Why .au is a big deal for your brand

August 18, 2022

.com.au with the .com crossed out with a thick red cross.

Was your website created before 24 March 2022?

If the answer’s yes, there’s a new domain name option you need to know about and it could be a big deal for your business brand.

It’s called a direct domain and it ends in .au

What’s .au direct domain?

.au direct launched in March this year and according to auDA, the not-for-profit organisation that oversees domain name rules in Australia, they’re shorter and simpler.

auDA also says the introduction of .au in reflects the global shift towards direct domains with several countries now using them including the United Kingdom (.uk), the United States (.us) and New Zealand (.nz).

.au is a new addition to the categories of existing Australian open namespaces members of the public can register like:

  • .com.au
  • .net.au
  • .org.au
  • .asn.au
  • .id.au

Certain criteria, like business type and purpose, need to be met to use one of the open namespaces above.

What sets this new .au direct domain name option apart is that any individual or organisation, with a proven connection to Australia, can register for one.

Here’s the good news about .au

If your website was created before 24 March 2022 and ends with an .au open namespace, you must apply for priority status to register the exact match of your website’s name as a .au direct domain.

What this means is that your .au direct name is effectively on hold until you decide to register it.

But the clock is ticking.

You must apply before 20 September 2022.

What you can do to secure your .au domain

Enter your current domain name into the auDA’s priority status tool.

You’ll be able to check if your current domain name is reserved for priority allocation for .au direct.

You can also see if anyone else is eligible to use the same .au direct name you want to register.

If you’re the only one that holds the au. direct name, you’ll need to apply for priority status to register your exact match before 20 September 2022.

You can do this by contacting an auDA accredited registrar like Webcentral or GoDaddy.

In cases where another party is eligible to use the same .au direct name as you, the .au direct name becomes contested.

According to auDA, contested names are rare and the double up occurs when different individuals, or organisations, share the same business name but are registered in different open namespace categories.

In situations where multiple parties want to use the same .au direct name, it becomes a question of who takes greater priority.

You can learn more about auDA’s process for resolving contested names on its website.

Here’s the bad news about .au

Do you have to purchase an .au direct domain name? No.

Do we recommend purchasing one if you want to grow your brand presence online? Yes.

If you don’t secure your exact match .au direct name before 20 September 2022 deadline, the brand you’re working so hard to build could potentially hit a major roadblock.

The reason why is because from 20 September, it will become publicly available and you run the risk of someone else purchasing the .au direct domain and using the same business name as yours.

If this happened, you could end up with a branding problem on your hands.

Take this hypothetical example:

The Works is an Adelaide-based fireworks and special effects business and is the leading supplier in South Australia.

The company registered the domain name theworks.com.au in 2005.

The business has spent the past 17 years building its brand online and invests a substantial amount of its annual marketing budget in search engine optimisation and search engine marketing.

The company fails to secure theworks.au before 20 September 2022 and continues to operate with its existing domain theworks.com.au.

On 20 September 2022, the .au direct domain name becomes publicly available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Works Burger Company, based in Sydney, sees that theworks.au domain is available and purchases it.

We now have a situation where two websites, owned by two different business, share pretty much identical domain names but offer completely different products or services:

  • com.au is the domain for the fireworks and special effects business
  • au is the domain for the burger company

Can you see how this situation could create real confusion for online customers and potentially dilute a brand online?

What could end up happening in this hypothetical example is that consumers looking to buy fireworks might end up on the burger website.

Just as people looking for burgers online may land on the fireworks website.

Either way, they’re not finding the information they want.

This could impact a brand’s online presence and has the potential to increase the websites’ bounce rate.

Google doesn’t like websites with high bounce rates which means sites could experience a drop in their search engine ranking.

Google is yet to make an announcement relating to .au direct domains so we’re watching this space.

But if there’s one key take away its this: register your exact match .au domain name before someone else does.

Here’s some more good news about .au

You don’t have to work through this alone and we can help if you don’t have the time.

We’re right across the addition of .au direct to the Australian domain name mix and have just been through the process of securing ours.

Contact us if you’re serious about protecting your IP online and let’s keep building your brand.

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