Welcome to the Domain Name Registrar Challenge Elite Eight, where we will find out who are the best four domain registrars of 2020. This challenge started with 64 registrars, much like the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament, dubbed March Madness. Like that tournament, we’re down to the final 8 registrars. Only four registrars will advance to The Domain Registrar Final Four to compete to become the best domain registrar of 2020.
I want to say that breaking down the Elite 8 was easier than I expected, much like separating the wheat from the chaff, it was fairly obvious to me (based upon features) which registrars were better. This is either me getting better at understanding what’s valuable, or perhaps the final four were just heads and shoulders above the rest to begin. I like to think the bracket done it’s job, and allowed the cream to rise to the top. The Epik and Uniregistry matchups were as close I’ve seen to a no-brainer. The other two matchups were slightly tighter, but nothing like I saw in the first three rounds of the tournament.
If you’ve enjoyed these series of articles, be sure to check out the podcast, Domain Investing with Jason of Florida, where I break down each matchup in slightly more detail (and talk about other stuff). If you have any feedback or questions, please reach out and contact me!
Sweet Sixteen: breakdown
Bracket: updated bracket
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of these registrars. All of these notes are my opinions. My opinions were based upon observations of services as provided on the registrar website.
Elite Eight Matchups
(1) godaddy.com vs (7) namesilo.com
GoDaddy entered the field of 64 as the number one overall seed, and if this tournament has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed. GoDaddy is a domainer favorite because they offer many of the tools they need to buy and sell domain names. They offer a powerful aftermarket that is integrated with Afternic (since they happen to own them). This integration allows investors to list domain names for sale on the GoDaddy and Afternic marketplace seamlessly. They also offer an expired marketplace, where you can bid and buy on expired and closeout domain names. You must be a member (and pay $4.99 per year) to bid, but it’s still a pretty fair deal. They also offer domain parking (but charge another fee for this). It seems their effort to provide services to domain investors are pretty fee-heavy.
However, there are a few drawbacks. GoDaddy offers a notoriously bad user experience (their website is buggy), and mediocre customer service (at best). More, they offer privacy protection, but at a premium (unless you turned out to be like me and got it for free). Their pricing is often competitive, but what they make up for in up-front pricing, they tack-on with fees or non-discounted prices.
NameSilo offers competitive pricing, and pricing at bulk discounts. Like GoDaddy, NameSilo offers Parking, but it’s free. Namesilo’s marketplace is much less mature and less active than GoDaddy’s. However, they do offer mechanisms to filter search results. Though not robust, it is much easier to use than the GoDaddy filters, in my opinion. Like GoDaddy, NameSilo offers privacy, but at a premium fee.
Let’s get to brass-tax, if I was left to choose between ever using 1 registrar between these two options, I choose GoDaddy every single time. NameSilo did a great job to get themselves into the conversation, but facing the number-one-over-all-seed is a real stretch.
Final Score: GoDaddy 90, NameSilo 83
(1) domains.google.com vs (6) uniregistry
Google is a very good domain registrar, offering good pricing, a good platform and web interface. I’ve covered them in depth in previous breakdowns. Google barely survived Namespro.ca in the sweet sixteen, against a challenger without a marketplace or other robust tooling.
Uniregistry, acquired by GoDaddy, offers many tools to domain investors, including a Marketplace, parking service and a tiered-pricing-strategy. That’s just for starters, but that’s all the facts we need to move Uniregistry to the Final Four in a blowout win over Google.
Final Score: Uniregistry 88, Google 69
(3) hexonet.net vs (3) epik.com
Hexonet defeated NameBright in the sweet 16 to advance this far. NameBright had defeated the number 1 seed in the bracket in their previous matchup, but couldn’t sustain the momentum. Hexonet offers a daily .com/.net drop list and an aftermarket in addition to domain registration.
Epik features a popular marketplace, escrow services, support for domain parking, to name three features. But those are just the tip of the iceberg for Epik, which features so much more. If you’ve followed the matchups throughout the east region, you’ll know Epik can play with all challengers, big and small.
While this matchup could involve more analysis, anyone with two eyes and a connection to the internet can see this was Epik’s game to lose, and they did not.
Final Score: Epik 104, Hexonet 91
(1) dynadot.com vs (10) sav.com
Dynadot offers both expired and user auctions, as well as a marketplace. They support backordering, as well as have backorder auctions. Their current pricing is knocking the socks off the competition ($7.99 for .com registration), and this comes with free privacy. Register a name and have regrets later? They even offer Grace Deletions!
Sav has been this year’s Domain Registrar Challenge’s Cinderella team, knocking off higher seeded registrars in each round. Their wins include defeating (7) Joker, (2) Name, (11)NamePal – but now they’re playing ball with the big boys of the industry. Powered by their auction platform and no-fee backorder service, they’ve won based upon a combination transparency, services, and price.
Sav has made a great run, but they ran into a registrar that has their eyes on a championship. Dynadot features a great website that is easy to use and navigate, coupled with great services at good prices.
Final Score: Dynadot 99, Sav.com 90
Sweet Sixteen: breakdown
Bracket: updated bracket