A domain name must be registered in order for it to be used by your business, and there are a number of providers offering this service. We reviewed the top domain name registrars to find the four absolute best—including the best overall. We identified options that offer competitively priced domains and those that come with the features and tools businesses need, such as free domain name privacy, business email, security tools, and quality support.
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 2021
Best overall domain name registrar
Best for buying multiple domains
Best for those building a site with WordPress
Best for budget-strapped startups
Standout features: -Transparent pricing -Free domain privacy -Best business email service
Standout features: -Great bulk discounts available -Free domain name privacy
Standout features: -Plans start at $2.95 per month
Standout features: -Ultra-low-cost intro prices at $1 per year -One free business email account
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 dizzying 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:
- Domain extension selection
- Ease of use
- Customer service
- Content management system (CMS) compatibility
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 come with extra features built in, such as domain name privacy.
Google Domains: Best Overall Domain Name Registrar
Google Domains is the best domain name registrar for businesses that want competitively priced domains. It has transparent pricing that doesn’t increase upon annual renewals. Top-level domains, such as a .com, cost $12 per year and are a good value as they include free domain name privacy. It also offers a number of other domain extensions (e.g., .net, .org, .io, and .us) for varying prices.
Here is a closer look at all the features you get with Google Domains:
- Various domain extensions: Google Domains offers a number of domain extensions to choose from, so no matter which extension you’re looking for, you can get it with Google.
- Domain privacy included: Namecheap offers WHOIS Guard privacy protection for free with domain purchases.
- Domain lock (aka registrar lock): Namecheap offers a free registrar lock for each purchased domain, which automatically protects your domain against unauthorized domain transfers or “hijacking.”
- Business email: Easily connect your domain from Google to Google Workspace to have a professional email that uses your own domain (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org). Learn more about using Google for business email.
Interested in business email, but don’t have the budget for Google Workspace? Opt instead for a domain through Bluehost, which comes with five free business email addresses and a free domain name with its low-cost plan for just $2.95 per month.
Hover: Best for Registering Multiple Domains at Once
Hover is fairly new to the domain name registration space, and it stands out for its inclusion of free domain name privacy and bulk discounts. Even if you’re not in the market for multiple domains, keep in mind that companies often use bulk registration to buy different extensions of the same website address to prevent competitors from building a brand off of them. That said, it’s the best choice for budget-conscious businesses looking to purchase multiple domains.
Here is a closer look at Hover’s domain name registration and email features:
- Domain extensions: Hover offers .net and .com extensions, along with hundreds of more unique domain extensions. Niche domain extensions, for example, include .investments, .art, and .attorney, while location extensions include .berlin, .barcelona, and .boston.
- Domain privacy included: Hover offers free domain privacy with each domain, which conceals your address, phone number, and email address when your domain is listed in the public WHOIS domain name database. This protects you against spam and unsolicited calls.
- Transfer lock: You can lock your domains so unauthorized people cannot transfer them, protecting your domain name from being stolen.
- Auth codes: This is a code assigned to your domain to create a second layer of security against unauthorized transfers. If you purchase this service, you would have to supply an auth code in order to transfer your domain to a new registrar.
- Business email: You must purchase a business email account separate from your domain, but it is very affordable at just $20 per year per account with 10GB of storage.
If you’re not planning to register more than one domain name and you don’t need a business email, your better bet is to use Google Domains. It also includes domain name privacy for free, and it’s a bit cheaper at $12 per year.
Bluehost: Best for Getting a Free Domain With WordPress Web Hosting
Bluehost may be best known for its web hosting services, but it’s the best way to get a free domain name for businesses that are also building a WordPress website. This is because you’ll need web hosting for your WordPress site, and its low-cost plans that start at $2.95 per month include a number of extras, such as a free domain, a free SSL certificate, free business email, and one-click WordPress installation to easily connect your domain to WordPress.
Here’s a closer look at Bluehost’s features:
- Domain registration: Purchase your domain name directly from Bluehost.
- Extensions: Bluehost offers .com, .net, .org, .us, .biz, and .info domain extensions. However, it doesn’t offer a lot of the extensions some registrars like HostGator offer, including industry and location-specific extensions.
- Domain privacy: When you buy a domain through Bluehost, you can also add domain privacy for $.99 per month, a much better price than HostGator’s.
- Domain lock: Domain lock adds another layer of security by keeping your domain name from being transferred to a website by any unauthorized person.
- SSL certificate: It is a common practice to have an SSL certificate installed on a professional website for added security and user data protection.
- Email: Get a free business email with the purchase of a web hosting plan.
- Web hosting: The entry-level plan offers 50GB of website storage, not quite as much as what HostGator offers in its most basic web hosting plan. Its larger plans offer unlimited website storage.
Like the idea of getting a free domain name through your web hosting provider but don’t want to sign up for a long-term plan? Try DreamHost instead, which offers similarly priced plans and a comprehensive list of features, but with short-term plans.
1&1 IONOS: Ultra-low Introductory Domain Prices
1&1 IONOS provides a range of services—from domain name registration to web hosting and marketing. It offers ultra-low .com domains for $1 for the first year and then $15 per year upon renewal. A domain purchase comes with a matching email address, domain privacy, and domain lock. It is best for businesses that are just starting out and are working with extremely limited budgets.
Here is a closer look at 1&1 IONOS’ domain features:
- Extensions: 1&1 IONOS offers a very long list of domain extensions—from the more common .com, .net, and .org to more unique domain extensions like .boutique, .catering, and .finance.
- Domain privacy: To hide your personal contact information and prevent spam and identity theft, 1&1 IONOS offers free domain privacy when you sign up for a one-year registration.
- Domain lock: This feature ensures your domain cannot be transferred without your authorization. A domain can only be unlocked or locked when you log into your password-protected 1&1 IONOS account and unlock it.
- Domain transfers: Domains can be transferred to 1&1 IONOS for free. Unlike HostGator, each domain is automatically renewed at full price for one year the day you transfer it to 1&1 IONOS, instead of after your existing registration period ends.
- Domain forwarding: Like GoDaddy, 1&1 IONOS allows you to link your domain name to an ecommerce platform like Etsy or platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Preregistration: If you know that a domain extension is soon to hit the market, you can preregister for a domain using that extension.
- Business email: 1&1 IONOS offers a free matching email address with each domain name you register. For larger businesses, they have a $2 per month email plan that comes with 25 matching email addresses and a free lifetime domain.
Keep in mind that if you need more than one business email address, the better deal is to opt for Bluehost, as its plan for $2.95 per month includes a free domain name and up to five free business email addresses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which is better: .com or .net?
Both .com and .net are top-level domains (aka 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).
The best overall domain name registrar for those who only need to purchase a domain is Google Domains. 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 its hosting plans that cost as little as $2.95 per month.