On this page
- Choose a web address name that will attract the customers you want
- Check that you are legally entitled to the web address you choose
- Register your chosen web address
Before you register a web address, check the web address is not registered as a business name or company, or registered or pending trademark. Finally confirm if you are eligible to register a web address with .au at the end.
What's a domain name and web address?
A domain name is a unique name corresponding to one or more IP addresses (for example, johnnosmith.com.au). A web address reflects a domain name (for example, www.johhnosmith.com.au). It is sometimes referred to as a URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, although you'll rarely hear that term used.
A web address is how people find your website on the internet. People can type your web address straight into a browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari on their computer, or into the Internet application on their mobile phone or tablet. People using a search engine like Google or Bing can also find your website by typing in a question or keywords and searching. You may also use your web address as your email address. To set up an email address you'll also need to purchase an email service or hosting, which is different to registering a web address.
Choose the right web address
In general the best web addresses:
- reflect the name of your business
- are three syllables or less e.g. yahoo, webwombat
- are easy to remember, pronounce, spell and type, (for example, Google)
- are alliterative (for example, Redraven, Bluebug and Firefox)
- are also available for registration via social media channels.
Some people argue that a good web address is one that people are searching for online and therefore, come up in search engines such as Google (for example, Melbourne plumbers). To check high search terms use the Google Trends tools.
Others will argue that a good web address (and business) will be quite unique or distinct (for example, Google) in order to stand out in a crowded market and not be competing for web traffic online as a consequence of searches for popular terms.
Integrate with social media
If you're planning to use 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 plan to use. Then, when you start marketing your business online it's easier to send integrated messages to your customers, so make sure you note this down in your marketing plan.
How to find out if a web address is available to register
A quick way to find out if a web address is available for you to register is to use a WHOIS service such as the one provided for free by AusRegistry. If your preferred name is available and will not be in breach of any law, the next step is to register it for your business. If you engage a third party, such as a website developer, to register your domain name on your behalf, be sure that the domain name is registered in your name or business entity. This can avoid potential issues down the track.
Register the web address
If your preferred web address is available, you can register it at any one of over a dozen accredited registration organisations or their resellers. For a list of accredited domain name registrars visit the Australian Domain Name Administrator's (auDA) website. These are organisations authorised by auDA to provide services to people who want to register a new web address, renew their existing address, or make changes to their record.
You can register your web address well before you need a website
Consider registering your web address as soon as you know what it will be, even if you're not planning to build a website for a few months (or a few years!). This ensures you own the domain name and nobody else can register it, so it will be ready when you launch your business.
If you're already running a business and have staff working for you, you should already have a website policy in place, consider using our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy and I.T. procedures manual to document this.
Case study: Opening a cafe
'I expected that we'd have the normal working day and then we'd have the evening to catch up. I underestimated the miscellaneous additional work - and now it's hard to find the time.'Garry McGhie of Ethos Cafe