A WHOIS lookup allows you to find a domain name owner’s name, contact information, and other important details. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) maintains a database the public can search to see who owns any domain.
During domain name registration, you have to provide accurate and current information about yourself. This info is used to ensure the security and reliability of your registered domain names and websites.
Why Use a WHOIS Lookup?
You may want to search for a domain name in a WHOIS database for a number of reasons.
Some of the main ones are to verify domain ownership, find contact information, perform research and analysis, and check domain name registration and expiration dates.
Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail:
- Domain Ownership Verification. If you are buying a domain name or website, then you can use a WHOIS lookup to make sure the domain owner is who they say they are. You can also see whether a website has harmful content and legal action needs to be taken. A WHOIS search is the first step in finding who is responsible.
- Contact Information. You might simply need to get in touch with someone who owns a website for collaboration or a general question. A WHOIS lookup can reveal their contact details, including a physical address, email address, and phone number.
- Research and Analysis. Businesses often use WHOIS lookups to study competitors, understand market trends, and evaluate potential business opportunities based on domain registrations. For example, if you see the personal contact information of your main competitor attached to a new domain, then you might see a potential opportunity for your own business.
- Domain Name Registration Date. Older domains tend to be trusted more by both users and search engines. A WHOIS lookup tool can show you how long a domain name has been active to give you an idea of the website’s reliability. Depending on the industry, doing business with an international corporation that has been using a registered domain for 15+ years may be better than one that has existed for less than a year.
- Domain Name Expiration Date. If you are interested in getting a domain name that’s close to expiring, then you can find its WHOIS information, which includes the expiration date. Domains are locked for a certain amount of time after expiration, called a grace period, and when that time is up, you can register it for yourself.
How to Do a WHOIS Lookup
Performing a WHOIS lookup is very simple. Let’s walk through the steps.
First, you just need to choose a WHOIS search tool. Many domain registrars and web hosting providers offer WHOIS lookup services.
We suggest using Domain.com’s WHOIS lookup. It’s easy to use. Simply type in the domain and press the ‘Look Up’ button.
The tool will then look for and display all the domain information it finds.
You will see things like who registered the domain name, when and where it was registered, contact details of the current owner, and more.
Important WHOIS Lookup Considerations
Because WHOIS information is stored in a public WHOIS database that anyone can access, many people use domain privacy services. These protection services usually come as part of the purchase process, but they can be added later, too.
When enabled, domain privacy replaces the owner’s contact information and WHOIS data with proxy info from the domain registrar. This prevents spammers and potential hackers from being able to target you.
Some domain registrars charge an annual fee for domain privacy, while others, like Namecheap, provide them for free for every domain.
For more information on domain privacy and security, take a look at our guide on how to buy a domain name anonymously.
Also, it should be noted that not all WHOIS data is up-to-date. While it is technically required by ICANN, not every current owner keeps their contact information accurate.
We hope this article helped you learn more about WHOIS lookups in WordPress. You may also want to see our Additional Reading list below for related articles on useful WordPress tips, tricks, and ideas.