A domain name is the name of your website. It forms the most significant part of the web address typed at the top of a browser to locate your site, and it is often used as part of your email address. The domain name that you choose for your website and email system can have a significant impact in the way potential customers and search engines find your business.
It is possible to have a web presence using a shared domain name, but domain names are so easily accessible and inexpensive that all businesses should obtain their own in order to be taken seriously.
A website address such as www.yoursmallbusiness.com.au, and an email address such as yourname@ yoursmallbusinessname.com.au informs customers and members that you're a serious business with your own online domain.
Benefits and Advantages of a Domain Name
The overall benefit of having a domain name is that it makes your small business directly accessible to potential customers. This is manifested by –
- Professional image and appearance.
- Your email address reflecting your web address enabling easy recognition.
- People easily finding your small business online.
- Getting your business seen by search engines.
- Enabling promotion of your business and increased traffic.
Four Steps to Getting a Domain Name
There are four steps in the process of getting a domain name: checking eligibility, checking availability, registration and payment.
- Eligibility. Registering with a .au domain name requires adherence to strict criteria to maintain the integrity of the .au netspace. There are guidelines to help you decide if you are entitled to use a particular choice of name.
- Availability. Each domain name is unique, so check to see if the one you want is available using a domain name search on one of the many Domain Registration websites, e.g. www.domainregistration.com.au, www.netregistry.com.au or www.melbourneit.com.au. There are many others; just enter "domain name registration" into your browser's search engine.
- Registration. If the domain name you want is available, the next step is to register it and proceed to purchase. The instructions on the site will be easy to follow. You will need to enter your ABN or ACN to verify the eligibility of your organisation. You may also be offered web-hosting options. You can ignore that question if you have already made arrangements for web-hosting, or are still in the process of deciding (see Web-hosting Options below).
- Payment. The cost of domain names has reduced dramatically, with some companies charging $5-$10 per year. The difference in price is based upon popularity of the name and the suffix attached. Aside from offering domain names, some services offer additional features, including free 'domain parking' and email forwarding.
After submitting the request, you'll receive a domain name order notification via email. Once approved, you will receive an official license stating you are now the registrant, and an ATO-compliant tax receipt.
Maintaining your Domain Name
It is important to plan ahead when setting up your own domain name. Paying for multiple years in advance is advised. Unless you have pre-paid for multiple years, there is a risk that your name will be purchased by others if you don't renew in time each year. You may also incur extra costs by renewing annually.