Domain names can be something of a grey area for many business owners. Everyone needs one, but how much do they cost? Should you buy the .com, .biz or .net extension? And what if the domain you want is already registered?
All of these questions, and many more, are common among people looking to purchase a domain name. My Business asked serial entrepreneur Shaun McGowan to set the record straight:
Why is it important to have the best possible domain name?
When you have the best domain name, what the domain industry calls a 'category killer', it gives you:
• Instant brand recall
• Click authority
• More inquiries
• More sales
What is a 'category killer' domain name?
If you sell cupcakes, the category killer domain name is cupcakes.com.au. If you sell mobile phones, it would be mobilephones.com.au. It’s the most relevant, most descriptive domain for your business.
As consumers, we perceive these domain names to have the best businesses. These businesses must have been around for years: how else could they have this domain name?! They must be successful.
By having this 'trust' factor, your business will shave years off the process of trying to create a brand. You essentially buy one. In addition, this perceived trust will give you more inquiries and more sales.
For example, I rebranded my previous business from Beep to CarLoans.com.au – every metric we measured increased exponentially overnight. It was the best decision we made. More website visitors, more inquiries and ultimately more sales.
What can I do if my preferred domain name is already taken?
I often hear from small business owners that the domain name in their industry is taken – this could be the case, but it doesn't mean you can't get something almost as good.
The stronger your domain name, the better off you will be.
How much do domains typically cost?
Ultimately, a domain is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Finance and insurance names are generally the most expensive. However, as a general rule, the broader a domain is, the bigger the potential it has and this will be reflected in the price.
Here are some recent Australian domain name sales to illustrate the prices being paid:
• InvestmentProperty.com.au – $137,501
• BinHireMelbourne.com.au – $3,500
• Utes.com.au – $3,338
• Logic.com.au – $2,688
• HomeLoanCalculator.com.au – $36,301
• Vitamins.com.au – $20,000
• Physician.com.au – $1,500
• Hammocks.com.au – $1,647
• CreditReport.com.au – $27,500
• Toys.com.au – $90,585
• Bitcoin.com.au – $39,930
Should you buy .com or another extension (.net, .biz etc.) – or all of them?
If you are a local business with local ambitions, then no, you shouldn't buy the .com. If you sell a scalable global product like software, then yes, you may want to consider securing the .com. But note as a general rule a .com will cost you up to 20-25 times the price of the .au domain. It is quite common for .com domain names to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You would only ever consider any other extension if there were no other choices, which would almost never be the case.
Do domain names give you an advantage for SEO?
In my opinion, yes, but not how you probably expect.
One of Google’s 200+ ranking algorithms is best explained by leap-frogging. When a search engine returns the results, if the better domain is clicked on more frequently than a search result above, it has the potential to leapfrog it and take its higher position. This is what click authority is. The perceived trust of the best domain gives you the click authority.
Can you buy a domain name that is already registered?
Yes you can! There are over 3 million Australian domain names registered, so it’s likely that the domain name you are after is already registered.
There are multiple websites where you can find registered domain names: NetFleet.com.au has the largest selection of names. Alternatively, you can always simply type in your desired domain into your browser and see if a website comes up.
AusRegistry provides a tool so you can see who is the current registrant of any .au domain name. You can see their email and you can reach out to them to see if they would be willing to part with it.
In Australia, you can only register (licence) a domain name for two years, after which time you need to pay a renewal fee to continue being the registrant. If you fail to pay this renewal fee, your licence to this domain will expire. You can see an entire list of expiring domain names at Drop.com.au.
If you’re a start-up, I encourage you to look for the best domain name before finalising your business name. If you’re already operating, don’t forget, it’s never too late to rebrand!
Shaun McGowan is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of small business loan platform Lend.