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Is .com or .com.au Better for My Australian Business Domain?

It’s a question I asked myself when I first started, and if I’m being honest I agonised over it for hours, days… weeks! It seems like such a simple question… but it’s not. There are so many different factors to consider when choosing the right domain extension for your business. 

Now looking at my domain I clearly went with .com.au, but it wasn’t my first choice. I actually juuuust missed out on the .com version… but I’m not going to go into that now, it’s a long story I’ll save for another time.

Everyone you speak to will have a different opinion on whether you should be using .com or .com.au for your Australian based business. But it really does depend on you, your business and your business goals.

Before we dive into that we should look at exactly what .com and .com.au are, so let’s start there!

What is .com and .com.au?

.com

.com is a TLD (Top Level Domain) and it’s the most widely recognised domain extension. It was first added in 1985 and it is derived from the word ‘commercial’. This domain extension is one of the original TLDs, the others are .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, .org and .int.

.com.au

.com.au is a ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain) and is allocated for Australian businesses. There are some rules that apply to owning a .com.au domain. But generally speaking, as long as you have an ABN (Australian Business Number) you can apply for a .com.au for 1-5 years.

Ok so now that we know the difference between them, it’s time to start thinking about what option is best suited for your business. 

I’ve condensed it down to 4 important factors for you to consider when choosing your domain. They are; where your business and target market are located, if you have plans to scale internationally, is it available to buy and what your budget is. 

Where is your business based and where is your target market located?

If you answered Australia to that, then that’s the first sign you should be using a .com.au domain, this is for two reasons:

Trust and Familiarity

Using .com.au immediately identifies you as an Australian business. I have seen countless discussions in business groups with people saying that when they see .com.au it instils a sense of trust. Not only that, but more and more now people are wanting to support local business, this immediately identifies you as an Australian business as you can’t actually own a .com.au domain without an ABN.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

As mentioned above .com.au is a ccTLD, and that provides an extra layer of information for search engines to use as a ranking factor for your website. For example, if you are in Ireland and you search for ‘best hairdresser in Dublin’ it is highly unlikely you will see any results with a .com.au domain. Google has crawled through all websites and has determined that a hairdresser in Australia with a .com.au domain is not a relevant search result for someone in Dublin, Ireland looking for a hairdresser. Since you need an ABN to register a .com.au, search engines can be confident that the only people using .com.au domains are Australian businesses.

Do you currently or in the future offer your services globally?

If the answer is yes, then you should seriously be considering .com.

We covered earlier that it is unlikely for a .com.au domain to be found in another country, .com being one of the original TLDs has a huge amount of power worldwide and has a higher chance of appearing in search engines results worldwide.

Is .com available?

Given its popularity, it is harder to find .com domains that are available to purchase. If you have decided on your business name and you search for the .com and it is not available, well then I guess your decision has been made for you.

You can easily search for domain availability online, my preferred website is GoDaddy to purchase domains and they have an easy Domain Availability Search.

What is your budget?

There are a lot of people out there who make a lot of money from buying and selling domains. To give you an idea of how much money I’m talking about, just while writing this blog post I went to Google Domains and searched for prettywebsites.com

$5000!!!!!

I know what you’re thinking though why would you pay $5000 for a domain. Two words (or acronyms) SEO and ROI.

SEO

If someone went to Google and searched ‘pretty website’, there is a high chance your website would appear on page one of the search results.

ROI

That little SEO boost you got, all you would need to do is sell 1-2 websites to make back the investment. 

Now let’s search for the .com.au variation of this.

Much more affordable right? Couple reasons for that, first being to own .com.au you need to have an ABN. According to abs.gov.au as of June 2021 there were approximately 2.4 million active businesses in Australia. That means 2.4 million businesses are allowed to buy this domain, versus .com which is available to everyone and with the current world population close to hitting 8 billion well you can see you’ve got a bit more competition.

Now the second reason, we’re going back to local SEO. Yes it’s still a valuable domain, but it’s only really valuable to you if you have an Australian business or are doing business in Australia.

So those are the things you should be considering when choosing a domain; where you are located, where your clients are located, your future plans for scaling, domain availability and your budget.

What would I do if both were available and both were reasonably priced? Buy both! Why wouldn’t you? 

If you’re still unsure of what is the best option for you and your business I’m happy to chat it through with you. Get in touch via my contact page.

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