Google Domains Review – The Good and The Bad for 2023
Google has officially shut down its domain registration service and is no longer accepting new registrations. All domains previously registered with Google Domains are migrating to Squarespace.
Read on to learn more about what happened to Google Domains and how this migration will impact your domain name.
Comparing Google Domains to the Best Domain Registrars
With Google Domains shut down, you’ll need to use another domain registrar for your registration needs. Here are our top recommendations:
We spent a lot of time chasing down and testing the best domain registrar services. We then came up with a list of the seven best options that will work for the majority of people. We know the importance of having a domain name purchase that is easy to complete, that goes smoothly, and that delivers a high level of services at a great price. We believe you will be able to use the information in our list to find the perfect domain registrar for your needs. See all of our top picks here.
What Happened to Google Domains?
As of September 7, 2023, Squarespace acquired all domain registrations from Google Domains. This comes less than three months after Google entered a definitive agreement with Squarespace for the domains acquisition—which was announced on June 15, 2023.
What This Means For New Customers
Google no longer offers new domain registrations. So if you’re currently in the market for a new domain name, you can’t use Google Domains.
Google Domains is referring its customers to Squarespace. But that’s not a requirement for new registrations. You can refer to our reviews of the best domain registrars for alternative options (and Squarespace did not make our list).
What This Means For Existing Google Domains Customers
If you previously registered a domain name through Google Domains, you should have already been notified about the upcoming transition. But here are the key takeaways that you need to know:
- Squarespace is now officially the registrar of record for your domain name.
- Google will continue to manage your domain during the transition period, which will likely take several months.
- Your domain name and DNS designation will continue working throughout the transition.
- Once your Google Domains account has officially transitioned to Squarespace, you’ll manage it through your new Squarespace account.
- Your billing information will also be migrated to Squarespace.
There is no immediate action that you need to take right now. Just keep an eye on your inbox for any instructions from Google or Squarespace, and for more information on when your account will officially be migrated.
If you don’t want to move to Squarespace, you can migrate your domain to another registrar of your choosing either before the transition or after.
Google Domains: The Good and the Bad
Transparent pricing: It’s easy to see exactly what you will be paying for the domain name you want to register, as Google Domains charges you a clear price. It bases its price on the domain extension you select. Google Domains does not have hidden costs that you will only discover at the time of checkout, such as the small fee that ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) charges for domain name registration tracking.
You do have the option of making add-on service purchases through Google Domains, which could complicate the pricing structure. However, the base pricing for simply purchasing the domain name registration with Google Domains is very easy to understand, which isn’t the case with all registrars.
Very easy signup: As with many Google services, signing up for your domain name with Google Domains is extremely easy. You can select your domain name and pay for it within a few minutes.
Google makes this process extremely easy for anyone, including those who don’t have any technical experience or history of registering domains. So even if it’s your first time buying and registering a domain, you can use Google Domains without feeling overwhelmed.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) included: With your Google Domains account, you automatically gain access to 2FA protection for your account.
For many other web services, 2FA is only offered at higher-tier plan levels. So it’s nice to see this included with every Google Domains account. This extra level of protection helps prevent unauthorized users from taking control or transferring your domain.
Use of Google DNS servers included: When you select Google Domains to register your domain, you will gain access to the same DNS servers that Google itself uses for its search engine. This means the DNS servers are highly reliable and run fast. This is one of the best free perks you receive with Google Domains versus other domain registrars. Others may charge you extra for premium DNS server access for your website.
Access to Google Workspace included: You can add a Google Workspace account to your domain name registration. This gives you cloud storage and an email address that matches your new domain name, as well as a few other features. This can give your site a more professional feel than just using a Gmail account.
However, it’s worth noting that you’ll have to pay extra to link a Google Workspace account to your domain name. The extra cost is still well worth it for any business or professional use domain.
Free privacy features: When you register a domain name, your name and contact information automatically become part of Whois. This is a record-keeping system that identifies the owner of every domain name. Although this publicly available information through the ICANN Lookup has good intentions, it also can lead to you receiving spam and unwanted sales pitches.
