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Finding the best domain registrars using Google

Created and researched by Daniel White © Dec/2010
(last updated: 05/12/2010 )
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Nearing 2011, my current domain name is about to expire, so I thought I'd do some research on the best domain registrar to switch to (I was with UKreg, which I've found okay in my experience, but they're not the cheapest). I'm probably not the only person who will benefit from this, so I've published my findings here. It was based on the same idea I used for the Using Google to Find Best Web Host page which I made in 2005. Basically I scoured the web (essentially Google) to see the *proportion* of negative comments against the amount of positive comments, filtered the false positives out, and saw who was the best (and worst) based on a formula shown below. There's a bit more to it than that, which I'll get to in a bit...

It turns out that ALL of the domain name registrars have a fairly sizable portion of bad reviews. I guess this is to be expected since people won't often comment at all unless they have something bad to say ("No news is good news" would apply). Unlike many other services, the domain name industry is pretty much automated, and in theory should be pretty simple to run. But that doesn't mean there aren't horror stories - Registerfly for instance came bottom of my list, and after a quick search on Google, it's easy to see why. Sheer incompetence, a lawsuit, and an unofficial dedicated website set up to help their victims is probably the tip of that particular iceberg (of course they closed down in 2007).

The rating system

Here then is the table. Obviously, I didn't go through every registrar on Earth. There are surely hundreds, but after an initial filter, these are very roughly the top 15 in terms of popularity. Less popular registrars may be good, but would be tricky to tell either way since I couldn't collect enough data on them. I also steered away from registrars whose main service was not domain name registering, but maybe something else such as hosting.

These are the phrases I used. They are more likely to appear in Google, and least likely to be ambiguous, compared to other phrases:

The Master Formula
The formula also weights according to popularity since
a small amount of data is not as reliable

reliability = (popularityOfRegistrar/30) / (1 + popularityOfRegistrar/30)
ratio = (p1+p2+p3+1) / (n1+n2+n3+1)
weightedRatio = ratio ^ reliability
SCORE = weightedRatio / (1 + weightedRatio) * 100
Negative: "hate [x]", "[x] sucks", "avoid [x]"
Positive: "love [x]", "[x] rocks", "[x] is great"

Examples could include, "godaddy rocks", "godaddy sucks", "namecheap sucks" or "love namecheap". To help filter the Google results against duplicates, I used custom-made software to help semi-automate the process. For the top 5 results, I manually checked the Google searches to filter further against spam, advertising, sarcasm, and other false positives - a pretty painstaking process. Below, you'll find the Google search data in case you want to check for yourself. As Google is ever-updating, these will alter slightly over time, but I expect significant changes in registrar quality only over a period of years.

(Ignore the number to the right of the / symbol in these figures. That's just to show how many google results were shown in total. The number to the left of the '/' is the actual filtered result).

RegistrarPrice/YrPopularity"hate x""x sucks""avoid x""love x""x rocks""x is great"SCORE
Network Solutions$19.9917235/6071/9934/7112/196/914/1722.5%
RegisterFly-216 (0)22/37114/17461/11211/133/55/511.78%

A few surprises there. GoDaddy is clearly the most popular and has hundreds of positive comments (but hundreds of negatives to balance it out!). Namecheap seems to be the best (and is an ICANN accredited registrar), despite being based on the Enom company which is favoured less in this comparison. Places 2-4 are relatively rare, but they manage to come pretty close to Namecheap. Only after producing the table did I realise than NetSol is the same as Network Solutions, hence the double placement (though you can see that their scores are pretty similar - of course they would be if they were the same company!). Tucows was left out of the list because they're a lot more than just a registrar, and so comments about them could be non-relevant. And the less said about RegisterFly the better!

Well, I know what domain registrar *I'll* be going with...

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