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New .au web domains: will it make or break your business?

As of this week, Australian businesses will be able to purchase .au web domains, allowing them to drop the .com or .com.au for the first time. It is considered the most significant change in the web domain area in Australia since the 1980s.

These shorter .au domain names will be available to Australian Internet users from 24 March 2022.

It will be open to anyone with a verified connection to Australia, such as citizens, permanent residents, or organisations registered in the country.

Australian SMEs will have a six-month period, known as the Priority Application Period, to apply for a direct .au match from their previous namespace. This will last till 20 September 2022.

In the event there are multiple registrants for the same domain name (ex: if a registrant of domain.com.au and a registrant of domain.net.au are both applying for domain.au), the match will be allocated according to the Priority Allocation Process.

Although applying for a .au domain name is optional, it is recommended for small businesses.

“If you have a business in Australia catering to an Australian audience, you should register for your .au domain namespace because there are a number of benefits to this,” said Sarah Russo, Localsearch Head of Content Marketing.

“Only one person can hold a specific domain namespace at any one time, so there is a chance someone could claim your business name before you if they really wanted to do so. You may be able to claim it back under if it’s a case of cybersquatting but getting in first saves you a lot of hassle. Plus, it saves you from potential scams being registered under a URL containing your business name, if the wrong person were to get hold of it.”

She also notes that a .au domain name will build trust in your business.

“When consumers see this in your website URL, they feel confident they are buying from an Australian business or someone registered to sell in Australia,” Ms. Russo explained.

Also, a shorter URL through .au will be easier for consumers to remember.

“Sure, .com, .net, or .org only adds three letters and a character, but in today’s digital age, attention spans are short. The shorter your URL, the easier it will be to remember, which means your business is easier to remember,” she added.

For more information about the .au domain, click here.

New .au web domains: will it make or break your business?
Source: Myriam Jessier on Unsplash

How can this affect your business?

This is the first time the .au domain has been available for purchase. It is expected to bring Australia in line with many other country code Top Level Domains, including the United Kingdom (.uk), the USA (.us), and New Zealand (.nz).

However, there are many things to consider despite the surface benefits before migrating to a new domain. Without proper planning, knowledge of the processes and risks involved, and a migration checklist to ensure due diligence, businesses can easily lose domain authority when switching over.

Changing your domain name essentially rocks the boat. After years of building your search engine ranking through relevant and quality content, there’s no guarantee the new domain will maintain the same rankings. Businesses that rely on organic searches are likely to see a drop in website traffic, and it’s hard to say when redirects will start trickling back.

A poorly planned website migration without appropriate consultation and tools could be a recipe for disaster for many businesses.

Questions to consider

  • Where does your website traffic primarily come from? Is it from online search engines, Facebook or Google ads, or offline advertising? How are you reaching your target audience, and could they be easily confused between .com, .com.au, and .au domains?
  • Do you know which URLs need to be prioritised? Have you checked organic searches, SEMrush, Google Analytics, and other resources to understand the pages that drive traffic to your website?
  • Do you have a monitoring system to track the website migration and fix any emerging issues immediately?
  • Finally, is the new .au domain vital for your business? Other than purchasing it to avoid someone else squatting on it, what does the .au tag add to your online value? Does it outweigh the risks of a website migration?

READ MORE: Let’s Talk: SEO strategies – what really drives traffic?

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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