Registering a domain name: First steps

You have choices

Registering a domain name for a website is always a major decision for a business, but recently the choice has become a little more difficult — in a good way. Today there are many more options to consider.

Register your domain name now

When I was registering a domain name for my personal site, which I wanted before the current multitude of domain name extensions became available, my first preference was .com.au. But with a very common name like Greg Chapman, GregChapman.com.au was naturally taken.

Gone are the days when .com.au was really the first and only choice for Australian businesses, particularly if you were providing a service just within Australia.

Other options were .net.au and .org.au, neither of which suited. However, as I speak and write on business, I am now (and have been for many years) the proud owner of the domain name GregChapman.biz.

I could have added a hyphen to my name to obtain a .com.au address, but it was less elegant and might easily be confused with my namesake’s website. While it was a compromise, it turned out very well for me (just Google my name!).

Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention.

New options for small business

Registering a Domain Name Soda Fountain
No longer is .com.au the only domain extension available to Australia businesses.
Photo: Adam Wilson on Unsplash

Today, you can choose from hundreds of domain extensions, but using them as a workaround when someone else has beaten you to your desired .com.au is just one reason to pick one of them.

If you are a business based in Melbourne or Sydney, you can choose the .melbourne or .sydney extensions. One look and everyone will know where you’re located.

This might give you a conversion advantage for your listing if you are offering local services in only those regions. Unfortunately, other Australian locations are unavailable at this time, but more extensions are being added all the time. Alternatively, if you are a plumber, .plumbing is also available, along with dozens of industry-related extensions, including:

Registering a domain name with one of these extensions might be the way to make your website stand out from your competitors when buyers are seeking your products or services.

The keyword question

One question I hear is whether such extensions will help in search engine optimization (SEO). So far, Google has indicated that its focus is on returning the most relevant results for its users. So if the extension you choose is relevant to your business, it might help in some small way. But it’s likely that the more traditional SEO efforts will have greater weight.

The major consideration when selecting a new domain extension will be whether it will in some way create a greater positive perception among your customers than .com.au.

Another option is to register the .com.au of your business name as well as domain names using other extensions. Then just forward those secondary domain names to your primary domain name.

Registering a Domain Name Plumbing Van
Now there’s even a domain extension for plumbers — .plumbing.
Photo: Cynthia Donovan Some rights reserved

The new extensions might also allow you to shorten your domain name a little, so JohnSmithPlumbing.com.au becomes JohnSmith.plumbing. When it comes to domain names, shorter is always better.

At the moment, these domain extensions are relatively new and might make you stand out, but by the time most plumbers are using .plumbing, the novelty value will decline. At that point, if you are a plumber not using that extension, it might be a disadvantage.

Be smart about registering a domain name

With websites being the major lead generator for so many businesses today, it’s worth a few minutes of your time to check out the domain extensions in your sector. If you think one of them will make you stand out from the crowd, it only takes a few seconds to see if it’s available.

Image by: Christian Stahl on Unsplash