People 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, Wix.com 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.