Nick Wilsdon, also known as NickW on many forums, shares with us what information Google might have access to as a domain name registrar in an article entitled, “What does Google know about your domain names?”
When Google became a domain registrar back in February 2005, people began to wonder what they were up to. Were they going to sell and maintain domain names such as GoDaddy, DirectNIC and others do, or was there another motive up their sleeve? Possibly their interest lies in the additional information they have access to as a registrar?
Nick Wilsdon has worked as a domain registrar for Tucows since 2000, as well as being an active member of their beta development team so he has a bit more insight into what a registrar knows about domain names then maybe the rest of us do.
Some excerpts from the article:
“There is one very important benefit to becoming a direct Registrar with each ccTLD and TLD Registry; access to their APIs. While the Registries do provide a public WHOIS service this is often limited. In much the same way Google and Yahoo restrict automated searches, the Registries restrict queries on their data. As a Registrar you are entitled to carry out high volume automated queries.”
“I’m sure at this point several of you have already reached my conclusions. I believe Google has built or is building a tool to analyze domain names. The API access they were given as a Registrar allows them to carry out the level of automated queries they needed for this. I would also go further and suggest this tool is building up a historical picture of each domain through regular scraping of their WHOIS records.”
He goes on to say:
“As you can imagine this tool could be very useful for Google. It would allow them to track the age of domain names and connect likely networks and portfolios. They would see when a domain name changed ownership and allow them to adjust the value of that domain in their engine.”
While the article merely speculates on how Google might use their position as a domain registrar, it is pretty obvious to me that their intent is to help improve their index and use the information they learn about domains as another tool in their arsenal to combat spam.