GOOGLE HAS SOFT-LAUNCHED its own domain registration service.
The private beta gives users the opportunity to purchase website names from the same firm that decides where websites appear in internet searches.
Google has teamed up with four preferred partner website builders - Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Shopify - however the company will not be hosting the websites directly, just registering the domain names.
Although Google has no plans to offer web-hosting packages, it is possible to host a simple website using the company's Drive cloud storage facility.
Google has acted as the registrar for its own websites for some time, but this is the first time it has opened domain registration services for other businesses.
In a Google+ posting, the Google+ Your Business team noted that 55 percent of small businesses still don't have a website, and said that it hoped to be able to make it easier to build one, and decrease that figure.
The firm said, "We want input on all the ways we can help make finding, buying, transferring and managing a domain a simple and transparent experience. We also want to make sure our customer support and infrastructure works flawlessly, and that we have the right additional services."
This is one of what are likely to be many announcements from Google this week, with the annual Google I/O developers conference starting tomorrow, and the UK launch of Google Glass last night.
Interested businesses can request an invitation code on the beta website. The news comes a week after the new, shorter .uk domain name was launched. µ