This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
Domain registration is the first step to take when building a website. And to launch your small business website successfully, you need to find a trusted domain registrar. The best domain registrars are cost-efficient, secure, and should also provide quality support. They also have value-added features, like web hosting and advanced security features. In this article, we’ve shortlisted the top domain registrar to help you find the perfect choice.
Here are the top four domain registrar services:
- Google Domains: Best overall domain name registrar in terms of security, support, and domain options
- Hover: Excellent domain name registrar for website owners needing multiple domain registrations
- Bluehost: Perfect domain name registrar for websites built on WordPress due to its integration and optional web hosting
- IONOS: Great budget-friendly domain name registrar for websites that are on a tight budget
Pro tip: You may be eligible for a free domain name through your web hosting provider or site builder plan. Learn more about getting a free domain and building your small business website.
Top 4 Domain Registrars in 2022
Starting Price per Year for a .com
$7 per year
$4.99 per year
Free with web hosting for $2.95 per month
$1 for the first year, then $15 per year
Email forwarding, one-click DNSSEC
Domain and email management tools, easy setup
Domain management panel, domain lock, domain forwarding
Free 2GB email address, private registration, free domain transfer, one-click activation
Uses DNS servers, Google 2-step verification
WHOIS privacy included in each domain
WHOIS privacy, “Privacy + Protection” add-on
Free Wildcard SSL
Email support, forums, FAQ, dedicated chat support
FAQ, dedicated call support
FAQ, dedicated chat support
FAQ, dedicated chat support
Over 300 domain endings (e.g., .com, .org, .photography, .money)
Hundreds of domain endings
Up to 10,000 subdomains
Learn what is a domain name and why they are so important for your business.
Google Domains: Best Overall Domain Name Registrar
Google Domains offers in-demand domains, like the popular .com, starting at just $7 per year. The domain name registrar is well integrated with other Google tools, which makes managing your domain extremely easy from your Google account. Google Domains, however, might not be as cheap as IONOS or Bluehost (depending on the domain ending).
Hover: Best for Registering Multiple Domains at Once
Hover is a domain name registrar that works best for businesses owning multiple websites. This domain name registrar makes the process easier and allows you to choose however many domains you want. Its selection might be a bit too extreme for some website owners, however, unlike Bluehost that focuses on the .com, .tech, .org, and other popular domains.
Hover lacks a free email, unlike Bluehost that includes 2GB email addresses. In order to get a business email with your domain, you’ll have to purchase it separately for $20 a year with 10GB of storage included. This option is not the most efficient for single domain registrations.
Bluehost: Best Domain Name Registrar for WordPress
Bluehost is known for its web hosting services—offering a free domain for a year. However, it should be better known as the best domain name registrar when working with WordPress. It is the closest to an all-in-one service offering domains, web hosting, emails, and VPS hosting. The problem with Bluehost is that the additional security services require the “Privacy + Protection” add-on, costing $11.88 a year.
If you don’t have the budget for added security features, consider IONOS as an alternative. It offers a free Wildcard SSL with its domains, adding to the security of your website. Although Bluehost web hosting plans also offer this, should you choose different hosting, you won’t get a free SSL (unless the web hosting also offers a free SSL).
IONOS: Ultra-low Introductory Domain Prices
IONOS is perfect for starting a website due to its extremely low fees. What makes this the best domain registrar for starting businesses is that for the first year, you’ll get the cheapest domain you can purchase. It also comes with a free 2GB email address and free transfer (should you decide to switch from Bluehost or Google Domains).
IONOS has high renewal rates, making it hard for website owners in the long run, unlike Google Domains at a standard price of $7 per month. It also doesn’t specify its WHOIS privacy (security measures), but offers a free Wildcard SSL.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which is better: .com or .net?
Both .com and .net are top-level domains (TLDs). However, each domain represents a different type of business. The .com extension is short for commercial, meaning any sort of business or enterprise, whereas the .net is short for network, representing the technology or web services industry. If you’re still on the fence, get more information on .com vs .net.
What do I do if my desired domain name isn’t available?
Domains are notoriously challenging to find, so if you’re seeking a fairly common or very short domain, chances are it’s already taken. In this case, try adding a keyword, location, or verb. For example, a cafe named Sunrise Cafe might try sunrisecoffee.com, sunrisetampa.com, or drinksunrise.com. For more inspiration, check out these domain name ideas.
What is domain name privacy & is it worth it?
Domain name privacy is typically offered as an add-on for an additional fee when registering a domain name. It keeps the contact information used to register the domain private. In other words, no one will be able to see the contact information by searching for your domain. It’s great for reducing spam and junk mail, but it’s ideal for online-based businesses that want to keep their physical addresses private (especially home-based businesses).
How We Evaluated the Best Domain Name Registrars
It’s vital to get the right domain name for your business website, and with so many ways to register a domain, it can be confusing to figure out which is right for you. In this article, we reviewed and analyzed the top domain name registrars based on factors that matter most to small businesses.
We evaluated each provider based on the following criteria:
- Pricing: Each web hosting provider should not start higher than $10 for each domain. Some domain endings are more expensive than others, and we made sure each of the best domain registrar services offer cheaper options.
- Ease of use: We removed highly complicated domain name registrars that require multiple steps (and confusing setup practices) to get a domain.
- Customer service: Every domain name registrar on this list has to be reachable and based on reviews, we made sure issues were resolved.
- Security: All of the domain name registrar services on this list have to offer a significant amount of security features, including verification steps, WHOIS privacy, and a free SSL (for IONOS only).
After considering the above criteria, we found that Google Domains is the best overall domain registrar for small businesses. This is due to its transparency and competitively priced domains that offer a variety of domain name extensions to choose from along with extra features built-in, such as domain name privacy.
The best overall domain name registrar—for those who only need to purchase a domain—is Google Domains based on the security, support, and domain options it offers. However, if you plan to build a website or need additional business tools and services, such as business email, the best value is choosing a low-cost, yet feature-rich web hosting plan like Bluehost. It includes a free domain and free business email with Bluehost’s hosting plans that cost as little as $2.95 per month for a 12-month contract.