Choosing the right domain by Digital Nomads HQ

.com vs .com.au – What should you choose?

Selecting your domain name is one of the first and most crucial steps in building your online presence. The domain extension (the letters after the dot) plays a surprisingly large role in how customers perceive you and how search engines rank your website.

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Hayden Morris Head of Web at Digital Nomads HQ

Hayden Morris

Head of Web at Digital Nomads HQ

Choosing the Right Domain: .com vs. .com.au for Your Australian Business

When setting up your online presence, one of the first – and most important – choices is your domain name. The domain extension, the letters after the dot, can significantly influence how your website is perceived and ranked. For Australian businesses, the battle often comes down to two powerful options: .com and .com.au.

DNHQ Director Ben

".com.au is far more effective for local australian businesses."

Having worked with both .com vs .com.au domains, our agency sees far greater organic growth for local Australian businesses using the .com.au ccTDL vs companies trying to utilise the .com domain.

Benjamin Paine, Managing Director at Digital Nomads HQ

Understanding the Options

.com: The original top-level domain (TLD), “.com” stands for “commercial.” It’s a global extension, conveying a sense of international reach and presence. .com.au: This country code top-level domain (ccTLD) clearly identifies your business as Australian. It signals to users and search engines that you cater primarily to an Australian audience.

Key Factors to Consider

Target Audience

Where are your customers? If your business is primarily focused on the Australian market, a .com.au domain shows local relevance and can instill trust in potential customers. If your ambitions are international, a .com might be a better fit.

Due to the increased trust and familiarity associated with local domains, visitors from the same country as your ccTLD are more likely to convert into customers.

Source: DOMGATE

Search Engine Visibility

Search engines like Google prioritize local results for relevant searches. A .com.au can give you preferential treatment in Australian search results, potentially boosting traffic.

Branding and Memorability

Our domain name should be memorable and align with your brand. Sometimes, the desired name is more readily available with one extension than the other.

Cost and Regulations

While .com domains may sometimes be slightly cheaper, the difference is generally very small. However, .com.au has eligibility requirements, typically needing an Australian Business Number (ABN) or connection to an Australian registered trademark.

Further reading on SEO & Localised content

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So What's the Verdict?

There’s no single “best” choice, but here’s a general rule of thumb:

Choose .com.au if: Your business mainly targets Australians and you want to emphasize your local connection.

Choose .com if: You have a global customer base or aspire to build a brand with international recognition.

The Hybrid Approach

Many successful Australian businesses register BOTH their .com and .com.au domains. This strategy helps protect your brand identity from competitors and allows you to redirect traffic between the sites as needed.

Can you change from a .com to a .com.au later?

Yes, transitioning from a .com to a .com.au domain is possible, but it requires careful planning and execution to minimise disruption to your website’s traffic and search engine ranking (SEO). Some of the key parts to the process:

  • Securing both domains – Ensure you have purchased the new .com.au domain to transfer to.
  • 301 Redirects – Set up 301 redirects on your .com website to send users to the corresponding pages on your new .com.au site.
  • Update Citations and listings – Update your domain name in all your online listings, social media profiles, and marketing materials to reflect the new address.
  • Communicate the change – Let your website visitors know about the upcoming transition through website announcements or emails.

"It's not too late to transition to a .com.au domain - especially if you're in your business for the long haul.”

Mitch McAuliffe, Web Developer at Digital Nomads HQ

Mitch McAuliffe Website Developer at Digital Nomads HQ

The Future: .au domains

Australia recently introduced direct .au domains (e.g., yourbusiness.au). These offer a shorter, cleaner option, particularly if your ideal .com.au is taken. Keep an eye on this space as they become more popular.

In Conclusion

Your domain extension is a significant decision for your online presence. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of .com and .com.au to make the choice that best supports your business goals and aligns with your target audience.

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