With Google Domains, you have the option of selecting privacy protection when you register your domain. This service is free with Google Domains, which will submit generic contact information to Whois. Some domain registrars offer privacy protection for an annual fee.
Up to 100 subdomains allowed: When you register a domain name with Google Domains, you receive access to up to 100 subdomains. Some website owners like to use subdomains to sort their content while keeping all of it under the umbrella of the main domain. These subdomains are free with Google Domains, while some other domain registrars charge extra for the ability to make use of subdomains.
No discounted pricing: Unlike some competitors, Google Domains does not offer a first-year discount, nor does it offer discounts for paying for multiple years in advance. If you are just looking to try out a domain for a low first-year price to see if it takes off, you may want to seek out a registrar that offers big discounts to new customers.
Some competitors even offer a free first-year domain name when you purchase their web hosting services at the same time you purchase the domain name. Google Domains does not have this option, as it does not offer direct web hosting services.
Higher than average prices: The domain registration process with Google Domains typically will carry a higher price point than what’s available with other domain registrar services. When you are seeking a non-standard domain name ending, the price difference between Google Domains and other registrars can be significant, so you may want to shop around for the best price before selecting the domain registrar you want to use.
Web hosting is separate: Unlike some of the best domain registrars, Google Domains does not offer web hosting services directly related to its domain name registration process. You can purchase web hosting from a Google Domains third-party partner if you want, but not directly from Google Domains. This adds a layer of complexity to building your website that you may dislike.
If you use Google Sites to build your website after registering your domain with Google Domains, then web hosting is included for free. However, this workaround definitely sacrifices quality—as Google Sites just doesn’t match the best site builders and hosting providers on the market. So it’s not something we recommend for business use.
Not available worldwide: With Google Domains, you will need to have a billing address that fits in one of the roughly two dozen countries that it supports. If you live in a country that is not part of the Google Domains support area, you cannot use Google Domains. Countries like Finland, Portugal, Russia, and South Korea are among those not on the Google Domains list of supported countries.
Google Domains Pricing and Options
If you choose to make use of the Google Domains registrar, you typically are going to pay a higher than average price. We do appreciate that Google Domains states its pricing clearly, as long as you have fairly simple requirements. When you have multiple add-on requirements, though, the pricing can become complex.
Google Domains starts its pricing based on the domain extension that you select. Google Domains offers more than 300 different domain extension options. For some of the most common and popular domain extensions, your annual cost with Google Domains is:
- .com: $12
- .org: $12
- .net: $12
- .dev: $12
- .app: $14
- .info: $12
- .photography: $20
- .video: $20
- .club: $13
- .team: $40
- .salon: $50
- .store: $50
- .accountants: $120
- .farm: $30
- .bar: $80
Google Domains publishes a full list of domain extension costs that the service offers. You do not receive any discount for your first year of service for any of the domain extensions through Google Domains.
Google Domains Checkout
At the time of checkout, you can choose to register and reserve your new domain name for anywhere from one to 10 years. There is no discount for paying in advance for multiple years, however. You must select a minimum of one year.
Also at checkout, you can choose whether you want to participate in Google Domains’ automatic renewal service. If you choose auto-renewal, Google Domains will automatically charge your payment method on the date the domain name will expire. If you choose not to participate in auto-renewal, you will have to remember to pay for the domain name before the expiration date to maintain control of it.
Google Workspace Subscription
You can add a Google Workspace subscription to your Google Domains domain name registration cost during checkout. The payment tiers available in Google Workspace are:
- Business Starter: For $6 per user per month, you’ll receive a custom email address; 30 GB of cloud storage per user; access to Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets; and video meetings for up to 100 participants.
- Business Standard: For $12 per user per month, you’ll receive everything in Business Starter, as well as 2 TB of cloud storage per user, video meetings for up to 150 participants, and video meeting recording capabilities.
- Business Plus: For $18 per user per month, you’ll receive everything in Business Standard, as well as 5 TB of cloud storage per user, enhanced security controls, enhanced administrative controls, video meetings for up to 250 participants, and video meeting recording and attendance tracking capabilities.
Google Sites and Third-Party Website Builders
If you want to have help with building your website, Google Domains offers free tools that you can use to build the site yourself. You can use Google Sites to build your domain with a drag-and-drop editor.
