Practical Ecommerce

Google’s Domain Registration Service Can Help Small Businesses

Only about 45 percent of small businesses have a website. Those businesses without a website aren’t attracting customers online and may be stifling their own growth. In response, the leading Internet search company, Google, is trying to make getting a website or at least a domain name for a website a lot easier.

On June 23, 2014, Google announced an invitation-only test of a domain name management service, called Google Domains. According to a post on Google Plus, the company believed that it made sense to try to help businesses get a leg up online, beginning with domain names.

Google Domains is currently in beta. Companies can request an invitation to try out the service and provide feedback.

Google Domains is currently in beta. Companies can request an invitation to try out the service and provide feedback.

Not having a website might seem insane to pure-play ecommerce businesses, with all sales coming from the online channel. There are, however, many brick-and-mortar retailers, particularly small ones, that have yet to make the transition to brick-and-click. If Google can help thousands of retailers add an ecommerce channel — not to mention the hundreds or even thousands of other sorts of businesses that would benefit from a site — the company also helps itself, adding many new customers for Google services like Mail, AdWords, Analytics, or similar.

From the aforementioned Plus post, it seems that Google is planning to manage the domain names for business and make site development relatively easier through relationships with hosting partners or software-as-a-service providers. Shopify, a SaaS ecommerce platform provider, offers a free trial to new Google Domains users.

$12 Per Year, Regardless of Duration

Google Domains is currently charging $12 per year for common top-level domains like .com, .net, .org, .us and similar. Newer top-level domains, including .today, .center, and .company are $20 per year, and other top-level domains, including .guru, are $28 per year.

Many domain registrars offer discounts for multi-year registrations, so that a one-year registration is, say, $12, but a two-year-registration is something less than $24. Not so with Google Domains, there is, at the moment, no discount for a multi-year registration.

Google Domains charges a flat annual fee, regardless of how many years for which one registers a domain name.

Google Domains charges a flat annual fee, regardless of how many years for which one registers a domain name.

This flat annual rate may encourage some businesses to purchase a domain on impulse rather than contemplating the commitment of a multi-year registration to save money.

It is worth nothing that at $12 per year, Google is not the least or most expensive registrar. GoDaddy, which is one of the largest domain registrars with approximately 57 million domains managed, is, at the time of writing, offering the first year of registration for $2.99 for some top-level domains, with the annual rate rising to $12.99 or more after the first year. Network Solutions has single-year domain registrations set at $34.99, but with the promise of relatively better service than the lowest cost provider.

Free Private Registration and Other Services

Google Domains offers free private registration, which obscures the site owner’s contact information from the general public, and is usually a premium service for which domain registrars typically charge.

While private registration is probably not a service that retailers will use, it is noteworthy that Google Domains is, perhaps, trying to keep the overall domain-buying experience as inexpensive as possible.

Similarly Google Domains is not charging extra for email aliases or domain forwarding, both of which can be expensive add-ons at other registrars.

Extremely Simple Registration Process

Registering a domain on Google Domains is extremely simple.

There are no ads, no additional features to purchase, no up-sells. One simply finds a domain and buys that domain.

This point should not be understated. If you have tried to purchase a domain on some other registrar’s site, you will have no doubt encountered several screens of offers that make the process more difficult that it should be. One can only hope that as Google adds features to its Domains service that it does not lose its ease of use.


Businesses already online may also transfer domains to Google Domains, potentially saving money. For example, Domains is less expensive 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 an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requirement.

Google Domains’ far better interface may be reason enough to leave another registrar behind. While many domain registrars pollute the domain management process with ads, offers, and layers of pages, accessing and managing a domain with Google Domains is easy.

Summing Up

Google set out to make one of the most basic parts of doing business online easier, and in the beta version of its domain name service, it has seemingly succeeded.

The service is priced properly, extremely simple to use, and thankfully free of ads, offers, and nonsensical clutter common to domain registration and management from other providers. The process of acquiring and keeping up domain names benefits from Google’s experience with user interfaces.

The only fear is that as Google adds features, it also adds clutter. If that does not happen, Google Domains should be an excellent choice for domain name management.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Craig Bagdon August 12, 2014 Reply

    I wanted to add a quick note regarding private registration.

    I’ve read articles over the years that imply that private registrations can impact how a webpage ranks organically.

    The main idea is transparency. If a company is legitimate, there’s really no reason for the company to have a private domain registration.

    • Armando Roggio August 12, 2014 Reply

      Craig, thanks. I generally agree. I cannot really think of a good reason for an online retailer to use private registration.

      Interestingly, for this article I registered a new domain and tried the private registration just to see if I could detect a difference.

  2. Jon August 14, 2014 Reply

    This may make getting a domain more accessible to some businesses, especially in conjunction with Google Apps. It’s hard to justify using a generic email address like Gmail nowadays in any case.

    Having said that, I’m curious what value Google will add. Getting a domain is already so easy that it’s hard to understand what’s keeping so many businesses. The upsell tactics of Godaddy etc may be one culprit, suggesting that you need more services to make a domain useful than you really do.

    And just for those who are tempted by Network Solutions’ promise to deliver better service: that’s ALL it is, a promise. This is not a case of you get what you pay for.

    • Armando Roggio August 14, 2014 Reply

      Jon, if I may, I would argue that we only thought that “getting a domain is already so easy.” Compared to using some other domain registration services Google Domains is like a drink of fresh cool water.

  3. paul August 14, 2014 Reply

    Interesting article thank you…I feel the vast majority of laymen over 50 are just realizing what and how important domain names and hosting is myself included. I found over time that go daddy a great company and domains priced right another great company and another great company all 3 with excellent customer service are in some way I am yet to fully grasp related as far as I can tell one phone tech support called it “sort of a sister” relationship.

    It does get confusing and I wish the group was truly one much like Google is doing though I’m not likely to change…because changing scares me…things go wrong then you spend your day on tech support…..I don’t mean only with domain registers …but any phone switch circling the globe you end up with who has various levels of command of English or what I incorrectly but accurately call “American” I’m sure as time goes on the stronger easier will survive over more troublesome but cheaper IT companies.

  4. Suniel Rampadarath October 13, 2014 Reply

    Can I pay for a google domain through western union money transfer?


    • Armando Roggio October 30, 2014 Reply

      That would be a question for Google, but I do not think so.

  5. Matt October 29, 2014 Reply

    Hi Armando. Do you know where I can find a link to purchase the Private Registration service that google offer?

    • Armando Roggio October 30, 2014 Reply

      Matt, I am not completely certain that I understand the question. Registration is free with a domain.

  6. Ali December 3, 2014 Reply

    Hello Armando, I have a query that if i buy Google domain right now, will i also be provided with Free Email hosting? i have a 10 users in my company who uses Email, so i have to buy users for Email separately? i am actually confused because of Google Apps for work which is costing $5/user for standard subscription, email accounts are my biggest priority and it should be free with Domain name purchase. i hope you understand my question, in other words if i explain my query is whether Google apps for work is just an Add-on for Existing Email hosting? or it itself is Email Host?