I migrated from Google Domains to WordPress and here’s what went wrong

You probably already know, but if you don’t, Google sold their domain registration service to Squarespace. That means that if you don’t want to use Squarespace for your web hosting, it might be a good idea to move your domain name away from Google’s registrar service.

Of course, as of March 2024, it’s too late for that.

screenshot of message at google domains that says "google no longer offers domains, but try Squarespace"
Screenshot of the message you get now at Google Domains.

Google domains was my ace in the hole for years as a registrar. They gave you free privacy, didn’t fill their interface with upsells like Godaddy. They were almost minimalist! That was a real break in the midst of bloated companies giving you cheap domain names in exchange for a gaunlet of upsells.


I’ll miss you Google Domains.

When I had little kids, I wished the grocery store had a blank checkout. You’d pay an extra dollar at the register, but the checkout aisle would be flat stainless steel walls all of the way down. I would love that! I might even do that as an adult. No snack food, no candy, no magazines or phone chargers, and – oh yes – that will be an extra dollar for the minimalist checkout Mr. Sullivan. Thank you.

So I moved the 40-ish domains away from Google as soon as I heard the news. WordPress was a safe haven and is still giving you an extra year registration if you are a Google Domains refugee.

Screenshot of free domain transfer from Google to WordPress domains
Note that bottom green note – you get a free extra year from WordPress. That’s $20 or less but still helpful.

How did the transfer from Google Domains to WordPress domains go?

It went smooth as can be. Except for the part that didn’t. This isn’t a complaint, this is just a warning that it’s not like a self-driving car. You have to do some things.

All of the DNS copied over great. That was good.

But the domain was set to show a WordPress.com Coming Soon page. That was weird. It didn’t automatically serve up my site. It wasn’t a DNS problem. It was a checkbox at WordPress Domains that I had to turn off.

The Name Servers didn’t copy over

Aha! That was the real problem. Not only was there some checkbox setting mumbo jumbo that I had to do, but my whole nameserver was different. You know what that means?

Everything that depended on the nameserver was broken

It’s easy to forget what all you verified with your DNS. Google Search Console – an essential tool for any website – broken.

Email depends on your MX records, which are gathered from your DNS, which is assigned from your… you guessed it, nameserver! Oh shoot!

So don’t think it’s fix it and forget it. But yes, it isn’t that hard. You just have to know to do it.

As always, make backups

You should always have a backup of all of your DNS records anyway. In this case, they all copied but shew boy it made me glad I had backups in case something didn’t move over automatically.

Once the Nameserver was set back to normal and all of the right checkboxes were fixed, everything worked great. I haven’t seen any SEO impact on the transfer either. It’s easy to think that registering your domain at Google would help your SEO, but it didn’t. Maybe we’ll find out it did from some class action lawsuit against Google in 10 years. If so, I look forward to my check for $6.95.

WordPress domains isn’t the only good option. Meet Porkbun.

I moved a lot of domains to WordPress, but I also moved several to Porkbun. Yep. And they are as ridiculous as they sound. If you can’t be minimalist, then be awesome. If you don’t care about getting a free year and you want a lot of easy to use features, go with Porkbun.

Follow that awesome link above and you’ll see they have more domain name endings than a BBQ shop has fire hazards.

Run some tests then leave it alone

After you transfer your domain, let it all sit for a day or so and then use a tool like MXToolbox to check all of your DNS, Nameserver, and MX records. If everything works alright, then forget about it (until you do your quarterly site checkup).

Transferring domains is rare

You just transferred your domain names away from Google! Good job! You probably won’t have to do that again until somebody buys Porkbun or WordPress sells off their domains to another company (which I don’t see happening for years and years. Of course, I used to use Evernote too.)

Give yourself a pat on the back and yes, I know you just bought a bunch of extra domain names while you were transferring your names. I know the struggle. That’s how I ended up with domains like https://digitalmarketingcompany.click/ and of course, godowntownevansville.com. Good grief!

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