Google has quietly launched its own internet domain registration service. And like many Google projects, Google Domains is starting off in beta; you'll need an invite to get in and purchase your own URL. But the company's latest effort could present GoDaddy — the world's leading domain registrar — with some fresh competition. With Google Domains, you can set up a custom domain of your choosing, but Google won't actually be hosting your website. It's only handling the domain registration aspect; for everything else, the company has partnered with Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Shopify — businesses that specialize in helping consumers build complete websites in mere minutes.
Pick your URL with Google
But Google seems to think it can do the domain registration part better than the competition. First, it's promising not to charge users anything extra to conceal personal information (e.g. name and address) that must be provided when registering a URL. Google Domains users can create up to 100 email aliases using their domain, and Mountain View also says it's making domain forwarding super easy in case there's already a Tumblr or existing site you'd like your new URL to point to. And you shouldn't run into any problems or downtime (at least on Google's end). Google Domains use the same DNS servers as Google's other websites, ensuring "your domain will connect quickly and reliably to your website."
Build your actual website with Squarespace
Lastly, there's the benefit of real customer support. Google says phone and email support will be available Monday through Friday from 9AM to 9PM EST. Google Domains will help you set up a new URL, but it's also accepting domain transfers from other registrars if you're lucky enough to get an invite. The first invites are going out to select businesses now, and there's no target date for when the service will go public. Google is only saying, "Our goal is to make Google Domains more widely available soon." For now, it wants all the feedback it can get from early users.
Known best for its attention-grabbing, provocative Super Bowl commercials, GoDaddy dominates the domain registration and web hosting industry. Smaller rivals like Hover have tried to stand out by providing stellar customer service and focusing on ease of use, but GoDaddy still plows along and holds a massive market share in the US. And that's after it came under fire for initially supporting SOPA and some lackluster security measures. To be fair, GoDaddy is starting to grow up, with a leadership team intent on shedding its old, sleazy image in favor of something more mature and universally appealing. Adding some serious competition to the mix may benefit everyone involved.