A Google domain name registration service, in which customers will be able to search, find, buy and transfer domain names for their businesses, has been unveiled. Google says it is currently testing the service.
According to research carried out by Google, 55% of small businesses do not have a domain name.
The search engine giant said that while it had been exploring ways to help small enterprises succeed online, through such tools as Google My Business, it saw that the starting point of every business is increasingly linked to its presence online – a website – which begins with a domain name.
Beta version being tested
Google is inviting a small number of individuals “to kick the tires” on Google Domains, a service where people can register their domain names – it is currently under construction.
“Businesses will be able to search, find, purchase and transfer the best domain for their business – whether it’s .com, .biz, .org, or any of the wide range of new domains that are being released to the Web.”
Google Domains is not ready yet, and there are still some features to add. Meanwhile, the company is allowing a small group of people, who have an invitation code, to purchase and transfer domain names through it. These individuals then send feedback on their experience.
“While we’re still building out all of the features, our goal is to make Google Domains more widely available soon. You can check out the first cut of what we’re working on at www.google.com/domains.”
GoDaddy to raise $100 million
Google’s move coincides with GoDaddy’s, one of the largest domain registration companies, which filed papers on June 9th at the US Securities Exchange Commission to raise $100 million through a share sale, i.e. it filed for an IPO (initial public offering).
Google is now in direct competition with GoDaddy, which managed 57 million domains and generated revenues of $1.1 billion in 2013.
Google says it is working together with Shopify, Wix.com, Weebly, and Squarespace to get the domain name service right.
Should registrars be worried?
Although currently at the “beta” stage, Google’s service appears to provide a range of features typically found in GoDaddy, eNom, Namecheap, Hover and other registrars.
GoDaddy controls about 30% of the domain registrar market, but it revealed that in 2013 its losses were nearly $200 million. It is definitely not the best time for such companies to now have to face Google as a rival.
For an annual registration fee of $12, Google Domains so far has/offers:
- 10 million resolutions per year on its DNS servers,
- branded email (you@your_company.com) that is forwarded to existing mail accounts (different from Google Apps domain support),
- domain forwarding,
- customizable sub-domains,
- no-cost private registration*,
- other offerings, such as .guru, .photography, plus more.
- for an additional fee, seamless access to Weebly, Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix for those wanting a comprehensive package for building a website.
*Unlike other registrars, Google customers who register their domain privately will not be charged. With a private registration, your name, address and contact data are kept from the public eye.
Already looking like a full service
It is already starting to look like the birth of a fully-fledged domain registrar business. Customers can, in effect, run their entire website without ever having to exit the Google environment.
Google itself will not provide website hosting, but through Google Domains the customer can reach Squarespace, etc. and get hosting.
Will this move eventually allow Google to have a complete stranglehold on small businesses?
Google has been an accredited registrar for several years. Entering the domain registration service makes perfect sense for the company. The move fits well with its two portals: Google My Business and Get Your Business Online.
Google is bound to make the whole process of buying and managing domains much more user friendly than the current pain it is. User friendly means easy to learn how to use and also easy to use.
It also means that the internet mega-giant will soon become the one-stop store for small online businesses.
Isn’t that a good thing? It probably is, but if Google is helping millions of small firms buy domains and build their websites, it is probably going to encourage and even compel them to sign up for its ad services and enterprise tools.
This is all welcome business for Google, but what about small businesses that do not want Google to have so much control over their Internet presence?