Best Domain Registrars for Small Businesses: 2020

Trying to figure out which domain registrar is best can feel a lot like trying to spot a specific golden retriever in a crowd of golden retrievers—they all seem to have the same features, they all do pretty much the same thing, and unless you know specifically what you’re looking for, you’ll have a hard time telling them apart (much less knowing which is best for your business).

We here at zhulitouzi.com may not be golden retriever experts, but we do know a thing or two about registering a domain. In this review, we’ll tell you what domain registrars are the best—and what makes them stand out—so you can find the right one for you.

How we came up with our rankings
For our domain registrar rankings, we looked at a number of factors, including first-year registration cost, renewal cost, brand reputation, optional extras, and customer service helpfulness.

Best small business domain registration sites

zhulitouzi.com’s top domain name registrars

Company
Avg. starting price (for .com)
Avg. renewal price (for .com)
Web hosting offered?
Learn more

1&1 IONOS

$1/yr.*

$15/yr.

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Namecheap

$8.88/yr.

$12.98/yr.

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DreamHost

$8.99/yr.

$15.99/yr.

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GoDaddy

$11.99/yr.

$17.99/yr.

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Google Domains

$12/yr.

$12/yr.

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HostGator

$12.95/yr.

$17.99/yr.

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Name.com

$8.99/yr.

$12.99/yr.

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Domain.com

$9.99/yr.

$9.99/yr.

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Hover

$12.99/yr.

$14.99/yr.

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Dynadot

$8.25/yr.

$8.99/yr.

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Data effective 11/13/19. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change.

*Applies to new customers on their first domain purchase

**Applies to .com domain purchases only

Money
Domain pricing
In our reviews of the best domain registrars, we’ll show both the typical price for a traditional domain (ending in .com, in this case) and a premium domain (ending in .pizza, for example).

1&1 IONOS: Best overall for small business

Strengths
Pro Bullet Consistent pricing
Pro Bullet Free extras
Pro Bullet Other website products offered
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Annoying upselling
Con Bullet No online chat support

You may not have heard of 1&1 IONOS, but this registrar is super popular in Europe (and unlike your high school chum’s girlfriend in Canada, 1&1 is real). That’s largely thanks to its transparent pricing: it’s one of the only registrars that advertises renewal pricing on its front page. So if you want to know exactly how much your domain will cost next year, 1&1 IONOS makes it easy.

Speaking of cost, 1&1 now offers new customers $1 first-year registration for their first domain. And don’t worry, that doesn’t just apply to obscure domain extensions—the deal includes .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .me, and .club domains. Even if you no longer qualify for that deal, 1&1 still has competitive, straightforward pricing.

1&1 IONOS domain pricing

.com 1st-year cost
.com renewal cost
.pizza 1st-year cost
.pizza renewal cost
Learn more

$1/yr.

$15/yr.

$70/yr.

$70/yr.

.com 1st-year cost

$1/yr.

.com renewal cost

$15/yr.

.pizza 1st-year cost

$70/yr.

.pizza renewal cost

$70/yr.

Learn more

Data effective 11/13/19. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change.

But that’s not all 1&1 offers. It also includes a custom email address with any domain purchase, a free SSL certificate, and free WHOIS privacy protection—and that’s before you even get to its other product offerings, like hosting and advanced email.

With so much goodness to offer, it’s no wonder we’ve picked it as the best registrar for most small businesses.

Namecheap: Best for a pain-free buying experience

Strengths
Pro Bullet No aggressive upselling
Pro Bullet Plenty of available add-ons
Pro Bullet Competitive pricing
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Renewal price increase
Con Bullet Negative hosting reviews

As the name suggests, Namecheap offers relatively inexpensive domains and a minimal second-year price hike. Fortunately, buying a domain with Namecheap feels easy and pleasant. The site has an uncluttered, readable layout that makes it easy to find what you need. And while Namecheap will offer you additional services, it never uses annoying pop-ups or forces you to click through several screens of upselling during checkout in doing so.

