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I have heard that when domain ownership changes, the domain loses its page rank.

My theory on this is: Lots of sites selling high PR domains actually cheat. They invest in high PR links for the domain they want to sell (say buy a yahoo directory link, or maybe even use their own set of high PR pages to link to that domain temporarily). As soon as someone buys the "high PR" domain, they delete those links. And the new owner effectively gets a '0 page rank' site. This might have led to the misconception that changing owners makes the domain lose its PR. But I may be wrong.

Can someone share their insights on this? Do you think it is safe for me to change registrar without affecting my SEO and current page rank at all? (Note that changing registrars can be as good as changing owners if privacy protection is enabled - as complete whois info will change). Anyone with prior experience where changing registrars has or has not affected their SEO?

regards,

JP

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Google's "Information retrieval based on historical data" patent is about as close to authoritative (i.e. not anecdotal) data as you can get:

[0101] Also, or alternatively, the age, or other information, regarding a name server associated with a domain may be used to predict the legitimacy of the domain. A "good" name server may have a mix of different domains from different registrars and have a history of hosting those domains, while a "bad" name server might host mainly pornography or doorway domains, domains with commercial words (a common indicator of spam), or primarily bulk domains from a single registrar, or might be brand new. The newness of a name server might not automatically be a negative factor in determining the legitimacy of the associated domain, but in combination with other factors, such as ones described herein, it could be.

This would suggest that the domain's registration data and nameservers do factor in, however, anecdotally, (nameserver changes, registrant info changes, registrar changes) I would say that changing registrars has very little long-term impact on a domain's ranking.

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Thanks for the great info (digging into patents on the subject!). I am still unsure is it wise to change the registrar of an old domain that is well placed in the search results (having spent considerable effort on link building). What I want to avoid is the PR or position in results drops (even if its for 3-4 months). Keeping this in mind it might be better to spend a dollar or two extra while buying the domain and choose the registrar you most like rather than falling for single year promotions. –  JP19 Dec 21 '10 at 7:54
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@JP19 - I was fortunate enough to get a handful of domains at Yahoo while they were offering a $5/year special and then, about a year later, I received an offer from GoDaddy which allowed me to keep my domains for significantly less than Yahoo's ongoing $35/year rate (eesh) ... didn't see any problems with any of the domains in question, but if you're talking a difference of a few dollars and your present registrar hasn't failed you otherwise then go with what you know. –  danlefree Dec 21 '10 at 10:43
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I imagine that registration info updates unrelated to content changes happen frequently enough that Google has worked out a system that won't penalize you for changing nameservers or registration info. They probably only reset PR if they see that the registration info has changed and the content has changed significantly (i.e. outbound links completely changed, major shift in keyword/topic focus, quantity and quality of content suddenly drops, page count suddenly increased or decreased drastically, etc.) or simultaneous hosting change. –  Lèse majesté Dec 21 '10 at 11:54
    
@Lèse majesté - That would be a reasonable assumption, however (in the case of a domain "mp3-charts.us" expired 11/14/2010 that I found through GoDaddy auctions) it appears as though Google has kept the domain in its index despite a change of content and (presumably) registrant information: google.com/search?q=site%3Amp3-charts.us [I should qualify that by stating that it does not appear as though this domain presently ranks well for the terms Google's keyword tool suggests it is "relevant" for, if it ever did rank well] –  danlefree Dec 21 '10 at 13:02
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It really depends on the content if your content and links of the domain change then yes you could lose ranking.

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I changed registrars 3 times for some domains (I even changed form US registrars to Italian registars) and none of the undergoing websites got affected at all regarding Google ranking and/or PR.

But watch out, I did not change WHOIS DATA for these domains.

Changing whois data might be a different story, sometimes I ownder if Google looks into them for ranking local searches.

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