Searching for and selecting a domain name is an important task, but choosing a website address is all too often not really thought through well enough.
Tips for choosing the best domain names
Choosing a domain name is a decision that you and your business or organisation may be living with for a long time - so ensure you acquire the best website name possible from your search efforts!
The following are some tips, guidelines and advice to consider when searching for and selecting the best Internet domain name for you.
1. Registering your business name as a domain
If you haven't done so yet, our advice is to register the Australian domain name equivalent of your business name as soon as possible - even if you intend to choose a different domain name to acquire for your actual web site.
The reason for this is that some people, known as "cybersquatters", make a career from searching for and registering other organisations and businesses names; then trying to sell the domains to the businesses (or another buyer) at an exorbitant price!
A competitor or disgruntled customer may also choose set up a website under your business name that may reflect poorly on your business or organisation. This can become particularly problematic if a potential customer runs a search on the domain name without using the extension and the 'cybersquatter' site comes up first.
While cybersquatting and this form of anti-competitive behaviour is not permitted by the Australian registry, you'll find it can be a lengthy and sometimes expensive process to regain control of an address through legal channels. Depending on the circumstances, the attempt may not always be successful.
We advise Australian businesses primarily doing business in Australia should always at the very least register .com.au and .com versions of their web names and should also consider registering domain names associated with their products and events for the same reasons as mentioned above.
Australian associations, non-profit organisations and other groups may find another domain extension best to acquire; .e.g .org.au. We'll discuss why you should choose particular Internet website address extensions later in this article.
2. Don't have a business name yet?
If you're just starting up and haven't chosen what you're going to call your business yet, it's a great opportunity to ensure you can register a domain name you like that can also be used as a business name. With the Internet playing such an important role in business these days, don't ever underestimate just how much of a difference putting in the time and effort to search for and acquire a good domain name can make to your sales over the long term - particularly a .com.au website address.
3. Generic word domains and their benefits
Searching for and finding a good domain name that's not already registered can be quite a challenge; particularly if generic words are involved, but the search is well worth the effort and a little easier when querying the Australian registry as there's usually less competition for address choices.
It's worthwhile considering registering a web name containing generic words related to your products and services, as it is easier for people to remember, but it may also have the best resale value if you should choose to sell your business and/or web site in the future. Additionally, generic words in an Internet domain name, whether hyphenated or not, can help you be found on search engines.
4. Don't rule out made-up names
While generic addresses and those with English language words are certainly good, you'll find a domain is what you make it - acquiring a completely made up address can be beneficial as it helps you stand out from the pack and develop a brand. A good example is Google - it wasn't a dictionary word prior to 2006 when it was so prevalent in communications due to Google's domination in search that it was included in the Oxford Dictionary.
5. Make a list of domain name search possibilities
Don't have your heart set on any one Australian web site address - our advice is to make a list of search possibilities as you may find some of your choices already taken.
6. WHOIS vs. search & registration tools
While using a domain registration WHOIS application to search as you come up with ideas to determine whether a name has been taken is a good way to go, registrars combine a domain search and register function to make the process of finding and securing a web site address simpler. That way you can quickly jump on a name if a domain search finds it available.
Please note that just typing an address into your browser will not be an accurate way to find out if an Australian domain name (or other website address) is already registered, as the vast majority of addresses currently registered are not in use.
7. Search for trademark and other conflicts
Here's a very important tip. It's best to check whether the web name you are registering may infringe on someone else's business name - usually you'll find a search on Google will reveal this or try searching the Australian Business Name (ABN) registry. You may also want to search for trademarks that may conflict.
However, note that generic terms cannot be trademarked to the point of the exclusion of others using the word combinations - so these sorts of Australian domain names are usually safe to register.
Since available generic one word website addresses (Australian and otherwise) are virtually impossible to find now, we advise choosing a two or three word combination domain name search that is strongly related to your products and services.
8. A domain name should be short and simple
The best domain name to choose is one that people find easy to remember, is easy to relay to someone over the telephone, easily entered into a search and should also be as brief as possible. Get more advice on the best domain name length.
9. Domain registration vs. hosting - understand the difference
Many people are under the impression that registering a domain name also includes web site hosting. It is important to understand that domain registration and web hosting are two completely separate services; but are often offered by the same service provider - for example, we are a domain registrar and a web host.
10. Covering your bases
You may also choose to register multiple domains; e.g., an abbreviation of your trading name, add a prefix or a suffix, or include a hyphen (-). As mentioned, our advice is to also consider registering additional domain names that reflect your brands, products, services, venue, events, activities, professions, and/or trademarks. If you have a brand name that is commonly misspelt, it is recommended that you also register the misspelling as a website address and redirect it to your main website.
11. More advice on domain name extensions
Aside from the Australia specific .au extensions, you'll find there are all sorts of web addresses available now you can search for your choices. The best known and recognised of the non-Australian versions are .com, .net, .org, .info and .biz. Here's some additional information and tips relating to each, plus relevant guidelines.
.com, .net, .org, .info, and .biz
.com, .net, .org, .info and .biz domain names can be registered by any organisation or individual; including in Australia, with .com having the best recognition and therefore the best choice for non-Australian domains. Should your preferred domain name be available in the .com domain space it would be wise to secure it as soon as practicable while it is still available.
A .com.au name is the Point Piper of Australian website address real estate for businesses. It has a high level of awareness and trust in Australian online shoppers.
To be eligible to register com.au or a net.au domain name, registrants must be:
an Australian registered company; or trading under a registered business name in any Australian State or Territory; or an Australian partnership or sole trader; or a foreign company licensed to trade in Australia; or an owner of an Australian Registered Trade Mark; or an applicant for an Australian Registered Trade Mark 1 ; or an association incorporated in any Australian State or Territory; or an Australian commercial statutory body.
And that's about all there is to choosing good domains that will not only help secure your business reputation online but also help you be found via search engines; which in turn will help you increase your sales or leads! Enjoy the web name choosing journey - make a start right now If you would like further advice on how to register a domain name, contact our friendly Australia-based registrar team or search our FAQ for additional tips.