.au domains have landed in Australia.
If you own a website domain (aka your web address) ending in .com.au, you can register for the newer, shorter Australian domain extension of .au.
Yep, businesses and organisations in Australia will be able to ditch the .com. For example, our domain name of themarketingside.com.au could be simplified to themarketingside.au.
If your business supports the following domain namespace, you’re also eligible to change to .au:
But there’s a catch!
auDA (.au Domain Administration Limited), the governing body who develops and administers the rules for domain names in the .au country code, are running a Priority Allocation Process until 20 September 2022. There is a six-month window for current .com.au domain holders to secure the direct match of their current domain name to .au.
Domain holders have until 20 September to secure their exact domain name match (for example, themarketingside.au). Once the Priority Allocation Period ends, that name will become publicly available on a first come, first served basis.
What do .au domains mean for my business?
Your website is your business’ online home and it’s the most visible asset to your customers. Having a recognisable, memorable digital presence means your business can be found easily on the internet. The new .au domains are uniquely Australian domains, which helps Australian businesses and organisations build credibility with potential clients and website visitors. It’s a genuine way to get noticed by consumers who want to go out of their way to support local businesses.
New domain names provide an additional opportunity to build your brand and protect your digital assets. When you secure your business’ exact .au match, you stop other companies from owning and using your domain. You’ve spent too much time and effort building your brand to let someone else take it from you because you didn’t take action.
It’s also super important for brand integrity to own and control ALL your brand assets, and this is true when it comes to .au domains. The average domain cost varies between $10-$50 a year depending on your domain provider. For the sake of a few dollars, locking up any or all domain names relating to your business is 100% worth the investment.
I already own a .com.au domain. Can I buy .au domains?
If you currently have a .com.au domain, you are eligible to apply for its .au domain counterpart. You must be the registered domain owner and own the .com au at this point in time to be eligible to apply, but that is only until 20 September 2022.
If you own multiple domain name variations you can set up a ‘redirect’ that works as a net, catching all searches relating to your business and directing visitors to your website. For example, The Marketing Side owns themarketingside.com.au, themarketingside.com and themarketingside.au. All these domains point to the same website, because we set up a ‘redirect’ to the main domain where the website is hosted.
How do I register for .au domains?
Once you’ve decided on an available domain name, you will need to select a registrar (domain provider) to register your domain name with. (At The Marketing Side, we use and recommend Australian company ventraip.com.au). If you already own a .com or .com.au domain name, you can purchase .au domains through your current domain provider.
Registrars/domain providers are companies accredited by auDA to offer .au domain name services to the public. Prices and levels of service vary between providers. A list of auDA accredited registrars can be found on the auDA website.
If you have questions about registering for a .au domain name, talk to your web developer or your IT expert.
I’m a start-up business and don’t have a domain yet, what do I do?
To avoid messy transitions and risk losing your preferred domain name, it’s important to secure both .com.au and .au domains when you start your business. Building a website is like building a home: you need to start with a solid foundation so you can build a quality, memorable asset that will last.
Owning your business’ name on the internet is an essential branding exercise, and just good business. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Why the change to .au domains?
The addition of .au domains is the biggest innovation to domains in over 20 years. It comes after an auDA review found that most online content is consumed by users on their phones. They also identified a need to crack down on what defined an Australian business online. The change was also implemented to bring us into line with our international peers – United Kingdom (.uk), New Zealand (.nz), Canada (.ca), France (.fr), China (.cn) and Germany (.de).
According to auDA, the stricter licencing rules are to ensure that .au domains are reserved for Australian businesses, or organisations with genuine connections to Australia.
To own a .com.au domain name in Australia currently, purchasers need to hold an ABN (Australian Business Number). To purchase .org.au, organisations must be a registered charity or not-for-profit group. The entire process of purchasing .au domains will be managed by auDA, so domain holders can lodge a complaint if someone tries to buy a domain name that’s not relevant to them.
What do the experts say?
To get a better understanding of the .au domain changes, we spoke to IT expert Glenn Chapman, Managing Director of Gravity IT Solutions.
“Most people aren’t comfortable with the not-normal domains yet. They are a little hesitant and don’t know if they can trust them” said Glenn.
“My personal email doesn’t follow the usual .com.au domain structure, and I get queries about it all the time. People are concerned that it isn’t legit, because it looks different. I think people will be hesitant about the new domains for a while yet, so my advice is to roll out the new .au domain name slowly”.
As a business owner, it’s important to avoid customer confusion, but you also don’t want to lose people who may be using the new domain in their online search.
Glenn suggests setting up a redirect from the new .au domain to your existing website domain. “That way, you can redirect all the traffic from multiple domains and you don’t miss anyone”.
If you are looking for a short, simple domain name with three or four letters, Glenn says now is the time to act.
“Short domains like that are almost impossible to get currently with .com.au. So, if you are desperate to shorten your email addresses – if your business name is very long, for instance – it could be a great way to go. If a punchy, short domain is vital for your business, now’s a great time to grab it”.
But before you rush off to lock in your new .au domain, be sure to carefully consider acronyms, as you don’t want to create unnecessary competition with unconnected brands or confusion amongst your customer base. Our blog on choosing a business name suggests a few helpful things to consider during this process.
For more information about domain names talk to your website developer or IT expert.
The new .au domain is a new concept for Australian businesses, so it may take time to catch on. Like most new things, it can be slow to start but when people begin jumping on the bandwagon, the fight for a spot can get ugly.
From a marketing and branding perspective, our best advice is to:
2. Consider setting up a redirect from the .au domain to your existing domain to catch any traffic.
3. Sit tight for a while to see how consumers adapt to the addition of a new domain option before changing your website domain.