google-sign-kirkland2People looking for domains on the web will soon have another vendor to choose from: Google.

The company announced today that it is slowly opening up access to Google Domains, a service that gives people the ability to buy domains from one of the biggest companies on the web. Google’s small-business division decided to launch the project, because the company found 55 percent of small businesses don’t already have a website. Clearly, Google thinks it can make a play to get those businesses started on the web.

With their registration, users will get up to 100 email aliases that can forward to existing mail accounts, free private registration (which keeps users’ personal information out of their global WHOIS record) and easy forwarding from one domain to another.

Right now, Google Domains is invite-only as the company continues to build out its service. Google won’t provide hosting, but it has partnered with Squarespace, Shopify, and Weebly to provide hosting services to registrants.

The move makes sense, since people looking to stake a claim on the web often turn to Google to find whether a domain name is available or not. Google’s brand name will also probably curry favor among small business owners who want to open a website.

It’s a business that’s ripe for Google’s disruption. Domain registration can be confusing and overly technical to people who aren’t familiar with the inner workings of the internet, and the registration process can feel like buying a used car, as companies try to tack on add-ons to a domain registration bill.

The domains play is also a chance for Google to promote services from its Google Cloud Platform to companies that end up needing to scale beyond the capabilities of a traditional hosting provider.

Today’s news comes as GoDaddy is working to promote itself as a company that provides services to small business looking to get on the web. The company, which has an engineering office in Seattle, recently filed for its IPO.

Users who want to try out Google Domains can request an invitation code by entering a domain they want into the service’s website, and then clicking on the resulting “I’d like to request an invitation code” link.

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  • Lenoxus

    I found this article by searching for “google hosting or domain registration” wondering if I would find anyone explaining why they didn’t already do this. Crazy coincidence.

  • Burrito Con Carne

    “Google’s small-business division decided to launch the project, because the company found 55 percent of small businesses don’t already have a website.”

    What often goes unsaid, is, that with the combination of Facebook and Twitter, many small businesses don’t need a standalone website. If spending money to register a domain – and if you’re not getting foot traffic from a 10 year old notion of internet advertising – isn’t cost effective, then why bother to have a website.

    I would guess that a significant number of those “55 percent of small businesses” don’t really need a website. I would further guess that each and everyday, mom and pop businesses are increasingly shown by the more tech savvy members of their families that Facebook and Twitter (and to a lesser extent foursquare and other services) can be much more effective than having a 2003 mindset of saying, “gee, we need a website.”

    I think that this is the under-the-radar essence of the battle between Facebook and Google. They’ll tell you that it’s about ad revenue, but I think that in the next 2 to 4 years it’ll be more about this – whether small businesses even agree that having a standalone “indexible” website is even worth the cost and effort.

    That said, Google will try to grab as many of those “55 percent of small businesses” who want to purchase a domain name as they can – and you’ll notice it’s not about the business of selling domain names – it’ll be more about selling other services.

    This is an interesting area to watch – thanks to Geekwire for writing about this.

    • Dave

      For small businesses, owning a domain and having a professional looking email is well worth the trivial dollar investment. The difference between “billspainting@gmail” and can be significant when forming a gut instinct on a vendor. Google Apps makes it easy to provision an email account. Partnering with Wix and others to make website setup easy seems very smart. I’d expect with Google Apps and $75 per year (GApps plus domain cost), plus the free Wix, an half an hour or an hour of time, even the smallest business could have something that looked professional.

      Even if indexing isn’t helpful, it still lends an easy professional appearance to a business.

  • Luka Malding

    where were you when google killed the industry? This post explains how google will kill the industry! :

  • Laslo P Bir

    anyone have an invite code to post?

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