Thursday, 15 October 2020 14:48

What's in a (domain) name?

By
The Cheeky Chocolate Queen owner Rebecca Day The Cheeky Chocolate Queen owner Rebecca Day

A survey conducted for .au administrator auDA about Australians' attitudes towards various top-level and second-level domains yielded some interesting results.

Recognition that .com.au and .net.au are associated with Australian businesses was quite high at 92% and 87% respectively, but you could be excused for wondering why it isn't higher – perhaps respondents were thinking of the way local subsidiaries of foreign companies can register domains in those spaces.

The use of a .com,au domain was the most common way that the 1003 respondents decide whether a business is Australian or not (71%). This was followed by checking the company's contact details (46%).

Since the importance of supporting local businesses when shopping online has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic started – 89% say it is now at least moderately important, compared with 82% pre-coronavirus – it would seem sensible to revisit the decision to use a global domain such as .com rather than .com.au.

An example of the effect that can have is the experience of Adelaide based The Cheeky Chocolate Queen. Owner Rebecca Day said "In 2019 I changed my website domain to com.au after being advised that it quickly shows customers my business is Australian. I focused on building my online presence and now my business reaches chocolate-lovers around the country, with online purchases making up 40 percent of total sales."

"Being visible online has been especially important during the current pandemic and thankfully, my customers have continued to support me. I've even connected with new customers who are consciously seeking out Australian businesses – this was particularly obvious at Easter," she added.

There's also the issue of trustworthiness.

19% of respondents say websites with .com.au domains are strongly trusted, with another 46% of them saying they were trusted.

That compares favourably with .com, where the figures were 5% and 24%.

Similarly, .net.au scored 11% and 38%, whereas .net only earned 2% and 15%.

.com.au was described as 'secure' by 21% of respondents, compared with 12% for .com.

Interestingly, .net.au sites were less likely to be described as 'secure' (16%).

And one result that might come as a surprise to some (though not this writer) is that more than half (57%) of respondents are unlikely or extremely unlikely to buy from a business via social media pages if it does not have a website.

"With a com.au domain, Australians can be sure in a split-second that a business has a local presence. If you are putting your business online, don't risk being overlooked by consumers who are telling us they want to support Australian businesses," said auDA chief executive officer Rosemary Sinclair.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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