Google’s domain registration service can help small businesses
Only about 45% of small businesses have a website. These businesses without a website fail to attract online customers and can stifle their own growth. In response, the leading Internet search company, Google, is trying to make it easier to get a website or at least a domain name for a website.
On June 23, 2014, Google announced an invitation-only trial of a domain name management service, called Google domains. According to a post on Google Plus, the company felt it made sense to try to help businesses get a head start online, starting with domain names.
Not having a website might seem crazy for pure e-commerce businesses, with all sales coming from the online channel. There are, however, many brick-and-mortar retailers, especially smaller ones, that have yet to make the transition to brick-and-click. If Google can help thousands of retailers add an e-commerce channel — not to mention hundreds, if not thousands, of other types of businesses that would benefit from a site — the company is also helping itself by adding many new customers for Google services such as Mail, AdWords, Analytics, or similar.
From the aforementioned Plus post, it looks like Google is planning to manage domain names for businesses and make site development relatively easier through relationships with hosting partners or software providers as service. Shopify, a SaaS e-commerce platform provider, offers a free trial to new Google Domains users.
$12 per year, regardless of duration
Google Domains currently charges $12 per year for common top-level domains such as .com, .net, .org, .us, and similar. New top-level domains, including .today, .center, and .company cost $20 per year, and other top-level domains, including .guru, cost $28 per year.
Many domain registrars offer discounts for multi-year registrations, so a one-year registration costs, say, $12, but a two-year registration costs less than $24. This is not the case with Google Domains, there is currently no discount for multi-year registration.
This annual fee may encourage some companies to buy a domain on a whim rather than consider committing to a multi-year registration to save money.
It’s worth nothing at $12 a year, Google isn’t the cheapest or the most expensive registrar. GoDaddy, which is one of the largest domain registrars with approximately 57 million managed domains, offers, at the time of writing, the first year of registration for $2.99 for select top-level domains, the annual rate reaching $12.99 or more after the first year. Network Solutions has domain registrations for one year set at $34.99, but with the promise of relatively better service than the cheapest provider.
Free private registration and other services
Google Domains offers free private registration, which hides the site owner’s contact information from the general public, and is generally a premium service that domain registrars typically charge for.
While private registration is unlikely to be a service that retailers will use, it’s worth noting that Google Domains may be trying to keep the overall domain buying experience as inexpensive as possible.
Likewise, Google Domains doesn’t charge extra for email aliases or domain transfer, both of which can be expensive add-ons at other registrars.
Extremely simple registration process
Registering a domain on Google Domains is extremely easy.
There are no ads, no additional features to buy, no upsells. You simply find a domain and buy that domain.
This point should not be underestimated. If you’ve tried to buy a domain from another registrar’s site, you’ve probably encountered several screens of offers that make the process more difficult than it should be. One can only hope that as Google adds functionality to its domain service, it won’t lose its ease of use.
Businesses already online can also transfer domains to Google Domains, which can potentially save money. For example, Domains is cheaper than most registrars, including GoDaddy and Network Solutions, after the first year.
As with any domain name transfer, companies are required to extend the registration for an additional year. This is a requirement of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Google Domains’ much better interface may be reason enough to leave another registrar behind. While many domain registrars pollute the domain management process with advertisements, offers, and page layers, accessing and managing a domain with Google Domains is easy.
Google set out to make one of the most basic parts of online business easier, and in the beta version of its domain name service, it apparently succeeded.
The service is priced correctly, extremely simple to use, and thankfully free of the nonsensical ads, offers, and clutter common with other providers’ domain registration and management. The process of acquiring and maintaining domain names benefits from Google’s experience in user interfaces.
The only fear is that as Google adds functionality, it also adds clutter. If that doesn’t happen, Google Domains should be a great choice for domain name management.