RealTime IT News

Google The Registrar

Google watching has only intensified since the search player's highly-successful initial public offering (IPO) last year.

The latest move getting scrutinized is that the Mountain View, Calif., search engine company is now an accredited registrar through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

As a registrar, Google can sign people up with a domain name through any of the seven generic top-level domains (gTLD) and also control its own domain names, the importance of which was readily demonstrated with the domain hijacking of Panix.com last month.

There is no barrier to entry for a company like Google to enter the registrar market. To become an ICANN-accredited registrar, the company paid a $2,500 initial application fee and $7,000 accreditation fee to access the database of .com, .net., .org, .pro, .info, .name and .biz extensions --

The registrar for the Google.com domain name, however, is still listed under Alldomains.com, a San Francisco firm.

"Google has become a domain name registrar to learn more about the Internet's domain name system," a company official stated. "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."

However, some analysts point to the move as the start of something much grander than an information-seeking venture.

According to industry research firm Datamonitor, one possibility is that access to the databases of the seven domain extensions would improve the quality of Google's PageRank system, which gauges the popularity of a Web page by the number of links directed to that page.

Access to the registry would give Google a heads up to expiring domain names, so that when the domain is dropped, the page ranking would be reset and require the new site owner to start over on its PageRank standing. It would, the report notes, impact how many advertising clicks that new owner would get on the Web page.

"But it could also improve the 'quality' of the clicks, minimizing the amount of random drive-by traffic advertisers get, which in turn increases the price advertisers are willing to pay for each click they get," Datamonitor noted in a report.

Google has a program called AdSense for domains, similar to its contextual advertising offering that scans a Web site's content and serves up relevant advertising. The domain service is targeted at registrars and large domain name holders with unused, or "parked," names, putting up a search page and serving relevant ads.

The company has proved adept at keeping its business plans a secret. Last week, the rumor mill went into full gear with a report that a job listing on Google's Web site was looking for a "strategic negotiator" to negotiate dark fiber -- or unused bandwidth on an optical network -- deals for the company. It was thought by some that Google was getting ready for a Voice over IP push.

Google watchers for months have wondered what plans are underway for a Google Web browser. Last year, the company bought up the domain gbrowser.com and last week retained the services of Ben Goodger, the Mozilla Foundation's lead engineer on Firefox.