Google Gets Into Domain Sales

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So, you want to buy a domain name. Who do you go to first? GoDaddy? NameCheap? Whoever happens to have a sale going on right now?

How about Google?

For the past few years, anyone looking to Google to buy a domain has been met with this support page, which proclaims that “Google itself doesn’t register or host domain names,” before recommending up a few partners who do.

That changes today.

Google has just launched a small private beta for a domain registration service that it’s aptly dubbed “Google Domains.” You can find the largely locked down landing page for the service here.

And talk about timing: On June 9, GoDaddy finally filed for the IPO that it’s been mulling since at least 2006. Two weeks later, Google publicly announces plans to get into the domain registration market. Up until now, GoDaddy was even one of the partners that Google recommended. That can’t feel great.

While it seems Google is still working out exactly what it’ll bring to the table, here’s some of the stuff it’s disclosed so far:

  • Free private registration, allowing you to mask your name/address/etc. from Whois searches without having to pay a third-party service
  • Free email forwarding from whatever@yourcompany.com to your personal Gmail inbox
  • Free domain forwarding
  • Support for up to 100 sub-domains
  • Plans to support all of the crazy new domain endings that will roll out over the next few years (like .guru and .club)

The move makes enough sense that it’s actually kind if surprising that it’s taken Google this long. While domains aren’t generally considered a massive-margin business, they’ve always seemed like a glaring omission in Googles offerings; a missing puzzle piece, almost. Need email for your domain? Google does that. Need analytics for your domain? They do that, too. Want to buy the domain itself through Google? NOPE.

Also fun to note: Google is promising full phone support for Google Domain customers, making it one of very, very few Google products with a support number tied to it. The only other one I’m aware of is Google Glass (update: and, as someone else just mentioned to me, Google’s Enterprise services). You know how many people are going to try to call that number for help logging into Gmail? Because it’s a lot.

The catch: as mentioned, this is a tiny private beta for now. Want to try to get in? Go to Google Domains, click the “Manage my domains” button, log in, then hit the “Request an invite” button. Google isn’t making any promises on how many people they’ll let in, but it’ll at least get your foot in the door.