What’s in a name? The importance of domain names

Recently, we’ve noticed a lot of talk amongst our clients in regards to domain names – What are they?  What should I register for my business?  Is a domain name more important than actual content?  So we thought we’d sit down and try to give you an understanding of what domain names are, to debunk some of the most common myths, and to give you some helpful tips!  Let’s get started…..


1.  What is a domain name?

In simple terms, a domain name is the www.xyzcompany.com.au web address you type in to an Internet browser to view a website. In more detail – a domain name is a string of characters used to name a website.  These strings are managed on the Internet by the Domain Name System (DNS).  The DNS uses the dots (‘.’) within a string to organise and manage domain names.  For example, www.websitesdoneright.com.au shows three levels of naming.  The ‘.com’ is the Top Level Domain (TLD), and the ‘.au’ is the two letter country code extension.


2. What do all the domain name extensions mean?

You may have noticed that there are many top level domain (TLD) name extensions out there, but what do they all mean?

.com.au / .net.au An Australian registered company, you must have an ABN to register either of these.

.org.au A charity or non-profit organisation operating in Australia

.edu.au An educational institution

.gov.au Government agencies only.

.asn.au For incorporated and non-commercial associations, such as political parties, trade unions etc.

.id.au For individuals who are an Australian citizen or resident.

A full list of countries and their associated domain name extensions can be found here.


3. Does it make any difference if I have a .com.au or a .net.au domain name for my business?

Research has shown that your domain name extension only plays a very small factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, therefore not really having much effect on your placement in search engine results.  However, the country extension on your domain name does have a significant effect on search results.  For example, a domain with a .com.au extension will rank higher than a .com domain in an Australian based search.


4. Can someone else register my business name as a domain?

It is very worthwhile to register your business name as a domain name as soon as possible, to avoid being at the mercy of a potential ‘cybersquatter’.  These people make a career out of registering a business name as a domain name, then trying to sell them to the actual business owner at a somewhat ‘inflated’ price.  Simply refer to ebay to see the price that some domains are attempting to be sold for:

Although not everyone who buys up a lot of domains is considered a “cybersquatter”.  As mentioned in Mark Fulton’s piece on domain names, “domains have been freely available to register since the 90’s and many wise investors had the foresight to stake their claim”.

Many of you out there have probably received an email or a phone call from an SEO company offering to sell you a domain name relating to your business/industry.  We recently completed a website for a local car mechanical business, who received one such phone call from an SEO company offering to sell them www.carrepairsadelaide.com.au.  This domain came with a basic templated web design and certain ‘guarantees’ of ranking #1 in Google.  As to whether or not buying sites like these is a valuable exercise for your business, it really depends on your individual situation and the strength of online competition in your industry.  However this might give you some food for thought…


5. “55% of search queries (in Google) are 3+ words, and 70% of these queries have no exact match”

Herein, we see the rise of the three-word domains, as written about in Dot Sauce.  If you can register a three-word domain with relevance to your business’ industry and/or location – you give yourself the best possible chance of ranking #1 in search engine results for that search query.  A hint from our in-house SEO Expert would be to create a mini site or customised landing page for each domain name registered, with unique, useful and relevant content and offers on the page where you can then direct enquiries through to your main site, with a clear call-to-action.  This means that the visitors who click on your site in the search results will see content that is relevant to their search query, and have an easy way of getting in contact with you.


6. Some final tips on what Domain you should register:

Registering a Domain Name that is as close to an exact match to your business name as possible is the best option because if people don’t have your domain name, they’re most likely to simply Google you.

Some people also register the .com versions of their domain name, and have that URL ‘pointing’ at their .com.au website.  This removes any potential confusion for your clients if a similar business was to take up the .com domain name.

Three word domains are also a great idea, as mentioned above.  If you would like some guidance on what you should register for your business, try to think about what your potential clients would be searching for.  Professional advice on this is also available from DBG Technologies.

If you’re inspired to register a domain name for your business, head here to see if it is available.  If it isn’t available, this site will also tell you who does own it in case you think it could be worthwhile to make an offer on it.

We could really write for pages on this topic, as there are so many things to cover.  But we’ll call it quits here, and encourage that if you have any more questions on the topic to comment on the article and let us know – we’ll do some research and get back to you!