Choosing the perfect domain name
The first step in establishing an online presence for your side hustle is purchasing a domain name. Your domain is your online address. It's your own digital real estate; your online business hub. It's as much a location for your business as a brick and mortar store, your ute or your home office.
Many businesses owners rush into purchasing a domain without doing the research necessary to get the most out of it. And while it's not impossible to change your domain name further down the track, this can be costly for your business. Getting your domain name right the first time can often be the difference between a good side hustle site and a great one.
Make it memorable
Long domain names are difficult to remember. Give your customers the best chance by keeping it sharp, snappy and relevant to your business offering. It's recommended that your domain name should be no more than 15 characters long. This not only keeps it memorable and better for word-of-mouth advertising, it also helps with your SEO efforts since search engine algorithms are geared to favour content that is user-friendly.
Lose the symbols (if possible)
Numbers and symbols pose a problem when it comes to domain names. Not only do they make your domain more complex and difficult to remember, there is actually some stigma involved. Symbols, especially hyphens, are highly synonymous with spam. To retain your business's online reputation, it's best to stick to letters only.
Think where else it will appear
When you're selecting a domain name, have a think about the other platforms on which you'll be promoting your side hustle. If you're planning on using social platforms, like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, check to see that the domain name you're interested in is also available as a ‘handle' or 'username'. Keeping your names consistent across multiple platforms isn't just a good reflection on your brand, it makes it easier for your visitors to find you.
Make it unique
Before you register your domain name, do a search for the URL you intend to use (without a .com or .com.au net ending). You'll be able to see sites with similar names, ones that you might get confused with or have to compete with for Google rankings. It's also important to note that just because the domain name you want is available to register online, it doesn't mean it isn't protected by a trademark. Ensure you don't get hit with a fine for trademark infringement by checking with IP Australia.
Using the right domain extension
Once you've started thinking about domain name options, there are also plenty of extensions for you to consider. Domain extensions are the letters and symbols after the first dot in your domain.
The most popular domain extensions in Australia are .com.au, .net.au, .com and .net - in fact over 95% of domains purchased this year fall under one of these four categories. Whilst these are the most popular, they're far from the only domains on offer. There's also local domain extensions like .melbourne or .sydney, general domain extensions including .biz or .info - even emoji domain extensions are a thing.
Before you make the final call on domain extensions, here are a few things to consider.
If you're starting small but have plans of upscaling to reach worldwide status, something more generic like a .com or .net domain extension might be best for your side hustle. These domains are called TLDs, or Top-Level Domains and are generally snapped up pretty quickly. A TLD will help your side hustle grow and expand onto the international market without the added headache of having to negotiate the purchase of a pre-registered domain down the track.
Local means local
If you are a local business with no plans of global domination, you'd be best to stick to a local domain. You can register a domain at a national level (.com.au) or, if your business operates in Melbourne or Sydney, you can register a city-based domain (.melbourne or .sydney). This not only gives you the novelty of a highly localised domain extension, it may also help you appear in more local online searches.
Extensions to avoid
If your preferred domain name has been taken for .com, .com.au, .melbourne or .sydney, it's advised that you look for another name – one that's unique. While .net and .org can have their uses, they're normally not trusted as much and are not the first thought for most internet users. Domain names ending with .info should be avoided altogether.
You might need an ABN
In Australia, .com.au and .net.au domain extensions are reserved for businesses with an existing ABN. If you want to register either of these extensions, you must be a sole trader, registered business or company.
Reasons to register multiple domains
Once you've started to narrow down your domain name and extension options, it's time to start thinking about the number of domains you're going to register. With so many potential domains and extensions on offer, holding them all sounds expensive. But when you do the maths it's a very small price to pay for brand protection, better SEO rankings and building trust with your customers.
Protect your reputation
Your brand name and your business reputation are one and the same. If your brand name is taken up by a website with no affiliation to your business, your reputation is on the line. It may not seem important right away when you're only just starting your side hustle journey, but as your reputation grows there will be more people looking to profit from your mistakes or tarnish your name. Don't give them the chance by registering your name across multiple domains.
Avoid losing out to competitors
There are only so many unique names to choose from, and sometimes businesses choose similar or the same brand name. Whether intentional or not; it's possible for these other businesses to steal your customers by using a similar domain. To prevent your customers from becoming confused, you can register multiple domain extensions so that they're always led straight to your door.
Build trust with customers
The more positive experiences a customer has with your brand, the more trust you'll be able to build with them. It only takes one poor experience to unravel this trust. If an unrelated business or a competitor has a similar domain to you, and customers don't notice the difference, they could associate any poor experiences with your brand too. Avoid this by ensuring you hold all the relevant domains for your side hustle.
Build trust with search engines
Search engines want to show users the most relevant results at all times. If you're a local business, like a dog groomer in Melbourne, then a .melbourne domain could help push your site to the top. If you're an eCommerce store with international shipping, you could hold all the country level domains relevant to your areas of service. This way your customers should see the site that is most relevant to them in search results.
Multiple domains, just one website
If you're worried about the cost of hosting and running multiple websites on your different domains; there's some good news. You only need one website which you can redirect all your existing domains to. This way you'll be able to ensure any person looking for your business finds what they need; whether they're searching .net, .com or even .com.au, just make sure you purchase Domain Manager to be able to redirect your domains!
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Offering all the services your side hustle needs to grow online, Webcentral has your digital needs covered. From great value domains to world-class web hosting and web design plus a full suite of online traffic building marketing services, we are with you, for you.
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