In April 2020, GoDaddy announced that they would be removing public WHOIS information. In a statement given to Elliot Silver of DomainInvesting.com, GoDaddy said that
“Due to changing privacy regulations in the U.S. and around the world, GoDaddy is in the process of making some changes to align our offerings similar to what we did in GDPR regions.”
The “changing privacy regulations” reference is the set of rules that makes up the new CCPA, California Consumer Privacy Act, which offers consumers rights and control over their data privacy.
The CCPA is somewhat similar to GDPR, a European privacy law that was introduced in May 2018. The GDPR meant big changes for WHOIS information, as many domain registrars redacted information for all domains, meaning that WHOIS data started to look a little something like this:
After GDPR, GoDaddy kept most of their WHOIS information online, available for the public to view via GoDaddy’s WHOIS search. However, in light of the CCPA, GoDaddy has taken most of their WHOIS data offline, with WHOIS listings being massively affected:
Visit the domain
If the person who owns the domain that you are interested in wants to be contacted, they will usually make it fairly foolproof. The most obvious place to start is by finding out whether the domain in question hosts a website or landing page.
The site or landing page will usually contain some way for you to get in touch with the domain owner.
Check WHOIS history
The database of WHOIS historical records is something many people consult every day for multiple reasons. It can be helpful during research, investigations, and acquisitions.
Leading premium tools such as DomainTools and DomainIQ offer in-depth historical records of the vast majority of domain names in existence today. Since the resources needed to maintain these databases are so substantial, WHOIS history is certainly a premium service.
Use the registrant organization information
There are very few WHOIS details available for the general public to see at GoDaddy, but there are a couple of details that you could work with. Those are:
- The registrant’s organization
- The registrant’s state/province
- The registrant’s country
If the registrant’s organization field contains any data, then use that. In this scenario, this domain is registered to “Go Daddy Operating Company LLC”:
Using this data, you can search for that company on Google, and find an appropriate representative to contact.
If you’re intent on buying the domain name that you’ve come across, perhaps check domain marketplaces first. If a domain name is actively for sale, the chances are that the owner has added the name to at least one marketplace.
If you want to see whether a domain is actively listed on a marketplace, you can go to Dofo.com, and search for the domain there. Dofo has data from major marketplaces and will be able to tell you whether your desired domain is listed at a marketplace already.
Making an offer to the owner via a marketplace may turn out to be the easiest way to get in touch with them.
Click the “Contact” Link
After hiding most of the useful WHOIS data, GoDaddy has recognized that it’s still important to be able to get in touch with domain owners. That’s why the company has introduced a subtle contact link at the bottom of any WHOIS listing.
You’d be forgiven for missing this, as it’s nestled between a couple of other nondescript links at the bottom of any WHOIS listing. The link you’re looking for is “Contact Domain Holder”:
By clicking this link, you’ll be presented with a popup box prompting you to fill in your details:
Fill out your details and click submit. The domain owner will be sent an email via GoDaddy with your message to them.
Having GoDaddy send an email to the owner on your behalf may add some legitimacy to your inquiry since the message is sent from an “@godaddy.com” email address, and contains clear GoDaddy branding. There’s a lesser chance of any recipient assuming that your inquiry is some sort of scam. Here’s part of what a typical email from GoDaddy looks like:
Of course, it’s up to the owner to decide whether they respond to you or not, but this is possibly the most reliable way that GoDaddy offers to contact a domain owner directly.