We see a lot of confusion on the issue of domain names and how to choose them and particularly the question of whether to choose a .com or .com.au domain.
I think its best to answer that question with another question – “where are the majority of your customers?” Most small businesses in Australia have no intention of servicing overseas orders so in such a case I’d opt for the .com.au. version.
My reasoning behind this is simple. Aussies and indeed other nationalities have shown they tend to trust their own country’s merchants over the overseas ones. There are exceptions like Amazon which tends to be well trusted internationally but in the main it’s a parochial world we live in and the locals tend to get more trust.
If on the other hand you intend servicing both domestic and overseas markets I’d recommend getting both versions. Your web designer should be able to set your site up so both versions of the domain can be ‘pointed’ to the same website.
Why .com.au instead of .net.au? Simple – when it comes to remembering a web address people tend to remember the .com.au variants before the others. There is a natural tendency to use .com.au by default in OZ when we are trying to remember website addresses. I’m willing to bet many have looked for our national broadcaster on abc.com.au – wrong, they’re on .net.au and they have to work hard to get you to remember it.
We see a lot of folks asking whether they should choose other top level domains (TLDs) like .net (or .net.au), .biz, .info etc. Often this question arises after they get mail from Hong Kong saying some competitor is about to register those other versions and would you like to register them first for the bargain price…
It depends on a couple of things.
From a ‘brand perspective’ – is your business also a ‘brand’? Would it upset you if some other operator here in Australia had the website joeswidgets.net.au when you have joeswidgets.com.au? If so, register those other Australian variations, the ones with .au on the end.
Now would it bother you if someone in another country had joeswidgets.biz or joeswidgets.com? If not, you don’t need to worry about those other TLDs just stick to the Aussie ones.
Ok now for something completely different, should you choose a domain (of any TLD) that has your keywords in it? The answer is a definite maybe!
If you are in the business of selling widgets in Australia and widgets.com.au happens to be available then its certainly worth considering. In most cases you’ll want to go ahead and get that great domain but only if your brand “Joes Widgets” is not so important. You see people on the site will tend to remember the name of the site not the brand that owns it (most businesses get over it and prefer the traffic!).
Of course you could get your webmaster to forward any typein traffic on widgets.com.au to your ‘real’ website joeswidgets.com.au.
On the other hand would you want to register greatwidgets.com.au or cheapwidgets.com.au to point to your real website? Probably not, because there are not likely to be many typeins for those.
Those domains would however be very useful if you wanted to set them up as separate sites! You see search engines do tend to like exact match domains so will tend to favour cheapwidgets.com.au when someone searches for “cheap widgets”. We see some companies do very well with that strategy, several specific sites as well as their main site but it can be a lot of work because they really do need to be run as separate websites all serving their own visitors and acting as feeder sites to the main website.
Got any other ideas on choosing domain names? – Comment below!