Google Apps for Business is a suite of online tools built to help companies and their employees communicate and collaborate more effectively. You get professional email, shared calendars, video meetings, documents, online storage and a bunch of other tools in one homogeneous platform. If you have a personal Gmail account, you have probably already used the free version of Google Apps, which includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive/Docs and Google Sites, but with the $50 per year and person paid Business version, you get to use your own website domain for email addresses and sub-domained intranet websites.
You may say: “So if Google offers this service, why don’t they also provide domain hosting services so I don’t have to sign up for that with yet another vendor?” Well, Google is indeed going in that direction with their recently launched invite-only beta Google Domain Hosting Service. When Google Domains launches to the public, you’ll be able to buy and sell domains through the service.
As a young magazine with nothing to loose, already running Goggle Apps for Business, we dove in and transferred our Nifty Magazine domain from GoDaddy to Google Domains. Here is our take after hosting our domain with Google for a week:
Offered at $12 per year, pricing is about the same as you can get with most domain hosting companies, including GoDaddy who has been a Google partner for Google Apps since 2006. But unlike most domain registration offerings, Google won’t charge you extra to register your domain privately. See “Non-aggressive upselling” below.
Again, nothing revolutionary. Google Domains works like any other hosting service; for finding or buying a domain, as well as for transferring an existing one. Google points out that the service is not fully featured yet, one appreciated feature is that you can create up to 100 connected email accounts with email forwarding to your main email address as well as 100 sub-domains. This feature is also included in Google Apps for Business but can be used in case you don’t go Google all the way. Google will also naturally use their own DNS servers, so page load times are very responsive.
While the Google Domains service is introduced in order to make it easier for small businesses to represent themselves on the internet, Google will not be offering website hosting services … at least not at this time. Rather, Google has signed partnership agreements with a number of companies that can provide design and hosting services for websites, in order to further simplify the process of getting on the internet.
Anyone who has previously bought a domain know that the domain registrars and hosted DNS providers are upselling customers on various extra services. Most of us appreciate upselling as long as it provides value to us, but in a world of razor-thin margins, vendors tend to be very aggressive to the point where you’re left with a bad customer experience. The customer experience with Google Domains has been very nice and the free domain privacy service is very appreciated.
Google has not announced when the Domains service will go public, but if you’re an early adopter, go to the Google Domains Home Page, then click on “Manage my domains” and follow the instructions to request an invite code.