Yup, Google is testing the waters on allowing Internet users to register domains with them. The new service, called Google Domains (currently in beta and by invite only) allows users to manage, transfer in, and buy domains from within Google’s system at domains.google.com. To introduce the service, Google is offering selected invitees the ability to purchase a domain for free as long as the domain is under $12 USD.
You may have received an email from Google Analytics with a 20-character code for free one-year registration.
As a test of this new service, I purchased (for free) the domain achristurner.com. I setup forwarding of the domain and it was active within 1 hour! Impressive… most impressive. The process was extremely simple and easy to navigate. You will find the standard options of registering in the process: auto renewing, domain forwarding, administrative contact, hosting options, privacy settings, and a few others. The platform is integrated with Gmail and uses the Google Wallet for purchasing.
Some users may find it interesting that once they complete the registration process, they will be immediately offered the options of using a template hosting site such as SquareSpace, Wix, Shopify, and Weebly. Although it is designated as ad space, where is WordPress or HostGator? They aren’t partners?!
I would have to say I am not surprised by this move. I think it has been a long time coming. Google has been providing businesses with Google Apps centered on helping streamline digital assets and the management of said assets; the timing of this move was just unexpected. But a good move seeing that the fiscal year starts in September.
That being the case, one can only speculate that there will be concerns with ‘extra’ (read: preferential) value being given to domains that are hosted by Google. Only time and SERPs will tell. Reviewing the Terms of Service, there are no indicators or areas of concern as much of the language mirrors the terminology used on all registrars.