The potential introduction of .AU domain names has a lot of people up in arms and wondering what to do. Domain registry body auDA have been discussing this for years and it looks like the movement is gathering steam. But is it a good idea?
.AU Domain Names – A Primer
Australia have been happily using .com.au for our websites – auDA, also known as ‘.au Administration Ltd’ is a self-regulatory body for these domain registrations and was set up and endorsed by the Government in 2000. At the end of last year the Department of Communications and the Arts launched an official investigation into the process of purchasing and ongoing management of domain registrations in Australia.
Wikpedia report that as of September 2017 ‘there were around 3,115,365 active .au domains’. and according to the investigation, “total domains under management will peak and start to decline”. For some reason this means that .au domain names could be a good idea, notwithstanding the total nightmare it will be fore companies who already have a .com.au and don’t want anyone to try and piggyback off their success via registering the .au equivalent.
auDA said the idea for “.au” domains stemmed from the 2015 “Names Policy Panel” report, which saw multiple rounds of stakeholder feedback collected on issues, including on the idea of a direct .AU domain names registration.
“In addition to the public consultations by the panel, auDA’s board also commissioned independent market research, which showed that 60% of respondents were likely or highly likely to register “yourname.au” if it was available,” am auDA spokesperson said. But of course they would! You’d have to, to protect your digital identity. That doesn’t mean that adding superfluous layers of domain management is a good idea.
What about the SEO ramifications?
auDA say it is “not an SEO agency and cannot advise on potential SEO issues”, but it’s pretty easy to see that this change will have ramifications for those already on the web.
The simplest way to move from .com.au to .au will be via a 301 redirect (also known as a ‘permanent redirection – telling Google that yoursite.com.au is now found at yoursite.au). As Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter last year,
“301-redirecting for 404s makes sense if you have 1:1 replacement URLs, otherwise we’ll probably see it as soft-404s and treat like a 404.”
This circumstances (moving a full site across to a new domain) would definitely adhere to the ‘1:1 replacement URL’ stipulation – and it’s likely that the SEO ramifications will be fairly minimal. In terms of being able to register the .au domain in time, especially if you have a great .com.au that others covet, you could have a fight on your hands.
How will auDA manage this situation? Obviously, for something like ‘mvladigital.com.au’, we won’t have much trouble and wouldn’t have much trouble getting back control of mvladigital.au. But what if your URL is cheapfurniture.com.au or something like that? At what point is having an ACN registered enough? Do you need a trademark? What will the process be like where two companies have fairly valid claims for a URL? Why are auDA bothering to do this at all?
Why Do We Need .AU Domain Names?
Short answer – we don’t. Josh Rowe, who used to work with auDA, told SmartCompany he sees no need for it:
“I’m quite open minded about being able to be convinced there is a need, but the issue is, no case has been put forward,” says Rowe, who worked for auDA until 2015, the year they released a “Names Policy Panel” report, which was an amalgam of ‘stakeholder feedback’ collected on various domain registration issues, which included the concept of a direct “.au” registration replacing the current “.com.au” system.
“There’s been no clear case made for the expansion of the domain space, and to my understanding, it’s not like ‘.com.au’ names are running out.”
Current Second-level domains
If you’re interested in the current domain names you can register in Australia, please look below:
- com.au – Commercial entities
- .net.au – Commercial entities (historically only ISPs, but the use has been broadened)
- .org.au – Associations and non-profit organisations (historically only for organisations that did not fit in other categories)
- .edu.au – Educational institutions
- .gov.au – Governments and their departments
- .asn.au – Associations and non-profit organisations
- .id.au – Individuals (by real name or common alias)
- .csiro.au – CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)
The domain registry body is currently gathering feedback about how these direct registrations for .au domains would actually work. They haven’t released any timelines or specifics with regards to the introduction of this system and the blowback has been intense, with the issue being raised in Federal Parliament and on national TV. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here. Personally I think it’s very difficult to argue for the necessity of .au websites and it’ll cause nothing but headaches for everyone, but time will tell what auDA think…
What are your thoughts? How do you think this will affect your online marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments below.