What is a domain name?

A domain name is a unique name that identifies your website's location on the internet. You can purchase a domain name that reflects your business name to make it easy for people to find you.

For example, our domain name is business.vic.gov.au. Yours might be johnnosmith.com.au

What is a web address?

A web address is what people type into their browser to find your site – or a specific page of your site – on the internet.

For your home page, your web address might be the same as your domain name. But if your website has multiple pages, then each page will have a different web address. A web address is also sometimes referred to as a URL or uniform resource locator.

For example, www.johnnosmith.com.au or www.johnnosmith.com.au/contact-us

How people find your website online

People might find your website in the following ways:

  • By typing your web address directly into a browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or into the internet application on their mobile device.
  • By entering a question or keywords into a search engine like Google or Bing.
  • By clicking through to your site from another site, from your Google Business profile on Google Maps or from your social media pages.

Choose the right domain name

Businesses usually choose a domain name that reflects the name of their business.

If that's not available or not suitable, in general the best domain names are:

  • short and punchy, such as yahoo.com
  • easy to remember, pronounce, spell and type
  • alliterative, for example beyondblue.org.au
  • also available for registration via social media channels

Some people argue a good domain name is one that people are searching for online and come up in search engines – for example, Melbourne plumbers.

Others argue a good domain will be unique or distinct so it stands out in search engines, and you won't have to compete for web traffic online because of searches for popular terms.

Whatever you choose, you can use Google Trends to check your ideas against popular search terms.

Integrate your domain name with social media

If you plan 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.

Find out if a domain is available

A quick way to find out if a domain name is available is to use a WHOIS service, such as this one provided for free by Afilias:

If your preferred name is available and will not breach any law such as Australia's Reserved List Policy, 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 domain name

If your preferred domain name is available, you can register it through one of the many accredited registration organisations or their resellers.

These registrars are organisations authorised by the .au Domain Administration (auDA) to provide services to people who want to:

  • register a new domain name
  • renew their existing address
  • make changes to their record

Register your domain before you need a website

Consider registering your domain as soon as you know what it will be, even if you're not planning to build a website for a few months or 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 documenting it in your IT policies and procedures manual.

If you don't have one, our IT manual guide has a free template to get you started.

Using your domain name in your email address

You can use your domain name in your email address. For example, sales@johhnosmith.com.au

To set up an email address you'll need to purchase an email service or hosting, which is different to registering a domain name.