Choose and register a domain name
What is a domain name?
A domain name is a unique name that identifies your website’s location on the Internet. You can buy a domain name that reflects your business name to make it easy for people to find you.
For example, our domain name is business.vic.gov.au. Yours could be johnnosmith.com.au
What is a web address?
A web address is what people type into their browser to find your site – or a specific page on your site – on the Internet.
For your home page, your web address can be the same as your domain name. But if your website has multiple pages, each page will have a different web address. A web address is also sometimes referred to as a URL or uniform resource locator.
For example, www.johnnosmith.com.au or www.johnnosmith.com.au/contact-us
How people find your website online
People can find your website in the following ways:
- By entering your web address directly into a browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or into the Internet application on their mobile device.
- By entering a question or keywords into a search engine like Google or Bing.
- By clicking on your site from another site, from your Google Business profile on Google Maps or from your social network pages.
Choose the right domain name
Businesses usually choose a domain name that reflects their business name.
If this is not available or suitable, generally the best domain names are:
- short and punchy, like yahoo.com
- easy to remember, pronounce, spell and type
- alliterative, e.g. Beyondblue.org.au
- also available for registration via social media channels
Some people argue that a good domain name is one that people search for online and show up in search engines – for example, Melbourne plumbers.
Others argue that a good domain will be unique or distinct so it stands out in search engines, and you won’t have to compete for web traffic online due to searches for popular terms.
Whatever you choose, you can use Google Trends to check your ideas against popular search terms.
Integrate your domain name with social networks
If you’re considering using social media to market your business, it’s a good idea to check if the name you want is also available on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media channels you want to use.
As you begin to market your business online, using social media channels makes it easy to send integrated messages to your customers – be sure to note these in your marketing plan.
Find out if a domain is available
A quick way to find out if a domain name is available is to use a WHOIS service, like this one provided free of charge by Afilias:
If your preferred name is available and does not violate any laws such as Australia’s Reserved Listing Policy, the next step is to register it for your business.
If you hire a third party (such as a website developer) to register your domain name on your behalf, ensure that the domain name is registered in your name or that of your business entity. This can avoid potential problems on the track.
Register the domain name
If your preferred domain name is available, you can register it with one of the many accredited registrars or their resellers.
These registrars are organizations authorized by the .au Domain Administration (auDA) to provide services to individuals who wish to:
- register a new domain name
- renew current address
- make changes to their file
Register your domain before you need a website
Consider registering your domain as soon as you know what it will be, even if you don’t plan to build a website for a few months or years. This will ensure that you own the domain name and no one else can register it, so it will be ready when you start your business.
If you already run a business and have staff working for you, you should already have a website policy in place, consider documenting it in your IT policies and procedures manual.
If you don’t have one, our computer guide has a free template to get you started.
Using your domain name in your email address
You can use your domain name in your email address. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org
To set up an email address, you will need to purchase an email service or hosting, which is different from registering a domain name.
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