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How To Find Out Who Owns a Website

Posted by Ralph on May 8, 2017

There are moments when you view something and wonder who made it. The same goes for websites. Whether you’ve stumbled upon an online educational resource or a gossip website, you begin to think of who had the idea to create it.

Identifying the owner of a website can also help understand why it was built that way. For political and controversial posts, knowing the creator can provide some much-needed context. Another reason to find out is to know how many sites an individual has. But how can you know a website’s owner in the first place?

USING WHOIS

You may be asking what WHOIS is in the first place. Simply put, this term is used whenever anyone wants to access information about a website. Whenever someone registers a web domain, relevant information becomes part of a public database.

If you are looking for the domain name, IP address, or even the address and contact numbers, WHOIS will serve as your best friend.

godaddywhois

WHOIS websites:

  • GoDaddy WHOIS Lookup
  • whois.net
  • whois.icann.org
  • whois.com
  • whois.domaintools.com
  • who.is
  • whois-search.com

All WHOIS websites are pretty similar, give or take a few exceptions. In general, these are what you will find:

These will include a lot of information:

  • registrant
  • registrar
  • registrar status
  • relevant dates
  • name servers
  • IP address
  • IP location
  • ASN
  • domain status
  • WHOIS history
  • IP history
  • registrar history
  • hosting history
  • WHOIS server
  • website response code
  • website SEO score
  • website terms
  • website images
  • website links
  • WHOIS record

Verifying WHOIS Data

Data can always be falsified, but organizations and individuals try their best to establish the truth. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) knows that WHOIS information should be accurate.

icann

Thanks to the 2013 RAA, registrars now have to verify WHOIS data fields. This means that the contact numbers and addresses should always be updated. In order to assess the status of WHOIS data, ICANN commits itself to conducting extensive studies about it.

Using WHOIS

Step 1: Visit any website with a WHOIS function.

who.is

Step 2: Enter the website URL in the search bar.

who.is fb

Step 3: Look at the results.

who.is.fb1

Ideally, you will get all the information you need. This includes phone numbers, addresses, and even the name of the registrant.

Private Registration Issues

For the most prominent websites and those who just generally value privacy, the WHOIS lookup tool is not enough. This is because domain name registrars provide people with the domain privacy option to secure their own personal information. While GoDaddy has a WHOIS feature, they also allow their customers to get Domain Privacy protection.

While GoDaddy has a WHOIS feature, they also work with Domains by Proxy to allow their customers to get Domain Privacy protection.

There are good reasons why domain owners hide information:

  • prevent receiving spam and other unwanted messages
  • avoid increasing the likelihood of being hacked

Thus, there is no wonder why people pay more for domain privacy. It saves them the time of removing spam and keeping their websites safe from possible exploitation.

Still, you can get an idea of how many domains have the same owner by utilizing other methods.

In order to seek more information despite this domain privacy feature, you have several options:

Reverse WHOIS Search

If you want to find out whether multiple web domains are owned by the same entity or not, you can take advantage of the information you gained by using a WHOIS tool.

For example, if the phone number is 800-123-4567, all you have to do is to type “800-123-4567” (with the quotation marks) followed by site:whois.domaintools.com.

poshmahal

As you can see, even this randomly chosen phone number actually leads to a result. Here, we see that the contact number revealed a registrant that owns more than four web domains.

poshmahal2

Sometimes, it’s better to use the phone numbers and addresses for a reverse WHOIS search since names aren’t exactly unique and readily available.

Reverse Google Analytics Search

It isn’t uncommon to see domain owners utilizing the reliable Google Analytics to see web traffic. Even if the actual domain owner isn’t provided by a WHOIS search, you can take advantage of sites that identify websites under one Google Analytics account.

If you know the Google Analytics ID of a domain, here’s what you can do:

Step 1: Visit moonsearch.com/analytics.

Step 2: Put the Google Analytics ID on the search bar.

Step 3: Check out the results.

It’s pretty simple, but it’s nearly impossible to do if the Google Analytics ID isn’t available.

Reverse IP Search

Another option is to perform a Reverse IP search. It’s pretty much similar to how you would do a WHOIS search. In fact, a site that does Reverse IP searches only needs a domain name.

Step 1: Go to spyonweb.com.

Step 2: Enter the domain name or the IP address.

spyonweb

Step 3: View the results.

spyonweb2

While it isn’t surprising to see an IP address having five domains, which likely means it only has one owner, a single one showing hundreds of domains most likely means that a domain owner is simply using a shared host. A shared host means that a domain owner does not have control over the other websites under the same IP address.

Reverse Google AdSense Search

If you see a domain that earns money through Google AdSense, you can do a reverse search to identify if the domain owner has other websites.

Step 1: Go to a domain and view the HTML page source.

You can achieve this by doing Ctrl + U on Windows or Option/Alt + Command + U in Safari. Similarly, you can just right click and select View page source (Windows) or Show page source (Safari).

Step 2: Find the AdSense string.

Just use the find function by clicking Ctrl + F on Windows or Command + F in Safari. Type “ca-pub” and see if there are any to be found in the page source. Take note that it’s common to not see any AdSense string.

Step 3: Go to domainiq.com/reverse_adsense.

If you were able to locate the Google Adsense ID, simply type it in the search bar. Ideally, you should see all websites using the same ID. This is more useful than knowing the same IP address as the domain owner will likely use the same ID to monetize the websites owned.

All in all, you should not be surprised when you conduct a WHOIS search and see that the actual domain owner isn’t posted because of a Domain Privacy tool. If you do want to know how many domains an individual might have, you can conduct the four reverse searches provided above.

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