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.
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.
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.
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.