway. Get the smallest size, it’s cheap, open 24/7, and keeps the weirdos and junk mail away from you and stops identity thieves from grabbing your mail before you get home.

  6. Good points. Funny, I have a PO for my biz and I never really thought of doing this. It’d be nice to save the money on each registration anyway and use it to register for a 2nd year.

    99designs or Elance are probably a good source to get custom graphics and logos if you don’t know where to start. I’m considering this for an upcoming project. Most efforts at piecing together stock photos usually look like pieced together stock photos. 🙂

    Thanks for posting!

  7. thanks Blair. Anyway, I still use Privacy Protect due of spamming activities problem.. Your suggestion to use special email to monitor any domain is one of the way that I’ll use soon.. thanks again 🙂

  8. Thansk Blair, I wish I would have had this ealier, as I went with the individual IP Adress and secure SSL on my other site, and yes it was a real Pain!!

  9. Got any data support this? Has anyone run a test of public vs private domain registrations to see exactly how they compare?

  10. I’ll put my support behind the dedicated IP strategy.
    Spend a few extra dollars, have your own IP to play in, because as much as some may say that sharing an IP with a less desirable site not affect credibility (or ranking), why would you one even want to test this theory?

  11. So that is how those spammers know I need viagra… ermmm I mean know how to find me!

    First things first, define your business model before implementing anything!

  12. There is no reason at all not to have a privately registered domain, regardless of the scope of your online activity. We use private services but make our contact information available to those who might need it. Our business depends on people trusting us to send many Thousands of $ of equipment for review and not once has a private been an issue.

  13. I think if you do as suggested and use the street address of the post office with the PO Box number as a quite you are violating terms of use from Internic. You would be better off to just use the PO Box. Although to be honest that is the dilemma. If you use your home address people could show up at your doorstep true. But if I was a consumer and saw a company I wanted to do business with that used a PO Box I would be more suspicious than if it was private.


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