Introduction to Domain Names
A domain name is the text that you type into the address bar in your browser, to access a website. It usually takes the form, “name dot something”, where ‘name’ could be anything you choose, and the ‘something’ is what you select from a list of predefined extensions.
A good web address makes it easy for people to remember and visit your website. When you’re planning to build a website, registering a good domain name is usually one of the first steps to complete. For example, if you’re running a business called, “Mike’s Widget Repair”, you might choose a domain name like mikeswidgetrepair.com.au, or mikes.com — provided these names aren’t already taken by someone else.
What is the difference between domain and hosting?
While a domain name is the digital equivalent of a physical address, hosting is the space available at that address. When you visit a website, all of the text, images and video that you can see on that site, plus plenty more that you can’t see, needs a place where it can be stored. This space is called “web hosting”, and it exists on a special type of computer called a “server”, which is always on and always connected to the internet.
Quite like how your office or retail outlet provides a space where you can house your physical assets and where people can interact with your business, web hosting provides the space for your digital assets. For more on this, check out our helpful page on web hosting.
Can I build a website without a domain name?
It is possible to build a website without a domain name, using only the IP address (a number that identifies a computer connected to the internet, sort of like a phone number) of the server where your site is hosted. For example, you could type in 184.108.40.206 into your browser, instead of “google.com”, and you will still see the same website. But it’s a lot easier to remember “google.com” than a series of digits. Also, most websites are hosted on a shared server (many sites share the same IP address), so the server won’t know which site to display unless you specify the domain name.
How do I choose a domain name?
We generally recommend choosing domains with .com or .com.au extensions, as surveys indicate that these are the domains that people trust the most in Australia. We recommend .com.au domains for Australian businesses as this is what the average person will assume to be part of the domain name. Securing the .au equivalent is also recommended to avoid confusing your visitors. If your business is intended for international visitors as well, we recommend choosing a domain name that is available with .com, .com.au and .au extensions. You can then choose which domain name shall be the primary web address, and set the others to auto-redirect to the primary address.
All .au domains need to represent an Australian individual or entity of a similar name. For businesses an ABN / ACN or Business Name Registration number must be provided (source). If your domain name is very important to you, we recommend trademarking your name as well.
When it comes to the name that precedes the extension – the part before the “.com”, or whatever extension you choose — the general recommendation is that it is preferable to keep it shorter than 30 characters, and avoid hyphens and underscores. We also recommend names to contain no more than 3 keywords as additional words could be considered spam by Google bots.
Does my domain name have to be the same as my business name?
In Australia, if you want to use a .au extension, then your domain name must be the same as your business name. If you want to use a domain name that is not exactly your business name, you may have to choose an extension that does end in .au. In general, keeping your domain name the same as, or closely similar to, your business name, is a good idea.
Can I own a domain name forever?
It is not possible to register a domain name for life, as ICANN, the authority that manages domain names, only allows domain names to be registered for a maximum of 10 years. Anybody who claims to offer a “lifetime” domain name is probably scamming people in some way. Once you register a domain name, you are the owner of that domain, but based on the duration of your contract, you will have to pay renewal fees to your provider periodically.