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What you need to know about the new .au domains

What you need to know about the new .au domains

In short, domains are not “changing” from .com.au to just .au. That's just hype. Here's what you need to know if your business is considering registering the .au version of a domain.

There’s been a lot of buzz around the new .au domain names which are released on March 24, 2022. 

In short, domains are not “changing” from .com.au to just .au. They are just another new type of domain suffix just like .id.au, .biz and .local and so on. Businesses that own the .com.au version of the domain (eg kook.com.au) have six months to claim the .au (kook.au). After that period the domain is released to the general public.

For an existing business like Kook, we will register the .au, simply for brand protection. But it 99.9% likely we will never actually use it for our website. 

One of the biggest factors in search engine rankings is domain age and, more to the point, the time that domain has existed as that type of business. So kook.com.au is a 20yo domain that has always been about websites. That is search engine gold right there.

The fact Australians have had 25 years of looking for .com.au in search results is also a habit that will take a long time to change, if it ever does. No-one knows whether a .au will have similar click-through rates even if it ever starts to rank. We find clickthrough rates about 25% higher for a .com.au than a .com, for example.

There is also a precedent to believe this will be the case. They changed this in New Zealand and the UK with a similarly hyped introduction, and they didn’t get traction.

If you need any more convincing, simply have a think about how often you ever see a .id.au or .biz or .local in the search results? Virtually never. The only time that does happen is if there aren’t enough relevant .com.au websites to fill the results, so they show you others.

In summary, until we see any evidence the .au gains traction in search engines, it would be SEO suicide to change your existing .com.au to a .au. 

However, the queries around brand protection and security may be enough to convince you to spend the relatively small amount on securing the domain.

Obviously you don’t want a business competitor using such a close derivative of your domain name. But additional to brand protection there are also security considerations. Eg. Preventing someone registering the .au and sending emails pretending to be from your business for purposes of phishing / social engineering. You can see how easy it would be for someone to think the .au would be legitimately from your business.

So the question is if you think the brand protection and security – and the low possibility of the .au gaining traction in search engines - is worth registering the domain for a few years to see how it pans out.

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