Before you register a web address:
What's a domain name and web address?
A domain name is a unique name corresponding to one or more IP addresses (e.g. johnnosmith.com.au).
A web address reflects a domain name (e.g. www.johhnosmith.com.au), and is sometimes referred to as a URL or Uniform Resource Locator.
A web address is how people find your website on the internet. People can type your web address straight into a browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari on their computer, or into the internet application on their smart phone or tablet. People using a search engine like Google or Bing can also find your website by typing in a question or keywords, and searching.
You may also use your domain name in your email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org.) To set up an email address you'll also need to purchase an email service or hosting, which is different to registering a web address.
Choose the right web address
In general the best web addresses:
- reflect the name of your business
- are three syllables or less, such as Yahoo!
- are easy to remember, pronounce, spell and type
- are alliterative, for example beyondblue and Firefox
- are also available for registration via social media channels.
Some people argue a good web address is one that people are searching for online and come up in search engines, for example Melbourne plumbers. Use the Google Trends tools to check high search terms.
Others argue a good web address (and business) will be unique or distinct, such as for Google so it stands out in a crowded market, and won't have to compete for web traffic online because of searches for popular terms.
Integrate with social media
If you're planning to use social media to market your business, it's a good idea to check if the name you want is also available on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media channels you'd like to use. When you start marketing your business online, using social media channels makes it easier to send integrated messages to your customers – make sure you note these down in your marketing plan.
How to find out if a web address is available to register
A quick way to find out if a web address is available is to use a WHOIS service, such as the one provided for free by Afilias. If your preferred name is available and will not be in breach of any law, the next step is to register it for your business. If you engage a third party, such as a website developer to register your domain name on your behalf, be sure the domain name is registered in your name or business entity. This can avoid potential issues down the track.
Register the web address
If your preferred web address is available, you can register it at any one of over a dozen accredited registration organisations or their resellers. For a list of accredited domain name registrars, visit the Australian Domain Name Administrator's (auDA) website. These are organisations authorised by auDA to provide services to people who want to:
- register a new web address
- renew their existing address
- make changes to their record.
.au domain names
Second level .au domains (as opposed to third level domains such as .com.au) are anticipated to be available in Q4 of 2019. Unlike .com.au domains, .au domains will not require ABN or ACN checks which means early stage companies and start ups can register for a .au domain earlier in their business journey and have their online presence easily identified as an Australian based entity.
This can be important as previously individuals or organisations that did not have an ABN or ABN were limited to .com, .net, .info and .biz domains which do not hold the same trust level as Australian based .au domains.
Register your web address before you need a website
Consider registering your web address as soon as you know what it will be, even if you're not planning to build a website for a few months, or even for a few years! This will ensure you own the domain name, and nobody else can register it, so it will be ready when you launch your business.
If you're already running a business and have staff working for you, you should already have a website policy in place, consider using our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy and I.T. procedures manual to document this.