When you’re picking the domain name of your website you can run into some hurdles to your assumptions about getting one. The biggest one is, someone already has it. This hits the hardest when you (or someone) spent so much time and energy, now or as a legacy inheritance, figuring out the perfect name for your business, only to find out that someone has bought its domain name iteration. Many times, as I later suggest you do, that same person or company has bought the variants of that name, too. Domain names are not only a prerequisite to having a live website, they are vital to its success on multiple levels… but only if you choose and use it right, and hold onto it.
This is the unique name that ties your website to the internet, and is the main part (or top level domain - TLD) and domain extension (.com, .au etc.) of your site’s web uniform resource locator (URL). So, your web address. For example, our client’s All Lift Forklifts and Access Equipment’s domain is allliftforklifts(specific TDL).com.au(extension, general TDL). Domain names are managed by a domain registry who delegate the reservation of domain names to registrars (people who own, or want to own, a domain). Anyone who wants a website can register a domain name with a registrar. You just need to hope it hasn’t been taken by someone already…
Other than the fact that they’re the digital HQ for your business, and you have no unique online presence without one, they also play their own role in the success of your website. Having a unique domain name gives your users an intuitive direct access point to your site, and offers them a greater sense of trust through legitimacy. For example, exact match domain (EDM) names (your domain is the name of your business) helps to have your business rank in search engine results page (SERP), and reassures the user that they’re heading to the right business’s site. You can eliminate confusion and suspicion for both the user and Google.
As mentioned, the exact match domain is the best way to go. If you can’t get that, go as close as you can, and get creative if you need to. For example, due to domain ownership issues, Zimple opted for zimple.digital.
The extension is the other part of your domain to consider. For the majority of business websites, .com or .com.au are popular. You have probably also noticed other extensions. Here are what they mean:
.com is short for ‘commercial’ (so, most businesses and websites)
.net is short for ‘network’. While anyone can use this, it has typically been unofficially reserved for tech companies and database providers.
.org is universally recognised as being for non-profit organisations (you don’t legally have to be to obtain a .org domain, but you are sending a disingenuous message if you use one and are not a charity).
.gov and .edu are restricted domains and must only be used for websites that are government or education sites.
If you are choosing a new business name, you should be concurrently checking if the exact match (or as close to it as possible) domain name is available; these decisions should go hand in hand. If you’re inheriting a name from a legacy business, you can still get lucky with it being available. Otherwise, you might have to get crafty or flexible in your business name and/or your domain name. If you already have a domain name, particularly an exact match, it’s vital you hold onto it. How? Remain its owner! Domain names come with an ongoing fee, for a set period of time. If you are the owner, you’ll get reminders from the register to retain your domain. If you miss the cut off period before renewing your ownership, you risk someone else taking it.
It is wise to not just buy the domain name you intend on using for your website. You can also buy close to exact iterations that, if owned by someone else, could be confusing to future customers or clients. For example, our client MCL Locksmiths own mcllocksmiths.com.au; it would be advantageous for them to also own mcllocksmith.com, mcllocksmith.com.au, mcllocksmiths.net etc. Fees are relatively minor compared to the potential loss of revenue from users going to the wrong website.
You aren’t only protecting your domain name from competitors, either. Renewing your ownership also protects you from cyber attacks and cybercriminals. There are entire operations dedicated to snatching up expired domains and utilising them for criminal means. Particularly with the new changes and opportunities for domain names in Australia…
As at March 2022 (and up until September 20, 2022), any business previously registered with a .com.au. .net.au, .org.au etc. will have their specific TDL up for grabs as a .au iteration (dropping the .com etc.). The upshot for business owners is that it offers a streamlined domain that is more widely available. The downside is that if you don’t secure the .au version of your domain, you are at risk of someone else doing it.