Google Domains offers a simple way for businesses to establish a web presence, but not much more.
It’s been a little over a month since Google announced its domain name registration service, and I got access to the beta today.
Google Domains is what I expected it to be: a no-frills experience designed to make it dead simple to get online.
I started by searching for available domain names. I read an article yesterday about cocktails being dispensed by tap, so I searched for “cocktails on tap”.
The results page shows a couple things:
1. Google is using some sort of rudimentary name spinner. It picked up on “draft” and delivered suggestions that include “beer”.
2. Google offers premium domain names through third parties such as Afternic and/or Sedo.
I only saw one premium domain in my search results. The domain is owned by HugeDomains and listed for sale on both Afternic and Sedo, albeit for a different price than what either marketplace shows.
Once you find a domain, you checkout with Google Wallet.
Get online, dammit!
Domain names are likely a way for Google to further its goal of getting businesses online so they can use its other service. Its welcome email confirms this:
We think domain management should be simple, secure and reliable – everything should just work, with no unwelcome surprises. We also want you to succeed online, so we’ll work tirelessly to bring you features, tools and products that can help you do just that.
With that in mind, Google Domains makes it easy to set up a website on your new domain. It shows a number of services, including Wix and Shopify, for creating a web presence. You don’t have to understand nameservers; if you start a trial with any of the services they can access and modify your domain record.
You can also easily add forwards from your new domain name to an existing email address.
What’s Key-Systems got to do with it?
Domain Name News previously questioned if Google Domains was using Key-Systems’ RRP Proxy.
It appears the companies are partnered on some level.
The domain I just registered pulls from the whois server run by RRP Proxy.
Key Systems is also the registrar of record for any domain names registered at Google Domains other than .com, .net, .org, .us, .biz and .info.
Yes, Key Systems also owns Moniker. But don’t worry, the new Google Domains interface is nothing like the disastrous one at Moniker.
Google Domains has partnered with WhoisProxy.com Ltd for domain name privacy, which comes free with each domain registration.
Simple terms of service
Google domains has the simplest terms of service I’ve seen for a registrar. I suspect it will grow over time, but for now I don’t see any “gotchas” in it.
Language about domain name renewals is also simple. Google Domains lets you renew domains for up to 30 days after expiration for the standard price (currently $12 for .com). 31-60 days will cost $40. After 60 days your domain can’t be renewed.
I don’t expect Google to try to profit from expired domain name sales.
Just a bit buggy
Google’s beta product has a few bugs to work out.
When I tried to set up a trial with web builder Weebly, I got a 500 error.
More amusingly, it was difficult to figure out how to register a second domain after registering the first one.
None of the links on the dashboard bring link to a search box or back to the Google Domains home page. I tried escaping to domains.google.com and it just showed my dashboard.
Only when I typed in Google.com/domains (which forwards to domains.google.com/about) could I access the search box and look for more domains.
I suppose it’s just a small usability issue. Yet it’s also a bit of a reminder. Google Domains isn’t looking for bulk domainers to move all of their domains over. It’s set up to help small businesses establish a web presence.