ShortPress problem solver: should you choose .com or .com.au?

Sam McKeith

There are the big questions to address when you’re setting up a business – how can I source investment? Is my business plan rock solid? Do I know my target market well enough?

Then there are the little questions that can turn into big ones if you don’t have your wits about you.

A great example of one such question is – what domain name extension should you choose when you’re setting up your website; the global-oriented .com or the Aussie-focused .com.au.

Small business and start-up consultant, Ijan Kruizinga, said the priority should be to aim big and go for the .com.

The former chief executive of Crucial Cloud Hosting said .com extensions were the most sought after and were considered the most impressive worldwide.

“That’s the ideal situation because it allows you to have what is viewed as a global reach and global brand,” Kruizinga says.

“If you’re going with a .com.au domain it’s in effect saying that what you’re really focused on is Australia.

However, one big factor against opting for a .com domain extension was cost.

Kruizinga said because these extensions were the most popular, their price was escalating sharply, with the asking price for some in excess of $10,000.

“There’s bulk purchases made and then they sit on them and wait for people who want them then they sell them - it’s a business in itself,” he said.

“The pricing will continue to go up.”

“There were previously some advantages with search engine optimisation based on your domain extension but that has drifted away now.”

But he says there are a couple of reasons to go for the local variant.

One of these, Kruizinga said, was because many companies starting out were targeting local customers.

“It will look favourable to people (in Australia) actually seeing the .com.au because they will associate that with being local and that could play in your favour,” he said.

Another perceived benefit was that a com.au domain extension could give you a boost in Google searches.

Although, Kruizinga said any search engine optimisation advantage was on the wane as Google increasingly looked at factors that impacted relevance, like keywords.  

“There were previously some advantages with search engine optimisation based on your domain extension but that has drifted away now,” he said.

“Google has moved to content rather than things like domains when it comes to search rankings.”

Another factor to keep in mind according to Kruizinga was that to get a .com.au extension, your business needed to be registered in Australia.

He said the big trend these days was that some companies, especially in the tech sector, were shunning both .com and .com.au for alternate extensions like .cc and .io after a “massive release” of extra choices in 2015.

There were a number of domain name registrars that made these more exotic extensions available to Australians. 

“They feature basically all of the extensions that are available and it’s a good place to go if you want to get an extension that’s not generally available,” he said.

Sam McKeith

Sam McKeith is Sydney-based media professional. He has contributed to many leading publications including The Huffington Post, The Australian Financial Review, The Australian and BRW Magazine. He was previously a senior reporter at the Australian Associated Press where he covered national affairs. 

Entrepreneurs have to make a number of seemingly small decisions when starting out; whether that be – should you do your own social media marketing, do you need a mentor, or simply how to get off the ground on a budget. Not all decisions are easy so make sure you check out all our hints and tips for all the answers big or small.  

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