Choosing an available domain name (website name) can be sometimes as simple as registering the domain name of your business. However, when we start to dive a little deeper into the ripple effects of the domain name you have chosen, the once obvious choice you have made may need some further consideration. This is actually a surprisingly big topic that can have significant consequences on the success of your business online. So lets throw you in the deep end with an unnerving statistic that according to Internet Live Stats, as indicated on their graph below, there are almost 1 billion registered website names in the world. Amazingly though, about 75% of them are not being used, possibly because their owners intend to re-sell them or use them in the future. But don't panic, there are lots of ways to choose a domain and Australia is a great place to get one.
Total Number Of Websites Worlwide
.com vs .au Domain Types
As a simple rule, it’s always a good idea to purchase the .com domain type of your business name. It’s not very expensive and you may want to use it in the future. However it is unlikely to be available because most good .com names have been purchased for the sole purpose of reselling to the highest bidder. The good news is that Australia has very strict rules for .au domain types, which means there’s a much higher chance of availability. To qualify, you need an ABN or proof of registration of a business or company name. The .au domain name type you apply for also needs to be a similar name to your business or demonstrate a close connection with what your business does. Google also recognizes .au domain types as being specific for Australia, so you will usually have an advantage over non .au domain types in Google search results. If you would prefer a .com instead, Google can be notified through Google Webmaster Tools that your website is Australia specific and you should not be disadvantaged. If your business is a not-for profit organization you can apply for a .org.au domain type instead. For most small businesses the above information will get you started, but there’s lots more to consider. The graphic below from ausRegistry show that 76% of Australian businesses prefer using a .au domain name for their business.
What’s In A Name?
The domain name you choose can have an effect on your search engine rankings and the ability for people to remember it. Traditionally, if you had a keyword in your domain name you wanted to be found in Google for, this would help you tremendously in getting ranked highly in Google. They got wise to this and changed it’s algorithm and no longer values the word as much for keyword relevancy, but it still holds value for other reasons. If your domain name has a keyword in it you may get more people clicking on your Google listing because it’s relevant to their search and it will automatically be highlighted in bold. On the downside, if your domain name is ALL made up of highly searched keywords and if someone is searching for your actual business name, your competitors may be the ones showing up above your listing on Google if you don’t already have good rankings in Google for those keywords. It’s now argued by a lot of people that having a memorable, unique and easy to type name is now more important than keyword relevancy in a domain name. The screen shot from Google below shows a search for "buy shoes" and only 2 out of the first 7 organic results (top 3 are paid ads so don't count) don't have the word "shoe" or "buy" in its' main domain name. However these names are well known brands that people probably search for anyway. A different search for a local service might show more keyword rich domain names being displayed on page one of Google. This may be due to a simple co-incidence because people searching don't have a brand in mind so they click on the more keyword relevant business, thus automatically improving their Google ranking, or it could be that older sites were usually keyword rich names but the reason they are still there is because they are trusted!
Other Domain Type Extensions
As the Internet gets more and more popular, domain names are running out, so the solution is to create more domain types. The latest trend we’ve been noticing are location specific extensions such as .sydney or industry specific extensions such as .webdesign .So the real question is should you invest in these names as well? I’m going to be soft here and not take a view one way or the other because the future of the internet is so unpredictable and moves at such a fast pace. I can tell you that right now in Australia I very rarely come across other types of domains in search engine results so I certainly don’t think it’s that important right now, but it could be like property and investing in different domain types now could be valuable for the future.
Domain name strategy for outside of Australia comes with a few things to consider. Firstly, the most obvious strategy would be to register a .com domain type, which will be well received by Google search engines in all countries. However, depending the country, their users may be more inclined to click on listings with their countries’ domain type such as .nz for New Zealand because they wasn’t a local business. The first way of dealing with this is putting a directory extension on the .com that indicates the country you are targeting, such as .com/nz . You can then tell Google that everything in the /nz directory of the site is specifically for New Zealand. This is the method Apple use in Australia apple.com/au . A sub domain will work in a similar way, such as au.apple.com but is becoming less of a popular choice. If you are targeting the USA then .com would be most familiar to users. The other choice would be to specifically target each individual country with a separate website and domain name with a specific country domain type such as .nz for New Zealand .au for Australia .fr for France and so on. The most challenging thing to ensure when doing this is to avoid duplicate content of multiple websites, which will need a professional to ensure everything is set up correctly so that Google doesn’t get. Which may negatively impact your search engine rankings. The final thing to consider is the name of the domain in certain countries, what might sound great in Australia may me offensive to your market in China.
The best rule of thumb is to make your domain name easy to remember, easy to type into Google and for it to either be your business name or a clear representation of your business name. Also, consider your geographical audience and evaluate what domain type best suits your business now and into the future.