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Part 1 – Domain Names Today are Serious Business

When you consider that typing a domain name into a browser is still the most common way people find websites and that email today is the most popular form of communication in business it is clear that the domain names registered by your company are one of its most valuable assets.

The integral role the Internet plays in business today means the domain name strategy of your company is important and should be treated as a high priority.  A short sighted approach to domain names can be expensive, particularly if another organisation registers your business name as a domain name and you need to make significant changes to the branding of your company.

I am constantly surprised that some Australian businesses today still send email using their ISP email address such as [email protected] rather than using an email address like [email protected] The frequency of this example highlights to me just how many businesses adopt a technical approach to their domain names and have not considered the importance of online branding.

You would not send a fax without your business letterhead, so why should your email be any different?

What domain name spaces are important?

There are many choices when it comes to domain name registration. However, the two domain name spaces which are clearly the most used and therefore the most valuable in Australia are .com.au and .com.  The vast majority of Australians type in either .com.au or .com when they are looking for a business online.  If you are an Australian business your customers will expect to find you in one of the .com or .com.au name spaces.

When you are thinking about domain names for your business ideally you would like for the name to be available in both the .com and .com.au namespace. Although this is much harder than you may think.  Today there are 50+ million .com names registered across the world and 600,000+ .com.au names registered so finding your preferred domain names which are still available can be a challenge.

The good news is registering a .com.au or .com domain name is relatively easy. Anyone can register a .com domain name as there are no rules which prevent someone from doing so. Australian .com.au domain names simply require you to have an ABN or registered business name and then you can effectively register as many .com.au names as you like.

If you have global plans for your business and want to reach customers outside of Australia you may need to implement an international domain name strategy. Just as Australians type in .com.au, Internet users from New Zealand type in their local namespace .co.nz whilst people from Germany type in their local domain name space .de

The rules attached to registering international domain names vary from country to country so if your want to target a specific international market we recommend that you investigate the requirements for each country.

The bottom line is that domain names are far more important than an afterthought when you are designing a new website design.  Domain names are an integral part of your company’s branding in 2007 so it is important for the future success of your business that you take control of your domain names strategy and show foresight when registering and managing your company’s domain name portfolio.

In part 2 of our article on the importance of domain names to your online presence we will address the many misconceptions about domain name registration, how to avoid expensive mistakes and a guide on how to develop a winning domain name strategy.