When someone wants to create a website, they have to register the domain name. They’re reserving the address (or URL) on the internet for a certain period. When they register a domain, they’re added to the domain registration history.
If you want to learn how to find the owner of a website, there are plenty of online resources to help you out.
Keep reading to find out:
- How to find the owner of a website
- How to look up the domain registration history of a website
Why You Might Want to Find the Owner of a Website
Wanting to purchase a domain is the most common reason for learning how to find the owner of a website. Let’s say you’re starting your own website, and you do a URL availability search or a Bluehost domain search only to find that the domain you want is taken.
You can find the owner of the domain or website and contact that person to see if they’re willing to sell you the domain.
There are a few other reasons you might want to find the owner of a domain or website. Perhaps you wish to contact the website owner for another reason, such as having a question about their content or design.
And finally, you might want to find the owner of a website if you believe that the content or the business is questionable.
Whatever reason you choose, there are several strategies you can use to look up a website’s owner or domain registration history.
Are the Domain Owner and the Website Owner the Same?
In most situations, the domain owner and the website owner are the same. But technically, that doesn’t have to be the case. So, who is the owner of a domain?
Businesses are a great example to look at. A business website is part of the company, which can be owned by a partnership or corporation. However, domains are usually registered to one individual.
When a domain is registered, it will have several contacts listed for it. These are Registrant, Admin, Technical, and Billing. The Registrant contact is the legal owner of the domain.
If you hired an agency to build your website, someone on its staff might have registered the domain. If it’s not under your contact information, you wouldn’t be the website’s legal owner.
And finally, sometimes, domain registration services retain ownership of your domain. If they charge you for managing your domain, such as updating MX or A records, then that’s a good sign that you don’t legally own your domain.
However, if you find the domain owner, it will be easy to get to the website owner and vice versa.
Let’s look at five proven ways to find out who owns a website.
How to Find the Owner of a Website
- Search the website
- Check domain registration history
- Contact a domain brokerage
- Use search engines or social media
- Find an email associated with the domain
- Searching the Website
If you want to know how to find the owner of a domain, start with the website. The website itself can be a useful source of information.
If the domain has been registered, but the website is not live yet, skip to step two and look at the domain registration history.
However, if there is a website, here are some places to look to find a website owner:
- Contact us page
- About page
- Website footer
Depending on the website owner, they may make their contact information accessible. Professional resume websites often have contact information, and so do sales websites.
However, if the owner of the website doesn’t list any contact information on the contact us or about page, there are a couple of other places you can look.
First, scroll down to the website footer. This is where you can find out who owns the copyright, and sometimes you can find out which agency created the website. Either of these can point you in the direction of the website owner.
- Domain Registration History
Unfortunately, doing an availability search such as a WordPress domain search or Instant Domain Search can only tell you if a domain name is taken or not. It won’t tell you who owns it.
To find an owner, you can search the domain registration history.
Domain registration history is also known as WHOIS history because it collects all WHOIS records associated with a domain, starting with the first registration.
Think about domain registration history as the old way of keeping library book records. Each book contained a list of all the people who had checked it out before. It’s similar for domain names, except everything is online.
Domain name registration and ownership are managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). As part of ICANN domain registration, it requires the creation of WHOIS records, which identify domain owners and provide their contact information.
The good news is that WHOIS records are made publicly available. ICANN legally requires that this contact information is shared. So, performing a URL owner lookup is quite simple.
To find a website owner using domain registration history, you’ll need to perform a WHOIS search.
- Go to https://whois.icann.org/
- Enter the domain name you’re searching for
- Click Lookup
If the domain is registered, then you’ll find the contact information there.
The domain ownership history will help you identify the right contact for questions about the domain or website.
However, some domain provider services offer private registration. This means that the domain provider is listed as the registrant so that the individual owner can maintain some level of anonymity.
If there is no contact information section and the registrar information doesn’t have an email or a phone number listed, then the domain has likely been registered privately.
There are still ways to find a website owner if a domain has been registered privately.
You can also find out when the domain is set to expire. If the domain registrant doesn’t have automatic renewal, there’s a chance the domain will be available after the expiration date passes.
Doing an expired domain search helps you find newly available domain names.
- Check With a Domain Broker
If your domain registration history search didn’t yield any results, you might be able to get information from a domain broker. Domain brokers are individuals that facilitate sales of a domain name.
Some brokers work on behalf of domain buyers, and their services include finding domain owners as part of the buying and selling process. But domain brokers have fees for these services.
We only recommend using a domain broker if you ultimately want to buy the domain that you’re researching.
You can use a list of brokers to find the right one for you.
- Search Engines and Social Media
Another place to find information is through internet detective work. If a business owns a website, you can research employees on Linkedin and other social media platforms.
To find a domain owner, you want to look for someone in the IT or marketing department. These individuals are the people most likely to be involved with managing the website.
If you want to search for a specific job title on LinkedIn, you can use the advanced search filters. First, search for the business page and then click See all employees on the header section.
Then, you can click on All Filters on the search results page.
In the field labeled Title, you can enter departmental keywords like marketing or IT. You can also try job-specific keywords such as webmaster or administrator.
Finding the right person might take some trial and error.
Once you find the right person, try contacting them directly via social media or Linkedin. Otherwise, you can use a search engine or sales tool to see if they have contact information listed online.
- Finding an Email Associated With the Domain
When domain registration history and social media fail, you can use the domain to look for a contact email. When someone registers a domain, they’re also able to create email addresses with that domain name.
If your domain owner used the domain to create a contact email, you can look this up with online tools.
Hunter.io is a sales prospecting tool that helps find contact information based on a domain URL. Simply enter the domain you’re searching for, and it’ll provide a list of associated emails.
Services like Hunter.io guess the email address format and then send an email to see if it bounces back.
Hunter gives you a limited number of free searches, but you may have to create an account.
This service isn’t going to have every email available. In general, it works better with business domains rather than personal domains.
If you can find an email address, you now have someone you can contact to inquire about the domain owner.
There are several reasons you might want to find the owner of a website. The good news is that domain registration history is public record on the internet.
However, domain providers have recognized that some of their customers want to remain private or anonymous. So, finding a website owner isn’t always straightforward.
With a little bit of digging and detective work, you should be able to find the owner of a domain, or at least a contact that can point you in the right direction.
Keep in mind, just because you find the domain owner does not mean you’ll be able to buy the domain. It’s always best to brainstorm multiple domain name ideas for your business.
To learn more about creating a website, and get a free domain for one year, check out Bluehost’s web hosting plans.