For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of starting a new business is to register a domain name. They know that in order to have a website — and every business needs one — they’ll need a domain name to use as their web address (e.g. Jbhifi.com.au). But how much do new domain names cost?
For Australian businesses, the .com.au domain name extension is a must. This is called a top-level domain (TLD) and it's what many Aussies will assume is on the end of your web address. So why not make it easy for them?
You can expect to pay between $0.01 and $23.95 per year for a .com.au domain.
There are also other uniquely Australian options like:
- .au (the shortest Australian domain extension)
- .org.au (for charities)
- .net.au (originally promoted for IT-based businesses)
- .sydney (for businesses located in or around Sydney)
- .melbourne (for businesses and groups in Melbourne)
Those are the standard top-level domains, but there are also some that are a little more fun:
- .wtf (this extension says “You have to see this!”)
- .style (great for lifestyle blogs anywhere in Australia)
- .ninja (perfect for anyone who’s good at what they do)
- .biz (a fun way to say you sell something)
What you put before the dot is entirely up to you.
Editor's note: Click here to see if the domain you want is available now.
When to opt for .com
If you’re looking to target a U.S. or even a global audience, then you will want to register a .com domain.
At the time of this update, you could register .coms for between $0.50 and $39.96 per year, but check the link above for the latest domain name costs.
Then of course we have the creative option.
For example, a clever physiotherapist might register bestphys.io for their web address.
One live example that I know of is the food truck location business Wherethetruck.at.
New domain prices vary widely — for example, domain names ending in .auto are currently selling for $4,227.83 for the first year. So check here for domain availability and the latest domain name costs.
The launch of .au direct domains
The exciting news for both existing domain holders and those starting a new business is that the .au direct domain name is now available.
This brings Australia in line with countries such as the UK (.uk), the US (.us), and even our NZ friends across the Tasman Sea (.nz).
So for example, you will be able to register yourdomain.au in addition to yourdomain.com.au. Both indicate your connection with Australia — but as you can understand, the new direct domain is shorter and simpler to remember.
But it may leave you with a few questions.
For startup businesses
If you’ve chosen your business name and domain but are not sure whether to register .com.au or the new direct .au domain, consider registering both and forwarding one to the other (here’s how easy it is).
The first reason to buy both is that it’s insurance against your competition registering your domain name, even if it has an extension you do not use.
Second, it is quite plausible that with lingering confusion around .com.au and .au, there will be some people typing either into their browser. You want to make sure they find you regardless.
But the question remains, which should you use and promote?
I will always advocate for short and memorable, as long as you stick with your brand. So the new .au domain name has an inherent advantage.
Now, as a startup this is easier for you because your audience has not already committed another domain to memory. But .com.au is still going to be the default extension for Aussie consumers for some time to come, so expect that some will still type in yourdomain.com.au.
This is why you should register both and have one redirected to the other.
For existing domain holders
If you already have a domain name, you may be wondering if you must purchase the .au version of it.
No of course not, Especially if you have a .com.au. It continue to be the most common format and most likely the extension your audience will instinctively use for the coming years.
But beware. For the small cost of another domain, it is a great defensive play to make sure no one else registers it.
Should you switch from .com.au to .au?
I don’t believe so. If you have an established business and your audience recognises your domain name, then it’s likely not worth changing.
Plus for new customers, it will take some time to get used to .au and having it as the default extension.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have a redirect in place, so no matter which extension your audience uses, they’ll still find you.
What makes a good domain name?
First and foremost, a good domain name should be easy for people to remember. For an Australian business, it should end with the .au or .com.au top-level domain — these tell Aussies you’re right here at home.
For the rest of your domain (i.e. what goes on the other side of the dot), it may be easier to point out what you should avoid:
- Don’t make it too long. You don’t want people having to Google your business (“fish and chips on Main”) because they can’t remember your looong web address.
- Avoid hyphens and numbers. They are complicated to remember — no one ever puts them in the right place.
- Don’t stray too far from your brand. When your audience thinks about your business, you want them to instantly recall your web address. Don’t make them think too hard.
Type a name in the box below to see what’s available right now
What if my preferred domain name is already taken?
So you’ve realised someone else has already registered the name you want. You now need to be prepared to:
If the .au or .com.au domain you want is parked (i.e. not being used for a website), then you may have the option to put it on backorder.
Essentially, you pay the fee (typically the same cost as registering) and the domain name registrar will save it for you if and when it becomes available (in other words, when the owner doesn’t renew their registration).
Another option is to find out if the person who owns it is willing to sell it. You can do a WhoIs domain lookup search to find the email of the owner.
I wouldn’t recommend this for a newbie — if the owner is a professional domain investor, you could be eaten alive.
Use a domain broker instead. Yes it will cost you a little extra for the domain name registration, but the broker will give you a better chance of securing the domain and paying less in negotiations.
How much does a domain name cost exactly?