Namecheap domain pricing

.com 1st-year cost
.com renewal cost
.pizza 1st-year cost
.pizza renewal cost
Learn more

$8.88/yr.

$12.98/yr.

$6.88/yr.

$44.88/yr.

.com 1st-year cost

$8.88/yr.

.com renewal cost

$12.98/yr.

.pizza 1st-year cost

$6.88/yr.

.pizza renewal cost

$44.88/yr.

Learn more

Data effective 11/13/19. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change.

Plus, Namecheap offers plenty of extras to go with your domain—from email accounts to website security to site hosting. Its responsive 24/7 customer service is just the cherry on top. No wonder more than 10 million domains are managed with Namecheap.1

If you want a pain-free domain registration experience, we recommend Namecheap.

DreamHost: Best for handling data

Strengths
Pro Bullet Free SSL certificate
Pro Bullet Minimal renewal cost increase
Pro Bullet Extra SSL available
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Bot-based customer support
Con Bullet Renewal cost bump

If your business requires you to get data from your customers—making any credit card sales, for example—then take a look at DreamHost. It’s the only registrar on this list that comes with a free SSL certificate, which encrypts data on your site (see a full explanation in our website glossary). And for even more data security, DreamHost offers an advanced SSL certificate for just $15 per year (less than many registrars charge for basic SSL).

DreamHost domain pricing
.com 1st-year cost
.com renewal cost
.pizza 1st-year cost
.pizza renewal cost
Learn more

$8.99/yr.

$15.99/yr.

$59.99/yr.

$59.99/yr.

.com 1st-year cost

$8.99/yr.

.com renewal cost

$15.99/yr.

.pizza 1st-year cost

$59.99/yr.

.pizza renewal cost

$59.99/yr.

Learn more

Data effective 11/13/19. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change.

But DreamHost does more than SSL—it also has fair pricing with less dramatic price hikes than you get with other registrars. Plus, it offers quality site hosting, personalized email, and even a basic website builder.

So if you want an all-around good host with top-notch data protection, we suggest DreamHost.

GoDaddy: Most popular with business owners

Strengths
Pro Bullet Popularity with website owners
Pro Bullet Super-low starting prices
Pro Bullet Suite of website products
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Significant renewal price hike
Con Bullet Aggressive upselling tactics

There’s a good chance that GoDaddy is the only domain registrar you’ve heard of (perhaps thanks to those, uh, “memorable” SuperBowl ads?), which makes sense given that GoDaddy manages over 78 million domains.2 And honestly, it’s popular for a reason; between .com registration starting at just $4.99 and its host of complementary products (hosting, site building, and more), GoDaddy has a lot to offer.

GoDaddy domain pricing

.com 1st-year cost
.com renewal cost
.pizza 1st-year cost
.pizza renewal cost
Learn more

$11.99/yr.

$17.99/yr.

$9.99/mo.

$69.99/mo.

.com 1st-year cost

$11.99/yr.

.com renewal cost

$17.99/yr.

.pizza 1st-year cost

$9.99/mo.

.pizza renewal cost

$69.99/mo.

Learn more

Data effective 11/13/19. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change.

Just watch out for the second-year price hike—that $11.99 domain won’t stay $11.99 forever. And keep in mind that buying from GoDaddy can feel a little overwhelming, what with its cluttered layout and aggressive sales tactics (a free trial of their auto-renewing website builder goes into your cart by default, for example).

Still, if you want something vouched for by tons of other business owners, GoDaddy’s the way to go.

Pricetag
Special GoDaddy offer

zhulitouzi.com readers get a special discount from GoDaddy—register your domain for just $4.99 for the first year!

Google Domains: Best for no-frills domain purchases

Strengths
Pro Bullet Surprise-free pricing
Pro Bullet Clean interface
Pro Bullet WHOIS privacy protection included
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Few extras available
Con Bullet Pricey email options
Con Bullet No SSL available

Google Domains keeps it simple: you can buy domains (with optional privacy protection features included in the price), and if you want email, you can either set up forwarding or get a G Suite account, which gives you a business email account plus access to other Google products (like Google Docs or Google Calendars).

