Understanding Domain Names

What is a domain name?

The purpose of a domain name is similar to that of a street address or telephone number. The domain name directs customers to you on the Internet. The domain by itself is not your email or web address. The domain does form the base from which these addresses are derived.

For example:
Company Name:  Websites 4 Small Business
Domain Name: web4business.com.au
Web Address:  www.web4business.com.au
Email Address: info@web4business.com.au

Do I need to register a domain name to have a website?

The simple answer is NO. You do not need to have your own domain name. Your website can be created and hosted without it. Your website address will look something like this:

www.web4business.com.au/JBCleaning OR
www.ozemail.com.au/~JBCleaning

The only advantage of not registering a domain name is that you will save yourself A$70 per year (it costs approx A$140 for 2 years to register a ‘.com.au’ domain name). The disadvantages of NOT having your domain name include:

1. If you decide to change your Webhosting company or if that company goes out of business, you will lose your website address. Your website can be transferred to a new company, but your address will change. And that means re-printing stationery and re-doing all your advertising, notifying all your customers etc.

2. Website addresses that contain information other than your company name are long and hard to remember and do not appear as professional. Compare these two and see which one you are more likely to remember

www.ozemail.com.au/~JBCleaning OR
www.JBCleaning.com.au

So it is a good idea to register a domain name, even if it is just to protect yourself for the future. Say for example, your business name is JB Cleaning and you decide not to register your domain name for now.

Along comes Joe Bloggs who opens his own cleaning business and registers JBCleaning.com.au domain name. After a year you decide you want to have your own domain name, but since Joe Bloggs already owns it, you won’t be able to register it. Not to mention your customers who know your business as JB Cleaning may visit his website, thinking it’s your web address and instead hire Joe Bloggs Cleaning.

What does it all mean?

A domain name normally consists of 2 parts – your company name and the organisation type/region. For example with the domain web4business.com.au – web4business is the company name or a name derived from it. The .com.au indicates that Websites 4 Small Business is a commercial organisation in Australia.

.com.au – Commercial Organisations in Australia
.net.au – For network infrastructure and Internet Service Providers in Australia
.gov.au- Australian government and semi-government departments
.org.au – For clubs and various forms of affiliation groups in Australia
.edu.au – Australian educational institutions
.asn.au – Australian associations
.com – Commercial organisations in the United States
.net – For network infrastructure and Internet Service Providers in the United States
.gov – US government and semi-government departments
.edu – Educational institutions in the United States

Choosing a domain name

Domain name allocation is governed by a set of rules to ensure that no misuse of domain names occurs. Domain names must be unique within .com.au and should not contravene anyone else’s right to the use of the name. Domain names must be at least two characters long and contain only alphanumeric characters. Traditionally, Australian commercial domain names could not be common English dictionary words (e.g. lawyer.com.au or phone.com.au) or place names (e.g. Sydney.com.au). However, this system is under review and some such ‘generic’ names are becoming available.

The domain name that you request must closely resemble your existing registered company or business name (e.g. a company named Acme Oils Pty Ltd could register one of the following domain names – acme.com.au, acmeoils.com.au, ao.com.au, provided they are not already taken. Acme Oils Pty Ltd would not be able to register impact.com.au, oil.com.au or goodoil.com.au because they do not resemble the registered business name closely and they are common English dictionary words.

When you register your business domain name, the registering authority requires an ACN (for companies) or an ABN (for sole traders). Once the domain name is registered through a national body, webhost’s servers must then be set up to identify the domain name as a unique address, and to propagate it through the rest of the internet to ensure it can be accessed all over the world.

Domain Name Checklist

The following checklist will help ensure that your domain name is not rejected.

– You must supply the legal name of the organisation.
– You must supply your ABN, CAN or Business Number
– Domain name must be at least two characters long.
– Domain name must contain only alphanumeric characters (ie. A-Z, 0-9) and hyphens (-).
– Domain name must not start or finish with a hyphen.
– Domain name must be directly derived from the legal name of the commercial entity,

Once you have decided on the domain name that you would like, you need to check if it is available. To check, visit: MelbourneIT – www.melbourneit.com.au

Final Tips for Your Domain Name

– Under NO circumstances should you use your domain name in advertising material, office stationery until it is officially approved.

– Try to keep the number of letters in your domain name to a minimum.

– Domain names are not case sensitive. But you can use upper and lower case to improve the readability of your domain name. eg. Web4Business.com.au.

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Ivana Katz makes it easy for you to get your business online very quickly. If you’re looking for a professional and affordable website designer, visit www.web4business.com.au and download a free website plan.