There has been a lot of hype around the internet about the possible new expansion of Australian top-level Domains (TLD’s) to include “.au” instead of the current main TLD of .com.au. Today we look at this possible new TLD type and answer a few questions that I’m sure most business owners will be asking.

 

Are the .au domains coming?

Although it really could go either way I believe from the amount of discussions I have already seen that it’s very likely this change goes ahead for a couple of reasons which are as follows:

  1. It’s getting harder to find the .com.au’s that you want especially if you want to have keywords in the domain so adding a new TLD gives registrars the opportunity to sell a few hundred thousand extra domain names so they will be campaigning very hard to have the change approved in order to cash in.
  2. Australian’s Love shortening things, especially the names of things. The .com in the domain really doesn’t serve a purpose anymore so moving to a shorter version does make sense.

 

Should I buy a .au domain?

Most definitely, the last thing you want is your competitor buying up your domain name and competing against you for your own brand. Brand identity is extremely important for your sites SEO, so even if you don’t plan on using the domain you should purchase it even if it just sits on the shelf and you never use it. The cost of the new domains is likely to be around the $20 per year so for that price I don’t think you can afford not to pick up at least your brand name and possibly a few exact match keywords if they are available.

To help with this there has been talk of a 6 month window where the people that already own the domain get the first chance to buy the new TLD before it becomes publicly available but this does raise a few concerns. For example, who gets preference if the com.au and the .net.au are owned by different people? Most likely it will be a first in best dressed situation in which case it would be recommended to act quickly.

 

Should I move my whole site to .au?

It’s a little too early to say on this point as it really depends on two things;

  1. How Google chooses to value the new TLD. There have been hundreds of new TLD’s created over the years but very few have gotten much traction in the search results; but this time may be a little different as it seems this change is to replace the current TLD and not just give webmasters more options.
  2. How the public reacts to the new TLD. If the public embraces the change to .au then in time they will start to automatically type your site address without the .com. This will also happen when people write emails they will forget the .com even if it’s supposed to be there. Redirects would cover you so you don’t lose traffic or email but it’s always best to rely on as few redirects as possible so this would represent a time to shift as well.

If you do decide to move your site over it’s very important to put in place the right redirects so your site doesn’t disappear from search results for a few months. If you are thinking about this move I highly recommend getting a local SEO involved to oversee the change. Web developers are great at making the changes but often they don’t anticipate how the changes affect Google as it’s not their area of expertise.

 

Summary

In summary, for now we play the waiting game but my recommendation would be to lock in the .au domains as soon as they become available so you don’t miss out but hold off on building anything on them until we know a bit more about how the market receives them.