Google domain pricing

.com 1st-year cost
.com renewal cost
.pizza 1st-year cost
.pizza renewal cost
Learn more

$12/yr.

$12/yr.

$60/mo.

$60/mo.

.com 1st-year cost

$12/yr.

.com renewal cost

$12/yr.

.pizza 1st-year cost

$60/mo.

.pizza renewal cost

$60/mo.

Learn more

Data effective 11/13/19. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change.

And that’s it. Google won’t upsell you on hosting, and it won’t ask you to purchase extra security. There are no nasty surprises when you renew either; if you pay $12 when you first register your .com domain, you’ll pay $12 to renew it.

So if you just want a domain without the extras—maybe because your host has everything you need or you want to reserve your domain without building a site—Google Domains can give you just that.

Info
What's a TLD?
TLD stands for top-level domain, and it basically serves as the suffix for a URL. For example, .com and .org are traditional TLDs. In the past few years, loads more TLDs have been released, like .pizza and .hockey.

Choosing the right domain registrar

As you choose a registrar, keep the following factors in mind.

ICANN registration

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) supervises the system of domain registration, administering rules and guidelines for registrars. Before buying a domain through a registrar, or a reseller, check the company’s ICANN accreditation. (We’ll help: the domain registrars included in this review are all ICANN accredited.)

Contract length and auto-renewal

Domain registrars offer anywhere from single-year all the way up to 10-year contract timeframes—read the details and be clear on what you’re signing up for before checkout. Most individuals and smaller businesses opt for one-year agreements set to auto-renew upon expiration. Should you go this route, make sure your auto-renewal is properly configured; many a domain has been lost to internet poachers who snatch up freshly expired, unattended URLs (a.k.a. “drop catching”).

Pricing

Domain costs vary between registrars, but not by much—the real deals are to be had with discounted bulk domain purchases and web hosting packages (most registrars will waive the price of the domain for a year or longer if you opt for their web hosting services). Also note that prices that appear unusually low don’t always reflect extra fees (for ICANN, privacy, SSL certificates, etc.) that will be included at checkout.

Domain transfer

While it is possible to transfer a domain from one registrar to another for whatever reason (maybe you don’t like the fact that GoDaddy’s founder and now-former CEO hunted elephants and, almost as inexcusable, wears an earring in his 60s), some services charge a fee to move or disallow transfers completely. Again, the fine print—read it.

Customer support

You may not think that domain issues alone require 24/7/365 customer support, but you’ll probably think again when your URL mysteriously starts redirecting to a Korean vape shop site overnight. Reliable, around-the-clock customer support (phone, chat, email tickets) becomes even more crucial if you’re trusting your web hosting with an all-in-one service.

Privacy services

The WhoIs database stores the details of registered domains, meaning anyone can perform a WhoIs search to find the contact information of the owner, as well as the domain’s availability status, registration and expiration dates, and other data. Some domain registrars offer private registration, which substitutes their information for yours in WhoIs searches.  But the listed domain registrant is recognized as the legal owner of the domain name, so proceed with caution.

 

The takeaway

No matter what domain registrar you end up going with, you’ll get a fancy new URL for your business website. And frankly, that’s the most important thing. Even so, we hope our domain registrar rankings have helped you differentiate one registrar from another and find the one that offers just what your business website needs.

But, uh, you’re on your own with that golden retriever.

Now that you have a domain, take a look at hosting services with our rankings of the best web hosting providers and the best WordPress hosting providers. Then create your business website with one of the best website builders.

Disclaimer

At zhulitouzi.com, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources

  1. Namecheap, “About Us”
  2. GoDaddy, “GoDaddy Company Overview”
Chloe Goodshore
Written by
Chloe Goodshore
Chloe covers business financing and loans for zhulitouzi.com. She has worked with many small businesses over the past 10 years, from video game stores to law firms. Those years watching frustrated business owners try to sift through their many options gave her a passion for breaking down complex business topics. She wants to help business owners spend less time agonizing over their businesses so they can spend more time running them.
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