For businesses, your brand, including your domain name, is your digital identity, an important asset. It is therefore critical that your identity is clear and protected. Regardless if your business is large or small, it is vital to have strategies in place, ensuring your brand is managed effectively.
Any business owner knows how important it is to have a good website. In Australia, the most common domain name is .com.au. Additionally, licensing rules have also changed as of April 12, 2021. These licensing rules are essentially rules for how the new .au extension will work, including details around dispute resolution and how complaints are to be handled.
The new .au domain extension offers higher visibility online and lets people know that you are a trusted Australian business. This also mean that you’ll be seeing .au extensions on sites around the internet, and not just .com.au.
Why do I need to protect my brand?
As we said earlier, Your online brand and domain name is your digital identity. More importantly, Australian consumers recognise and trust the .au domain name extension.
Users know to look out for it, which highly significant for local ecommerce organisations who ship goods and provide services in Australia. The .au extension can also be considered as your badge of trust, unlike any other trust signals your web designer would use in building trust with your customer.
- Protecting your brand online leads to improved sales by removing cheap counterfeits taking away business.
- You’ll be deemed authentic, and your products will be seen as more reliable and of higher quality.
- Creative work won’t be stolen by others, lest they want legal action.
- Distributors, retailers, and other partners are much more inclined to engage and work with you.
Why should you get a .au direct domain for your business?
The new .au direct namespace lifts Australia to be at par with other countries who already have top-level domains, such as Canada (.ca), New Zealand (.nz), United Kingdom (.uk), and USA (.us).
Apart from being at par with the rest of the world, other benefits that it brings to Australian domain owners are:
- Your domain name becomes shorter and more memorable. A .au domain name has fear characters, making it easier for your clients and customers to remember and type on their browsers.
- It becomes available to a wider range of Australian entities. A .au direct domain will be available to any business, organisation, government, and even individuals.
- It secures your branding. By registering your exact match .au direct domain, it will protect your brand from other entities who might unscrupulously take it and register it for themselves.
It will also ensure that all online traffic to your business will be directed to land on your website instead of a competitor or a copycat site.
- It helps in protecting your online reputation. Likewise, it can help in preventing cybercriminals from registering your exact match .au domain name and using it for purposes that might besmirch or malign your business’ online and offline reputation.
- Proves that you’re Australian. Eligibility requirements set by the auDA policy requires registrants to meet special criteria as outlined in the policy. It may seem daunting at first, but consider that this requirement stops someone from overseas coming in and registering the names of Australian businesses.
It may help with your ranking on Google. Having an .au name helps Google understand where your business is based. If you happen to use only a .com, Google would have a harder time ranking you for local searches.
Essentially, there are three strategies you need to follow to protect your brand online.
- Research your preferred name to see if it is already registered and being used by someone else. Proactively registering your desired name, including its common variations and misspellings, might seem like a waste of money.
However, paying for names you won’t use is a much cheaper alternative than legally having to stop someone from using your name later on.
- Constantly monitor the web for potential misuse of your name. An example would be you have a registered business and domain name for your auto shop: ‘fancywheels.com.au’. You have a successful business and people are sourcing you out online.
But alas, when you go searching for yourself, you learn someone else has registered ‘fancy-wheels.com.au’ and is capitalising on consumer confusion to attract prospects to their website instead of yours.
- You need legal assistance from a domain-savvy firm to correct situations such as those cited above.
What is the new .au domain?
The Australian Domain Administration (auDA) has released a second level domain name. It is the shortened version of the extensions that we Australians are used to seeing. For example, our own domain name accentuate.com.au can now be accentuate.au after registering for the update.
Individuals can now apply for a .au domain name, which began last March 24, 2022. There is a six-month priority application period from March 24 up to September 20, 2022. It is advisable to apply during this time if you want to retain your domain name to remain exactly the same as your current one.
Doing so is a great idea if you want to redirect people to your existing .com.au site, and prevent other people from taking your name. We’ll discuss this more in detail down below.
The priority application period in essence reserves a name. If you happen to not register during the allotted time, then the name goes to the first person to apply for it when the priority period ends in September.
If you want to know more about how you can change your domain name, proceed to their official website for .au at auDA. We encourage you to familiarise yourself with auDA following this change, by reading through their Domain Administration Rules.
You can also refer to this fact sheet prepared by auDA containing all the information you might need about the .au direct namespace and the Priority Allocation process. For a more comprehensive detail on the new .au domain’s registration requirements, visit Direct Priority Implementation.
Accentuate Web Design and Marketing’s advice
Australia’s .au is a potential economic attraction that could also make it a huge target for cybersquatting.
If you happen to own a .com.au, .net.au, org.au, or .id.au, we highly recommend that you register it and/or its equivalents in other second-level domains between March 24 and September 20, 2022. Take advantage of auDA’s priority registration on this domain name.
If you wish to obtain priority on the .au direct namespace, you should check the status of your current domain name registration and renew it as necessary. Your brand can also be trademarked to help you secure an exact .au direct domain name and avoid possible disputes.