Google Sites comes with responsive layouts and creative themes. You can start with a pre-designed template and customize everything from there. Hosting is also included for free when you use Google Sites to publish your website, so there’s no need to get hosting elsewhere.
Alternatively, Google Domains also provides access to its partnered website builders. The costs for using these website builders can vary quite a bit, depending on the features you need and the builder you select.
If you’re planning to use Google Domains to register a domain before connecting it with a third-party builder, you can refer to our reviews of the best website builders to find the best option for you.
Buying Existing Domain Names
Google Domains can help you find a domain name that an owner is offering for resale if you would rather buy an existing domain than start your own. But it’s on you to reach out to the owner directly if the website isn’t currently listed for sale.
If a domain is already registered but the owner wants to sell, you’ll likely it available as an aftermarket domain.
But aftermarket domains typically carry a far larger initial price than starting your own domain.
However, when you need to renew the domain in subsequent years through Google Domains, you will pay the standard renewal price based on your domain extension. So the higher price tag reflects a one-time purchase.
Google Domains Insights
After you select your desired domain name, Google Domains will first make sure the name is available. It then gives you some information on the name you selected.
In the Insights section of this information window, you will receive a list of advantages and potential disadvantages of selecting this name. Some of the items Google Domains will consider when delivering these recommendations include:
- Length: Google Domains will recommend whether your requested domain name is too long for users to easily remember.
- Memorability: You’ll receive recommendations on whether the domain name will be catchy or will be tough to remember for users.
- Complexity: Is your domain name going to be difficult for users to type correctly, because it misspells common words or adds non-alphabetic characters, like hyphens? You’ll receive recommendations on this from Google Domains.
Google Domains may even give you information on whether the domain name might have an offensive meaning for some visitors.
Google Domains Suggested Names
If Google Domains believes that there are other options for your domain name that may work better than your requested name, it will list them in the Suggested Names area of the aforementioned information window. If you prefer one of these names to the name you requested, you can add this name to your cart from this window.
When Google Domains delivers a large number of suggested domain names, you can click the drop-down menu on the right side to sort the names by:
- Name by ascending alphabetical order
- Name by descending alphabetical order
Google Domains Business Protection Features
When you want to have the ability to scale your domain and website traffic easily, while also protecting it from potential attacks, Google Domains offers a few different features to help you.
- DNS threat protection: Google Domains includes support for DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions), which decreases the chance of your website being involved in an attack. DNSSEC authenticates the origination of the data from your website and protects users from receiving forged DNS data.
- Google DNS servers: By giving you access to Google’s high-quality DNS servers for your website when you register your domain name with Google Domains, it’s easier to seamlessly scale the traffic at your website when your business grows.
- Privacy protection: As part of your domain name registration cost, Google Domains will keep your name and contact information private on Whois, reducing the chance of you receiving spam and other unwanted messages.
Google Domains Reports
When you register your domain name through Google Domains, you will receive access to a report about the performance of your website. You can select a certain date range when you want to study the performance over a limited time period. Some of the information you will receive in the report include:
- Total number of times someone saw your website in a search result (also called impressions)
- Total number of clicks through to your website
- Highest ranked searches that led to your website
- Types of devices accessing your website (mobile, tablet, or computer)
- Country of origin of people accessing your website
- Most popular pages on your website for impressions
- Most popular pages on your website for clicks
How Google Domains Ranks
Google Domains did not make our list of the top domain registrars. It has some strong features, but its cost structure typically is more expensive than those services on our list of the 7 best domain registrars.
We didn’t rank it highly because there’s nothing that stands out. Getting a domain is easy, fast, and secure, but you’ll have to get web hosting somewhere else. Our top picks bundle everything you need into a single price–and that price is often lower than Google, which is just a domain name.
Ultimately, Google Domains successfully offers the primary feature that you want from a domain registrar—the ability to register your domain name—in an easy-to-use format with transparent pricing. If all you want are the basics, we would recommend Google Domains. However, if you want some key add-ons, such as the ability to integrate website building, or if you want the lowest prices for registering your domain, other domain registrars outperform Google Domains.