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Typical. You go looking for the name of your business online as a domain name. And it’s already taken. Sigh. You could fight them via the relevant authorities, but that could take a long time. Or you could get creative.

There are a few approaches you can take when choosing a domain name for your business. And there are pros and cons to them all. Here’s a few cases to consider.

Your Business Name as Your Domain Name

This is the usual response a business will take. So if your business is registered with ASIC as “ABC123 Law” then it makes sense to have your website be called “abc123law.com.au.” Right? After all, if someone is going to take a guess at where your website is and they already know the name of your business, this is the guess that they might make. But then again, they might put in “acb123law.com” instead. Which could take them to some other site completely.But let’s face it, most people are either going to click a link somewhere else, like Facebook, to come to your website OR they will search for something far more generic in Google – something like “divorce lawyer in nerang.” And does a domain name like “abc123law.com.au” help you in that respect? Probably not on it’s own. In fact, Search Engine Optimisation is equal parts alchemy and black magic these days, so it won’t hurt or help you. It’s basically an address. It’s a lot like asking, if 13 Barawahahathingamajig Drive, Nerang is hard to find because of how hard to pronouce it’s name is. By that logic, Brown Street, Nerang would be easy to find. However, Barawahahathingamajig Drive may be just off the main highway, whereas Brown Street could be several left and right turns of the highway, across a river, through a forest and in to a magical glade that you need a password to be able to enter. The domain name itself is no indication of how easy it is for Google to find and index your sites – HOWEVER, for those few people who are looking for you by name, “abc123.com.au” is going to be easier to tyope straight in to a browser than “abc123legaladvisorsnadbusinessrepresentatives.com.au.”

What you do as Your Domain Name

This seems logical too. You’re a locksmith. So why not choose “locksmith.com.au?” well that’s obviously becuase it’s taken. But your locksmith business is located at the southern end of the Gold Coast and you prefer to work locally to avoid the long drives and fuel, so you think that “southerngoldcoastlocksmith.com.au” might do the trick. You’re both right and wrong, for similar reasons to the above.It’s not like someone will deliberately type “southerngoldcoastlocksmith” in their browser. Even if they type something similar, it’s going to be a search term “locksmiths in currumbin.” So there is no advantage to the “trade and location” style of domain name.However there may… and I say, “MAY” with very defined quotation marks be some search engine optimisation advantage to it. Especially if your domain is more like “currumbinlocksmiths.com.au” then your very domain name contains the words that are being searched for. Which is great if ONLY people in Currumbin search for locksmiths. And I can safely guess that isn’t true.

Lots of localised domain names on lots of landing pages

Landing pages are all the rage right now. They’re small, simple websites, often just with the one page that has a specific domain name for a specific purpose. For example, the local newspaper might be “goldcoastbulletin.com.au” but their Christmas Lights directory and competition may be handled via “santoschristmaslights.com.au” to highlight their major sponsor.Likewise, if you’re a, say, lawn-mowing business, then perhaps you could take the approach of creating mini-websites for all the locations that you are in.How about “benowlawnmowing.com.au” for people in Benowa and “hopeislandlawnmowing.com.au” for people in Hope Island. Add “southportlawnmowing.com.au,” “labradorlawnmowing.com.au,” and “ashmorelawnmowing.com.au” for good measure. It might seem simple to just point them all to the same website, however there is no actual Google benefit to this. As there is no actual website at “ashmorelawnmowing.com.au.” There’s just a redirection to “goldcoastlawns.com.au.”The solution here is to go and build a separate website for each of these locations. Easy right? Not really. Google is way smarter than that. Because your websites are all likely sitting on the same web server with the same IP address and all contain the exact same content, photos and information, Google is going to assume that you’re just trying to trick them and penalise you.The way around it? Well, it could be as simple as having having different text, images and material on each site to make it seem less like they are all related to each other. But it’s likely to be as complicated as you neededing to have 5 different websites with 5 different lots of copywriting, images and content. Plus then you’d need the 5 sites all on different webservers with different IP addresses. You can see how it gets really complicated after that. You may even need to go so far as to have a different business address, phone number and email address listed on each one! Crazy!

What I would do?

Create a brand for your business. Then buy the domain name that matches that brand. So, for example, I created a brand called “Clickstarter.” I bought “clickstarter.com.au” for it. But then I set about making sure that it was obvious to everyone I met what my brand was. On business cards, stickers, pens, shirts. Upon meeting people I would be introduced as Dante from Clickstarter just so that a conversation would be started aroung “how clever that name is.” I joined business networks, plastered myself all over Facebook, Instagram and ensured that I will covering closed and open networks with the name Clickstarter. Then I made sure that every piece of email correspondance I had was from my Clickstarter domain. The point I am making here is that your domain is part of a much broader strategy. On it’s own, it’s not what will make you get known well, get found easily on search engines and stay in the top-of-mind to your potential customers. It’s just one of many tools.And those tools include:

  • Search Engine Optimisation – making sure that the meta data for each page of your website is made to attract the right search queries on Google. As well as all the other things I mentioned in this article.
  • Advertising on Google, Facebook and other digital media
  • Making sure your branding is in the right places at the right times
  • Making sure that your off-line networking is happening regularly through business breakfasts, chambers of commerce, BNI groups and Meetups
  • Ensuring that you have a solid and consistent message being shared about your brand on all media
  • Partnering with other good businesses that will cross-reference you online and refer you clients offline

And I could go on with many other things you need to have happening that show that a good domain name is just part of a broadstroke strategy to build your business.

The importance of .com.au

Finally I’ll share just a few words about the importance of using a .com.au domain. If you’re wanting to reach a worldwide audience then a .com.au address will limit you. You are far better using .com. But if you’re only aiming for an Australian market, then .com.au is better, but not  necessarily from a Search Engine Optimisation perspective. Search Engine algorithms are far too complex these days to place a blanket preference on .com.au domains within Australia over .com domains. There are literally hundreds of combinations of factors that play in to why some sites rank higher than others. And the domain name has little to do with any of it.However, to a consumer, it is possible that having a .com.au domain will portray credibility. If for no other reason, than that you have to posess an Australian Business Number (ABN) to own a .com.au domain name. Now not every consumer will know this – or care. But to those who know this, it may be an important factor in them trusting you over another site with a .com domain.

Take aways

Whatever you choose to do with a domain, every options is right… and wrong. The world of search engines and marketing are complex and whilst there are advantages to some, there are also disadvantages. The important step is to choose what you feel is right for your business, then seek a second opinion from a professional who can help you make considerations that you might not have thought of. But when you do make a decision, go all-in with it. Far more harmful than making a decision that isn’t the best, is making a decision that is only half-hearted. By going only partially down a path to digital marketing, you actually end up in a negative promotional space. Choose wisely. But once you do choose, step boldy.

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