In Australia, if you want a .com.au domain name, you have to provide your business registration info and evidence that you have traded or intend to trade.
Australian domain names
This stops unscrupulous people buying your business name as a domain name and then selling it on to you for a princely sum later on. On the downside, what it also does is turn a registration process that normally takes 1 or 2 days (sometimes only hours for a .com or .net domain) into several weeks. It’s annoying, but it’s the trade off for Australian flavoured domain name security.
So on the one hand, your business name is relatively safe, but on the other, Australian domains are at least twice as expensive and can take 10 times longer to set up. To find the registrar of record for a particular Australian domain name, use the public WHOIS service.
Domain names are becoming less important
Your domain name and web site are separate
Many people don’t realise that their domain name (the url of a site e.g. www.yourname.com.au) and the server can be completely independent of each other. You can point a domain name to any server with a public webspace and an html / php index file.
Really? So what is my server?
Your server is a computer connected to the Internet. It’s literally a computer like the one you have now, except it’s plugged into the internet backbone. Your site is literally sitting on a hard drive in a directory. It’s most likely sitting there with lots of other web spaces in separate directories titled with a username. Commonly referred to as hosting, your server is the place where your database and website files live. The server only grants access to certain files such as programs, text, images, graphics are stored there.
What’s a database? Why do I need one?
Right. So what is a domain name again?
You can buy a domain name anywhere across the web. Once you’ve bought your $7 .com domain name, in your domain name settings (on the server wher you bought that domain) you can “point” the domain name to a space on the server where your website lives. Australian domain names cost $35 for 2 years (wholesale), most of which is made up of the Australian domain name admin fee. Americans aren’t the only ones price gauging Australians. We’re pretty good at doing it to ourselves.
Is there any advantage to buying multiple domain names?
My opinion? No. Not unless you’re going to actually do something with it.
A lot of people buy several domain names because they are relatively cheap at about $7 wholesale. You can park other domains over the top of a parent domain, but unless you are actually going to build a separate website for each domain name, there’s not much else you can do with additional domain names. Buying them is usually a defensive measure. But in my opinion, running your business negatively (driven by competition alone) is counter-productive. Plus it’s wasted energy and a bit childish. “I’m getting that just so you can’t have it.” This defensive move is probably not necessary because it’s a million times more important to have an effective website.
What’s a parent domain name?
Ah. Good question.
It’s best to build your website on top of the most meaningful (parent) domain name in your industry. So, if you are an Australian company called “Masons Ground and Structural Solutions” buying the domain www.masonsstructuralsolutions.com is an average idea, while building your site on a domain like www.brickpavingpath.com.au is useful. It’s Australian and Google favours local search (.au domains) plus it has the following terms in it that are very good for SEO.
You can buy the $7 www.masonsstructuralsolutions.com and park that over the top easily enough so that both domains arrive at the same website.
You really ought to research what keywords are being searched for on Google before buying a domain name. $7 for a .com and $35 for a .au sound pretty cheap, but you want to give yourself the best chance when it comes to search. It’s hard to get found these days.
Incidentally my domain name is www.geoffreymultimedia.com which is not that meaningful. Www.websites.com would be more meaningful because that’s what I do. In hindsight, I should have parked www.geoffreymultimedia.com over that domain name. But I have enough work, so I don’t care. I save all my SEO prowess for clients.
Keyword research & SEO
You can see what people are searching for (as opposed to what you think they are searching for) by using this Google Keyword tool. http://www.googlekeywordtool.com/
Google tends to give the most attention to your domain name and then the title of your site (as well as quality in-bound links and headers etc. Read more about search engine optimisation for humans in this article.). Then I would be more likely to be found in a search for “websites” than “geoffrey” or even “multimedia” for that matter. But all this is academic. It’s really better to have a nicely functioning website. I doubt I could handle netting 3 websites per week when it takes me 6 weeks to do one (and 6 months to do this one).
Is this domain name dance important?
Ultimately, in business terms, it doesn’t matter what your domain name is. One thing to consider is Is my domain name easily communicable by phone?. I have issues with Geoffrey because it can be spelled so many ways. Is your domain name able to be found by the search engines or is there simply too much competition? You ought to have a site which is worth visiting to in the first place. Read my treatise on creating the perfect website).
Websites are too often about a company’s vanity and that starts with the domain name. But like with most things, it’s a good idea to put your ego last and think about what your sustomers want in the first place. In my opinion (actually and in Google’s) content is and always has been the most important aspect to your website.
A warning about domain names
As a general rule : don’t punch your potential domain name into any old website form when searching for a new domain name. Web form info can end up anywhere and in some cases, simply searching for your domain name triggers a behind the scenes script which will automatically reserves that name if it’s popular enough. It’s cruel but true. The hosting provider where you searched for a domain name can reserves it because you have searched for it – and then charge you extra. If you go looking elsewhere for that domain name, you find that someone mysteriously already has it, or at best, you will be coerced into to using a particular server to host your site. Because they’ll make that part very easy.
Punch potential domain names into your browser’s address bar in the very short term – and if the site address comes up with a “not found” – put an order in with your webmaster. We know where to go. Your web guy (most probably a guy, sadly) will want a 2nd and possible 3rd choice – just in case the domain is already taken.
- Think search engines first and forget about your company name. “Www.refurbishedshoes.com” is more likely to give better search results than “www.dinklewear.com.au” in a search for “refurbished shoes” and while Dinklewear may be a respectable family name – on the web, Dinklewear has no meaning. Your aim is to sell shoes.
- Search engines give preference to domain names with the search term inside it and page titles.
- Keep control of your domain name. Don’t give it to your web design company (just point it to their servers). Register your domain first and then find a good server. Most web companies host your website on their computer. Later down the track you might decide to go with another host or web developer and getting your old domain name back (plus the site associated with it) working on a new server can be troublesome.
To cut a long story short, web companies don’t like losing money and often make it very difficult for a new developer to retrieve your domain name. My general advice is to buy the domain name yourself and point that name to a reputable web comapny. Getting the old domain name from an unscrupulous web company can be a right pain in the $#@! and there are a lot of idiots in this industry. At the very least, if something goes wrong, or you have a falling out with your developer at least your domain name is under your control.
If you do get into bother
Most people usually have irrelevant or useless domain names, so if that’s you, sometimes it’s easier to just let them go and purchase a more useful name for your industry.
I hope this has helped. If I could get paid for the many hours I’ve spent retrieving domain names from selfish web companies, I’d be rich. Don’t forget, that even though we write these articles, Geoffrey Multimedia also builds beautiful websites, so get in touch with us if you’re in the market and want a no-obligation chat about your website plans.
Until next article, happy domain name hunting.
- Australian domain name administration
- Australian WHOIS service
- .com, .net and .org domain names cost about $7 (wholesale)
- .com.au, .net.au and .org.au domain names cost $35 for 2 years (wholesale)
Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jump Jet) text adventure computer program in 1982 during the Falklands War. He now builds websites utilising best practice, future-proof web development, marketing & SEO. He lectured for 15yrs+ at Curtin Uni where (in 2007) he was voted 5th best out of 2,500+ university lecturers in Australia. Now he wants to share what he knows.