There's an interesting discussion on Cre8asite Forums about losing rankings when you transfer your domain to another registrar. A few people suspect that doing so could cause a loss of rankings, but some other members have not seen any changes whatsoever. At this point, opinion is relatively mixed.
It is suspected that ranking drops could be simply because of another change (page structure, perhaps), but not so much because of the domain registrar information on its own. However, again, there are people who seemed to have experienced a drop in rankings due to a transfer of a domain, despite the legitimate reasons and need to do so.
On one hand, softplus (John) says that nothing has happened when he switched domain registrars:
Changing domain registration details will generally have no influence on your site's indexing and ranking on Google. I've moved domains across accounts and registrars and have seen no change at all (at least none that I could pin-point on the domain whois information biggrin.gif).
But on the other hand, rmccarley has seen something else:
Softplus I have definately seen ranking drops where the only change was registration info. While I agree the effect is generaly overrated by SEOs (and over-speculated) it is there.
What I have *heard* is that the link-age starts over so any value from aged links just isn't there. Without that the link structure is revaluated which can disrupt the SERPs
Last year, Barry wrote about changing domain ownership and how it impacts results. From an earlier posting, Google has admitted that it weighs upon registrar data to improve search quality. But recent developments may show that this is not the case because Google can't focus on rankings in this way anymore. In any event, perhaps a 10 year domain registration is in order, not because of the murkiness of the situation, but also just for the investment (and its affordability). Even so, however, one wonders if the investment really does pay off. I suppose there are a lot of questions that will remain unanswered and individual user experience may be the most important element here.
On the forums, this ownership question led the discussion to the question of whether Google is a good registrar to choose. Since Google is now a domain registrar, one wonders if maintaining a domain with Google is really the right way to go. Some people see looking at Google as a domain registrar is overrated; they own web properties and it's not a big financial sacrifice for them to become a registrar:
I believe the registrar status of Google is being over-rated by many SEO people. Anyone can be a registrar, provided they can prove that they have the infrastructure and that they pay the down-payment (I believe it's $10'000, but I'm not certain). To a company like Google, that's peanuts.
John, the same person who made the above statement, continues to say that it wouldn't hurt and that Google is probably not looking as closely as one may tend to think:
Would they really implement an algorithm to analyze domain changes just for a fraction (albeit a large one, at the moment) of the web?
Discussion continues about both topics at Cre8asite Forums.