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Google Domains Beta — First Look & Review

January 22, 2015

Google Domains, currently in beta, is a new domain registration service from Google. The service offers a competitive feature set with a simple and easy to use interface. I received an invite to Google Domains early last week, and have since transferred a few domains over. In this first look and review, I’ll take you behind the scenes and share some of my thoughts on Google Domains.

The current beta version of Google Domains lets support domain purchase and transfer. Here’s what the interface looks like…

All of the major functions you’ll need are organized in five tabs.

  • Configure Website
  • Configure Email
  • Configure DNS
  • Contact Information, Privacy, and Lock
  • Registration and Transfer Out

Configure Website lets you easily build a website on a number of different platforms including Shopify, Weebly, Blogger, SquareSpace, and Wix. Domain-related settings will be automatically configured if you choose one of these services. Since my website runs on a self-hosted WordPress install, there isn’t anything to configure in this menu.

Configure Email lets you set up email forwarding for your domain name. This is a great feature for people who don’t want to sign up for a paid email service. With email forwarding configured, you can receive emails sent to [email protected] in any account want. This service only works if you use Google’s default name servers.

Configure DNS lets you configure name servers and DNS zone records. In the past, I’ve used both GoDaddy and Bluehost for registration. I’ve found their domain and DNS management dashboards to be slow and unintuitive. Fortunately, Google Domains offers a totally opposite experience. The interface is very intuitive and responsive.

Contact Information, Privacy, and Lock lets you lock/unlock your domain, configure WHOIS privacy options, and change public and private contact information.

Registration and Transfer Out let’s you renew your domain registration (auto-renew can be turned on) and activate a transfer process to another registrar.

Registering a New Domain Name

Google Domains offers a good selection of TLDs (top level domains), ccTLDs (country code TLDs), and gTLDs (generic TLDs). Pricing for TLDs (.com, .net, .org). ccTLDs (.us) , and select gTLDs (.info, .biz) are $12/year. Pricing for other gTLDs varies depending on the chosen extension.

At $12/year, Google Domains definitely doesn’t offer the cheapest domain registration. With that said, Google Domains does include free private registration on all domain registrations and transfers, which is typically a $5 – $10/year fee at other registrars.

The Google Domains registration process is super easy. Type your domain name into the search bar, and Google will let you know if it’s available. If it’s not, alternate suggestions will be given. The extensions tool on the left side of the screen lets you choose from a selection of TLDs.

The streamlined checkout process is something that other domain registrars should strive for. All you need to do is specify contact information, select public or private registration, and pay with Google Wallet. Not being bombarded by limited-time offers, add-ons, etc. is a welcome change.

Transferring an Existing Domain Name

Transferring a domain to Google Domains from another registrar is also a quick and painless process. Like any transfer process, there are a few standard steps.

  • Unlock your domain at the old registrar.
  • Verify contact information.
  • Enter in transfer code at the new registrar.
  • Authorize the transfer.

The first thing I did when I got access to Google Domains was transfer BrianLi.com over from Bluehost. The past few months, I’ve been slowly transferring all my domains and web hosting from Bluehost to other companies. This seemed like a good time to finally transfer BrianLi.com over to another registrar. The process was super simple and took less than 15 minutes to complete. I did have to pay $12 for a one-year renewal and private registration, but my previous renewal (through January 2018) from Bluehost carried over.

Conclusion

Google Domains isn’t the cheapest registrar around, but the free private registration and streamlined modern interface is something that no other registrar (that I’ve used) offers. The quick checkout process, free of spammy add-on offers, is honestly a breath of fresh air. It’s important to remember that Google Domains is still in beta, which means it only gets better from here. I’m sure more features will be added in the future, but I hope Google maintains this streamlined and no-frills approach to domain registration.


Questions?

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