Google Domains and GoDaddy, two of the most popular domain name registrars online, are both well-known. I have written extensively about Google Domains, and compared GoDaddy with Namecheap (their big competitor). How do they compare?
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Domain registrars are an industry that is unique. Registrars are essentially bookkeepers. ICANN issues all domains. This leaves little room for registrars to offer different products. You only need a domain that you can associate to a server where you data lives.
However, not all domain registrars work the same. This is why I guess you are reading this post. I have tried many and had every problem possible. There is no “best” or “cheapest” domain registrar. Everyone has their own tradeoffs. Google and GoDaddy both have very different approaches to domain registration.
Google Domains launched me as Day One customer. I have been a customer and consultant for GoDaddy for over 10 years.
Company structure is crucial for long-term projects. A publicly traded company will offer different incentives to an investor-funded startup than one that is privately funded. A product that makes a direct profit will be treated differently from a product that adds to a company’s main profit center.
Google and GoDaddy are well-known companies, but they have very different domains.
Both Google and GoDaddy are publicly traded companies. Both companies answer to shareholders’ short- and long-term profit demands.
GoDaddy was established as a domain registrar. Their specialty is domains. They have expanded to become an online business services provider in recent years. GoDaddy Domain products now make up part of their profit puzzle. Domains are still a “thing” for GoDaddy but they are losing market share to other products like GoCentral website builder and GoDaddy web hosting. Bookkeeping and email are also part of their profit puzzle.
GoDaddy wants to sell you a domain. They know you will buy more stuff once you have it.
Google is not a domain registration company, they are an advertising company. Google makes their money by selling highly targeted ads that are based on data no one else has. Domains are not their “thing”. Google is more concerned about your loyalty and data than any other company in the world. Google also needs websites to be available on the open Web.
Google’s biggest loss is if you run your business on Facebook and Instagram, but never log into Google. Google recently started making money from Enterprise & Business Services via the Cloud and G Workplace. However, this is a compliment to their data needs.
Google requires that you buy a domain to ensure that you have at least one website you can index on Google and to which you will likely run ads. You might also be able to buy Google Workplace if you purchase a domain through Google.
The Good: Both companies offer great deals. GoDaddy will offer crazy discounts to encourage you to buy. Google wants it all to be easy and simple.
The downside: Your domain is not an important concern for either company. GoDaddy doesn’t care about your domain unless you buy stuff. Google doesn’t know if they are interested in domains. Google Domains has been in beta for 5 years. It’s still in beta phase, meaning that Google could shut down the domain anytime without notice.
The Alternatives: You might be interested in:
Porkbun is an independent company that provides excellent support. Hover is very user-friendly. Namecheap offers excellent pricing and solid products.
Let’s take a look at the other factors that Google & GoDaddy have to offer if you like what they do.
Google Domains charges a flat fee for domains without any discounts or promotions. Although their renewal and upfront purchase prices are slightly higher than other domain registrars they are not excessively high. Google Domains pricing policy is straightforward and transparent.
Google Domains – Get a Domain
GoDaddy is different. Although their renewal pricing is more expensive than many direct competitors such as Namecheap or Hover, they offer deeper 1-year discounts than any other registrar I have ever used.
GoDaddy – Get a Domain
GoDaddy offers a membership program to people who have many domains. There is an annual fee but you can then renew hundreds of domains at great long-term pricing.
Google Domains is a better option if you intend to keep your domain for longer than 2 years.
GoDaddy’s current discount is a great way to save money. If you really want to save money, then you can take advantage of GoDaddy’s current discount and transfer your domain elsewhere at your end.
Since the ICANN domain name boom, vanity TLDs (top level domains) have been increasing in popularity. Although no TLD can replace.com or.org, niche TLDs and domain extensions might be worth the effort if your industry is crowded.
However, you cannot buy one from every registrar.
Both GoDaddy and Google have extensive lists of common TLDs. Google is the best choice for sheer selection (especially when it involves Premium domains or Auctions). Here’s Google:
GoDaddy now has 497 TLDs available to it as of 2021, compared to Google’s 274.
It isn’t a big issue, as you can check each one. However, if you plan on purchasing additional vanity domains or brand domains this is something you should consider.
It is unlikely that you will be actively managing domains every day. Domain management is, on the one hand, not very important. You will need to manage multiple domain purchase orders. Domain management is crucial.
Clear settings are essential. Good design is essential for interfaces.
Google Domains excels on this point almost to a fault.
Google Domains does not have any upsell, resell, push or sales options. The interface is simple. Google Material Design is used to design the product. It has simple interfaces and clear settings.
GoDaddy, however…has a little bit of a reputation.
Although interfaces have improved tremendously since 2013, GoDaddy’s interfaces still remain frustrating. Everything will be fine once you get them figured out. It can be difficult to locate complex settings, such as those required to set up Google Workspace Email. They have a product to sell at every turn (Premium DNS!). They also hide settings they don’t want (like the Authorization Code for leaving).
This is not a huge deal. A client of mine who has been using GoDaddy for fifteen years has had to make a change in a setting every time. I was able to do it the other time. GoDaddy is easy to use, cheap and a well-known big brand.
If you manage domains actively, you should choose Google Domains or Hover. They focus on user experience and simplicity.
WINNER: Google Domains
Support for Customers
Customer support for domains. It is one of those things that you do not really need until you absolutely need it.
Google Domains offers support in English and Spanish as well as French, Spanish, French and Japanese. You can reach them via phone, chat, or email at any hour of the day. This is pretty standard support.
GoDaddy offers support via chat, email, knowledgebase and phone. You can get local support depending on the GoDaddy subsidiary that you are associated with.
It’s anecdotal, but I have had a good experience with GoDaddy despite the usual mega-corp annoyances. Google has been great, but they are still building their team. They offered English support during business hours only a year ago.
Domains can’t be used as a standalone product. Domains by themselves can only point to one thing.
I love buying domains from domain registrars and then purchasing additional products (e.g. hosting, email, storage, etc). It’s a way to save money and add diversity to my setups. For example, if company X is having problems, it’s much easier to move if company Y seems fine.
This setup can be a bit frustrating. It is not something I recommend. It’s not a good idea for anyone who wants a simple setup that includes hosting, email, domains, and other services.
Google Domains doesn’t really offer a lot of complementary products, just like customer support. Google Domains can be integrated with Google Sites (Google’s free website builder), Blogger, Google’s blog service, and Google Workspace (Google’s business email & storage product). Google Domains bundles WHOIS domain privacy (i.e. private registration) with every domain, along with a DNS server.
Google doesn’t offer traditional shared hosting plans and its website builders are not available. Google also doesn’t offer any complementary products, such as a free SSL certificate.
GoDaddy’s complimentary products are their “thing”. They have every type of hosting, including Shared, Reseller and WordPress.
GoDaddy is the best company to do everything for you.
Google Domains is a solid choice if you’re looking for an integration company with email and will integrate your domain with third parties (ie a web host with WordPress websites).