We’ve discussed a few times the importance of maintaining your brand online here at BeKonstructive Marketing. Every piece of your digital presence is like a little crumb leading towards your one-true-owned platform: your website. Most businesses register a domain close to their recognised business name, ensure their domain registration doesn’t run out, and then call it a day. But what if we told you there are extra steps you should be taking when you look at buying domains?
March 2022 brings the launch of brand new .au direct domains to the Australian digital market. But what is it, why is it important, and what steps should you be taking to protect your brand?
A Crash Course in Domain Extensions
Your domain extension is the part at the end of your domain that indicates a bunch of clues about the type of business, organisation, or group that is operating under the domain. For example:
- .com – this is the most extensively used domain extension. Over 48% of websites globally use this extension
- .org – this is usually reserved for not-for-profit organisations
- .edu – education institutions use this one
- .gov – reserved for government websites
After the domain extension, there may also be a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD).
- .au – an Australian website
- .nz – a New Zealand website
- No ccTLD – this is either a global or an American based website. (Because the internet doesn’t exist outside of America, obviously)
Why should I care about domain names, anyway?
Most Australian businesses are familiar with .com.au domains, and may automatically assume if you secure your .com.au domain then that’s it, job done, no point thinking any further about silly domains. But it’s actually really important to consider registering domains similar to yours to ensure you and your customers aren’t victims of domain hijacking.
We’ve heard a few horror stories in our time of companies that deliberately mislead their competitors’ customers into thinking they’re the real deal – and both the customers and the competitors are none the wiser.
Here at BeKonstructive Marketing, we’ve registered a few domain names that redirect to the main BeKonstructive Marketing website (aka where you’re reading this blog). This ensures no one can take a similar domain name to ours and then lead current or prospective customers to, at minimum, a prank (think Pauline Hanson’s expired domain story of 2021), or at worst, targeted phishing or poaching.
Some of the domains we have registered include:
And you can bet when the new .au domains are released we’ll be registering that one, too.
What are .au domains?
The new .au domains releasing on March 24th open up millions (probably more like billions) of new domain options for Australian-based websites. The thought behind these new domains is that website addresses will be shorter, particularly for sharing on social media (it’s just three letters, but okay, go off).
The restrictions around the new .au domains are the same as those that currently exist for .com.au, .net.au, and .org.au. In order to register for a .au domain, you must be a business trading in Australia, including:
- sole traders
- registered businesses
- registered charities
This ensures that, like any other domain with Australian ccTLDs, .au domains are reserved for these businesses or organisations, adding a layer of preconceived legitimacy to their website.
If there is one key takeaway to remember about the .au domains it’s this – just because you own the rights to the .com.au, .net.au etc domain, you will not automatically own the new .au variation of your current domain.
How can additional domains secure your brand?
Holding the license to domains with different domain extensions can help your customers find you faster. Having the ability to redirect those domains to your own website can help customers who mistakenly type your name in with the incorrect domain extension (ie .net.au instead of .com.au). Ultimately, securing additional domains can help to ensure that customers who are ready to convert, can convert.
Securing additional domains can also help protect your brand from deliberate harm. Say, for example, a direct competitor or a disgruntled former employee is able to secure a domain similar to yours. With a similar name, imagery, and services, they may be able to successfully lead your customers away from you, with neither you nor the customer being the wiser.
Owning the rights to the variations of your domain helps significantly to secure your brand online. We currently own those four variations of our domain to ensure that we are able to maintain our brand and reputation if a similarly named business comes along – whether maliciously or not.
Should you look into acquiring your .au domain? (Spoiler: yes)
If you’re serious about protecting your business’ brand image online, you should definitely look into the new .au domains.
Considering domain names here in Australia generally run for around $15 per year – the cost-benefit analysis of securing another one or two to secure your brand integrity is pretty overwhelmingly positive, wethinks.
There is an added benefit of looking into the new .au domains sooner rather than later. Current holders of .com.au / .net.au etc. domains will be able to apply for their new .au domain before they are opened up to the general public on a first-come-first-serve basis. That means that we will be offered the first opportunity to purchase our .au domain name – if we pass on the offer, or don’t purchase it before the cut-off date, then anyone will be able to purchase our .au domain name.
Next steps to securing your .au domain
How do I secure my new .au domain before anyone else?
The Australian Domain Name Authority (auDA) have put in place a really smart idea to ensure that long-standing Australian businesses and organisations can have their first pick of domains. From March 24 to September 20 2022 auDA is holding some .au domains during their Priority Allocation period.
The Priority Allocation period allows businesses or organisations that want to register an exact match of their existing domain as a .au direct to secure the new domain before it can be bought by another organisation.
There are some caveats to this however – applicants that register for the same .au direct domain are given preference based on a few factors.
Applicants are divided into two categories based on when they have held their domain license. Category 1 applicants have held their domain license since before Feb 4 2018, and Category 2 applications are those who have held their domain license from Feb 2 2018 onwards. There are a bunch of “if this, then that”s based on these categories, which is explained pretty nicely in this auDA fact sheet.
If you don’t have any competition for a .au domain license however, you are able to secure it before the first-come-first-serve period in late September this year. To register for the Priority Application process, make sure to check out the auDA resources here.
How do I purchase my new domain license when the time comes?
Log into whatever provider / platform you have registered your existing domain names with and purchase it. Australian domains generally cost around $15 per year (depending on your platform or provider), so it isn’t too much out of your pocket to secure a new .au domain.
If you want this domain to redirect to your current website rather than just know the domain is secured, that’s where it gets a little more involved with whichever hosting provider you use. If you have a team of web developers or digital marketers (like us!) that currently help you and you’re feeling a little out of depth, you can always reach out to them to talk about your next steps once you own your shiny new domain.
tl;dr spend a little bit to save a lot
For the cost of adding an additional domain to your current service plan you are protecting your domain from someone who may maliciously want to poach or prey on your business or customers. Your brand’s reputation is worth so much more than the (less than) $100 it takes to secure or redirect a couple more domains.