Google Targets Internet Domains

By Matthew Hicks  |  Print this article Print


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Updated: The search company tackles another core technology of the Internet—domain names—as it becomes an official registrar. But for now, the company says it won't be selling registrations.

Google Inc. is continuing to expand its Internet aspiration, this time by adding the title "domain-name registrar" to its list of roles.

Google on Friday officially became a registrar after completing a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit body that oversees the Domain Name System, ICANN officials confirmed.

ICANN's approval is only a first step. Google also must negotiate terms with the registries that manage the domains before it can sell registrations. For the .com and .net domains, for example, Google is not listed on the Web site of registry VeriSign Inc. as a registrar. VeriSign officials could not immediately verify Google's status.

So far, Google appears to be less interested in registering new domain names and more interested in using its domain-name role to help its Web search.

"Google has become a domain name registrar to learn more about the Internet's domain name system," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "While we have no plans to register domains at this time, we believe this information can help us increase the quality of our search results."

The spokesperson declined to offer more details on Google's registrar plans. Google's registrar status was first noted on the Weblog Lextext.

Along with .com and .net, Google is authorized as a registrar for names in the .biz, .info, .name, .org and .pro domains.

Google does offer services where domain names play a significant role. For example, it hosts Weblogs through its Blogger service. Those blogs typically have a domain name within the blogspot.com domain, though Blogger also lets bloggers use their own domain names when they host their blogs themselves.

Google also is testing its own e-mail service, Gmail. While Web-based e-mail providers typically use a single domain, such as gmail.com, for e-mail addresses, others also offer premium services that use specific domain names.

Google competitors Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., among others, already offer domain-name registration services. While not official ICANN registrars, they provide name registrations as part of their Web hosting and small business services.

Click here to read more about Yahoo's domain-name offerings.

"Google has a habit of doing things that make you wonder 'What does that have to do with anything else that they're working on?'" said Andy Beal, vice president of search marketing at WebSourced Inc. "And over a couple of months it begins to make sense."

Beal said that being a domain-name registrar could help Google in another core area of its business: advertising. By registering domains at a low cost, Google could reach more businesses to sell its AdWords sponsored-link ads, he said.

Click here to read more about Google opening AdWords to developers.

"They would be able to get in front of business owners at the birth of their Web site," Beal said.

Google already offers a service to domain-name holders. Called AdSense for domains, the program places Google's AdSense contextual ads on parked-domain pages, which are essentially placeholder pages for yet-to-be used Web addresses.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to include details about the domains for which Google is an authorized registrar.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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