What’s a .au domain, anyway?
Recently a new category of domains have become available exclusively for Australian businesses – .au.
Internet domains were originally designed to help categorise the content on the internet, either by location or purpose. The new .au top level domain will sit alongside the existing .com.au top level domain as a way for Australian businesses to identify their location to others.
Do I need one?
Honestly – unless it’s very important that you’re identified as an Australian business to your customers, and it’s also very important that no one else owns the same or similar .au domain, probably not.
There are plenty of domain registrars who will tell you you need to “protect your business” by buying every possible variation on your name – the .com, .com.au, .net, .org, .biz – and also look at common misspellings of your domain, pluralisations, and other variations. The .au top level domain is another one to add to the list. Sigh!
Of course there is wisdom to this – there’s always the chance that someone will come along, use a similar domain name to you to try and run a scam or duplicate your business, capitalising on customer’s confusion to steal them away from you. If this was to happen, at best it would be frustrating, at worst it could be devastating to your business. So this risk can’t be taken lightly.
But it’s important to keep in mind that the people who sell domains have a clear agenda. That is to sell lots of domains – that’s how they make their money. So of course they’re going to emphasise the risks around not owning dozens (or hundreds) of them.
But is your business likely to collapse if you don’t add the .au top level domain to your shopping cart? Probably not.
Should I Buy A .au Domain?
Each business owner needs to make a strategic decision about this and balance the risk that someone buying a similar domain would actually pose against the cost of buying multiple domains.
For the majority of businesses, the risk is fairly negligible – and it can be argued that unless it’s very important that your customers/clients feel reassured that you’re an Australian business, for many, the .com is enough.
It’s also worth noting that there’s no real “end point” to the number of domains you could own. Businesses could easily work up a list with a hundred or more slight variations of their business domains, and it simply wouldn’t be practical (or even affordable) for most small businesses to try and buy all of these.
Is this a cost you can afford, and even if you can afford it, is it the best way you should be spending your precious cash right now (i.e. “is there a more important way that money should be spent”)? This is an especially important question to ask if cash flow is a current stress in your business.
If you don’t buy your preferred .au domain today, chances are it will still be available next week, next month or perhaps even next year. But then again, it might not be. So, if that causes you more stress than your cash flow stress, then you might want to buy it for peace of mind.
However, for most businesses, the best way to protect yourself against domain poachers and copycats is to be sure that you are optimising your website to be more easily found in search, as well as clearly establishing yourself in the minds of your customers and ensuring you have multiple touch points with them.
It’s much more difficult to steal away a customer who is connected to you on all your social channels, who subscribes to your newsletter, who has a clear understanding of why you’re unique (and better than competitors!). When you’ve used your website copy, your social media content, and emails to establish great rapport with your customers, so that they have an emotional connection to your brand they’re far more likely to be loyal.
A unique brand personality, well communicated, great products and services and a content and communications strategy that ensures your customers are “feeling the love” is your best play here.
If that’s something you’d like a hand with – reach out and let us know!
What Do I Do With My New .au Domain If I Buy It?
This is the part that most businesses don’t consider and/or understand. If you buy a .au top level domain, after already having your website set up using another top level domain (e.g. .com.au), then you don’t have to set up a new website or shift your primary domain from what you are currently using (unless you want to).
Instead, you can just redirect the new .au domain so if anyone that types it into a web browser, they will be redirected to your current website. Interestingly, a lot of domain registrars also charge for this, particularly if you are not hosting your website through them, so this can mean an even greater expense for your business.
If you want the .au domain to be your primary domain, then you are going to have to create a duplicate of your website, a database for your new domain, upload that duplicate to the new domain, set up permanent 301 redirects, notify Google about your new domain via Google Search Console and then update all of your branding to indicate that the .au domain is where you want everyone to go – yes, I am oversimplifying this. And don’t forget to update all your email addresses whilst you’re at it!
No doubt you’re probably going to have to pay for technical support for that as well!
So, if this is your end game, then please take this into consideration also when getting all excited that it is only going to cost you $9.49 (for the first year) or whatever the current “special offer” is to secure this piece of online real estate gold.
Did I Buy The .au Domain?
I did this because the cost to purchase far outweighed the risks to my business and we have the in-house knowledge to be able to do all the tech to set redirects in place. And my business can afford it. Many can’t.
Am I happy about it?
I haven’t even bothered to set up the redirects for some of my websites yet, because I am one of those people who have purchased domain names through multiple companies. Some of the registrars I have purchased my domains through (that I don’t host with) now want to charge me hosting fees just to redirect the domain.
I know that most people won’t be typing the exact .au domain into their web browser, and if they do and get the dreaded “This site can’t be reached” notification, a quick Google of the domain without the top level extension will bring them right to our primary domain.
I am also not happy about this because I know that a lot of small businesses can’t afford this – and that makes me angry that .au is even a thing. It was meant to be set up as a way to release more real estate to businesses that couldn’t get their preferred domain because the top level domain was already taken. And then the first thing the domain registrars did was to only allow businesses that already had the domain with a different top level domain extension to secure them first.
So was this really to help new businesses get their domain of choice, or a money grab on behalf of the domain registers? You decide!
Will I set up a redirect down the track?
Probably, but it’s not a priority for my right now. Just securing the .au so that nobody else would was my biggest priority. The truth is that most people (outside the business world) probably aren’t even aware that .au is a thing, so I won’t be losing any sleep over this.
How Do I Get Help Setting Up My. New au Domain?
If you bought a .au domain and need support setting it up, then get in touch and we can provide you with some options, depending upon whether or not you want to DIY it or just get someone else to do it all for you.
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