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Google testing custom domain registration service

Still in an invite-only beta, Google Domains is geared toward helping small businesses without a Web presence purchase and transfer domains.

Google Domains start page. Google

Google apparently has its eye on a larger piece of the Internet.

The search giant announced Monday it is testing a custom domain registration service called Google Domains. Google said it decided to launch the service, which is still in an invite-only beta mode, after learning that 55 percent of small businesses did not have a website.

"We're beginning to invite a small number of people to kick the tires on Google Domains, a domain registration service we're in the process of building," the company said in a statement. "Businesses will be able to search, find, purchase and transfer the best domain for their business -- whether it's .com, .biz, .org, or any of the wide range of new domains that are being released to the Web."

Google Domains will offer services such as domain forwarding, customizable sub-domains, and no-cost private registration. In addition to offering access to hundreds of new domains such as .guru and .photography, the service will create up to 100 email aliases based on the domain of choice

While the service will give people the ability to buy customized URLs, Google won't provide the actual site hosting. Partners such as Wix, Weebly, Shopify, and Squarespace will provide hosting and website building services to registrants, the company said.

A Google page describing the service's features lists a $12 annual registration fee, which a Google representative confirmed for CNET.

Google's presence in the sector could prove disruptive, especially for leading domain registrar GoDaddy, which filed papers two weeks ago for an initial public offering that could be worth more than $100 million. While GoDaddy has 57 million domains under its management, controlling roughly 30 percent of the domain registrar market, the company revealed earlier this month that it had net losses of nearly $200 million of $1.13 billion in revenue in 2013.