.au Domain Names: Do Bookkeeping Businesses Need To Register (Or Not)?

So, your domain name registrar contacted you about registering your .au domain. But now you’re wondering, what on earth does this all mean? What should I do, and do I even need this?

Never fear, Savvy is here with some information to help bookkeepers decide whether to take up the .au domain, or not. In this article you'll learn:

  • Background: What is a Top-Level Domain TLD?
  • Building Trust: Why is .com.au is the most suitable domain for Australian bookkeeping businesses? 
  • Benefits: How will Australian bookkeeping businesses benefit from owning a .au?
  • Practical: What will you actually do with your  .au address once you own it?
  • Recommendation: Does Amy Hooke think you should buy the .au or not?
If you're in a hurry, skip to My Recommendation at the end. Otherwise, read on to understand what it all means and whether it’s a necessary choice for you.

What is Top Level Domain (TLD)?

The .whatever at the end of your domain name is known as a Top-Level Domain or TLD. Your TLD is designed to tell people about the origin of your website.

There are many different TLDs, but these are the most common TLDs:

.com and .com.au are TLDs everyone is familiar with. .com stands for commercial and represents for-profit businesses. Anyone can register a .com, but proof of business ownership is required in Australia to register a .com.au

To learn more about the different TLDs, read on. Otherwise, skip down to "Why is .com.au the best for Australian businesses?"

  • .biz is short for business, and is an alternative for .com. In the past (not now, thankfully) many .biz site we’re associated with scams which is one reason for their lack of popularity compared to more reputable .com, .net or .org. If your goal is trust building with Australian based businesses, .biz is not ideal.
  • .org and org.au stand for organisation and represent not-for-profit such as charities or associations. 
  • .net and .net.au stands for network and was originally restricted to companies that hosted networks such as internet and hosting providers, but is now open to anyone who calls themself a network. 
  • .gov and .gov.au stand for government and represent a government organisation or department. Likewise, .edu and .edu.au stand for Education, and these TLDs cannot be registered by the general public. Only recognised government departments and educational institutions can register .gov and .edu TLDs.
  • .io stands for a computer science term known as input/output, these days it's popular for use by software companies.

There are many more TLDs such as .tech, .melbourne, .club, .jobs etc, but these generally aren’t good value or relevant to the bookkeeping industry.

Build Trust With Australian-Based Clients

Why is a domain ending in .com.au the most suitable domain for Australian bookkeeping businesses?

Most bookkeeping business owners in Australia register .com.au because it shows website visitors that you are a verified Australian business. As bookkeepers, if we're using our website to generate business, having a trustworthy site is of extremely high importance.

In order to get a .com.au, you have always need to have an ABN, business name or company with a name that is the same, or similar, to the domain name. 

Because of this restriction, it means that .com.au websites tend to have genuine content, and scams are weeded. This increases the level of trust that website visitors have in your business website. 

This is most important if your clients are based in Australia. If you're an Australian business with international customers, then .com is better, but as bookkeepers, this doesn't apply as mostly our clients are in Australia.

8 Benefits For Bookkeeping Businesses Who Own .au Domain Name

The big question is how do Australian bookkeeping businesses benefit from owning a .au?

The short answer is; they don't. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't register yours. 

You see, life ran fairly smoothly in the good old days of .com.au.

However, now that .au has been introduced, it has become a reality that we all must face this decision. 

It's not all bad, there are a few ‘benefits’ of having .au, so I’ve brainstormed a list below. And let's face it, this is not the most exciting topic in the world, so I've added in a little humour to make it a bit more fun:

  1. It's shorter to write, so it literally takes up less space on a business card, email signature or online bio. 

  2. It's (potentially) faster to say. Who can complain about ditching two unnecessary syllables when telling someone your email address? Of course, it won't be quite as impressive as the whopping 10 syllables we lost back when we stopped saying www dot every time you told someone your website address. 

  3. It looks pretty. By removing the .com part, it's getting to the point faster and giving your domain a much cleaner and prettier existence.

  4. It's easier to remember. If you remember not to accidentally say .com when telling others your email or website address. And if the person you're telling it to also remembers, after you've told them, that there's no .com, then it will be easier to remember. Otherwise, it won't be. 

  5. Domain name providers make more money. This one is a benefit to someone else, not you, as now every business owner will buy two domains instead of one. Thankfully for the first few years, most providers are offering the .au domains for about half price (around $9 per year), but read the small print, as these prices go to normal price (about $15 per year) after a certain amount of time.

  6. You may get a domain that was previously unavailable. If you missed out on getting your preferred domain, with the introduction of the .au, you may now get that domain. However, first preference has been given to those who already own the .com.au version, and everyone who does has until September this year to claim their domain. After that, it's a free-for-all.

  7. Protect your brand. If you are the owner of the .com.au, then the lucky person who gets first dibs on the .au is you - congrats! Once you've snapped it up, you can be sure that nobody else will copy your domain with the .au version. 

  8. Avoid potential cyber security risks. Due to the nature of our work, cyber security is a concern. If you don’t secure the .au version of your domain, someone could buy the domain, pretend to be you and scam your clients. 


What will you actually do with your new .au address once you own it?

Another thing to think about is the practical side of things. Here are the options listed in order of difficulty and effort:

  • Update your website to the new domain. This is a website migration, which requires knowledge and time. Not recommended if you can avoid it, as it can also have consequences for your SEO/Google rank.
  • Update your email address to the new domain. This is less effort than migrating your whole website, but make sure you do a proper migration, rather than just setting up a new email address on the new domain, as this will give you the option to transfer across your email history. Once you have done this you can let your clients know, but you can also set up a redirect on your old email domain so that if anyone emails the old address, you'll still get those emails.
  • Redirect your new domain to your existing website. Easy to do and allows you to use your short domain on marketing or when giving out to people, and anyone visiting that link will be redirected to your existing site. This will only work for your homepage, unless you created a redirect for every single page, but ain't nobody got time for that.
  • Buy it but don't do anything. You can buy the new domain so nobody else can get it, but then just let it sit there. Really, the only issue with this could be that someone might type in yourbusinessname.au and end up on a parked domain page. Not the end of the world given that bookkeepers generally don't get high web traffic, and if typing in a domain manually, most people will try .com.au first anyway.
  • Don't buy it. That's the easiest option to implement, but depending on your circumstances, it might not be the best for your business.


So, given all that, do you actually need the .au version? 

My answer is, as usual... it depends. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is there a risk that someone else will register your domain name?

  2. Would you suffer a financial loss if that website owner got the business that was meant to go to you?

  3. Would the potential losses be greater than the cost of registering the domain? 

If you answered yes to all three questions, then you should definitely register the new .au TLD. If you answered no to any of the questions, you probably don't need to. 

If you're still not sure, just go ahead and register for one year, it's only $9! 

Buy yourself some time to decide in 12 months' time. If you decide you don't want it, cancel it. If not, keep it.

Hope that helps but let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Amy x

3 branding & marketing