While you can expect to pay around $20 per year for an unreserved .com.au domain, the most expensive .com.au domain ever sold (Money.com.au) went for $400,000.
The simple answer is somewhere between $0.01 and $23.95 per year :)
Although owning a domain is often likened to owning property, the fact is you don’t have the same volume of comparable ‘domain properties’ to anchor the value. Instead, a domain name’s value is much more dependent on what someone is willing to pay for it.
If you’d like to know how much a prospective domain name is worth or if you want to check the estimated value of one you already own, check out GoDaddy’s domain valuation tool.
Beyond that, there are a few factors that will influence how much a domain name costs.
If the domain is memorable, users will be more likely to go directly to it by typing it in instead of via a search engine (where they may find themselves ending up somewhere else).
To demonstrate the value of a memorable domain, look at the biggest .com.au domain sales on record:
Certain domain names are more expensive simply because they’re considered more valuable.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Google and other search engines still index the web via URLs; they use links from other sites to URLs as an influential ranking factor.
So when you buy an existing domain that’s been used for a website, you will be buying a potential treasure-trove of inbound links coming to your domain. This should (in theory) give you a head start in establishing your business’ visibility in search results.
There are metrics that SEO professionals use to assess the value of a domain — the most popular metric is one called Domain Authority. If you want to check a potential website for this metric (and many more) to get an idea of its SEO value, check out the shortlist metrics tool.
It’s a great idea to stick close to your business name when choosing a domain name, not just because it makes it easier to recall but also to protect your brand. You don’t want others snapping up YourBusinessName.com.au and sharking your customers.
This is another factor influencing the cost of a domain name.
For example, if a big brand has long-term plans of moving into new markets, then they will register the specific TLDs for each market. If they are looking at expanding services, then they’ll also have a range of different domains specific to the service. So while these domains may not be being used for existing businesses, they will still be valuable.
Whether you’re starting a new business or rebranding, you will always have domain name and TLD options. If you want a cheap domain, then buying one that is already available is the way to go in terms of upfront costs.
However, if you can’t find a memorable domain name that contains your business name or brand, keep an open mind about buying an already registered domain. Understand what value it will provide in terms of your audience being able to recall it easily, if you will receive any SEO benefits or if you are ultimately protecting your brand.
The information contained in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an endorsement or advice from GoDaddy on any subject matter.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I permanently buy a domain name?
Unfortunately, you can’t buy a domain permanently. Domain registration is done on a yearly basis, with one year being the minimum. The maximum renewal period for Australian domains is five years (for many others it’s 10 years).
Whilst you can’t buy a domain permanently, you can register it for the maximum period and put it on auto-renew. Simply make sure your payment method stays up-to-date and the domain will remain in your name for as long as you like.
How much is a domain in Australia?
It depends on the extension you choose to buy.
For the traditional .com.au domains, expect to pay $10 - $20 for the first year, whilst .com domain registrations currently start from $0.50 (first year). Other niche TLDs range in price but are typically more expensive. For example, .melbourne will cost you approx. $79.97 and .store will cost you approx. $1.96 for the first year.
How much is it to register a direct .au domain name?
Right now GoDaddy is discounting the first year registration for the new .au domains at just $0.01 with each year following costing $23.95. Check current pricing here.
Was my .com.au or .net.au domain name impacted by the introduction of the direct .au domain?
No, it does not have any impact on your existing domains. Keep them renewed and you will be able to operate as per normal.
The direct .au domain is simply another option, albeit a shorter, simpler option. Simply forward your new .au to the domain name you use for your website, then start sharing it with customers.
How do I find out if my domain is valuable?
GoDaddy has a free domain value and appraisal tool. Simply enter your domain and we’ll calculate its estimated value based on similar domain sales and other factors, including the character length.
How do I find out who owns a domain?
Check out our WHOIS domain lookup tool. The results will show you which company is the domain registrar (GoDaddy for example), who is the registrant (owner), contact details and more. If the owner has domain privacy protection, you won’t be able to see their name or personal details. To approach them about buying/selling, you’ll have to go through the registrar.
Can I purchase any domain extension?
Some domains will have restrictions placed on them. The obvious ones are .gov.au and .edu.au — these are restricted to official government and educational institutions.
But aside from those, most are available to anyone. This includes some country-level TLDs such as the wheresthetruck.at example above, which is an Aussie business utilising the Austrian extension (.at).
Can anyone buy an Australian domain name?
Only companies and organisations that are registered to do business in Australia can register .au domains, whether that be the new direct version or the alternative .com.au, .org.au, .net.au.
Registrants will be required to provide a valid Australian government-provided ID number (ABN or ACN) or supporting documentation, and the domains must either be an exact match, abbreviation or acronym of the registrant's name or closely and substantially connected to the registrant.
UPDATE: This article on domain name cost was first published on 19 August 2020 and updated 14 June 2022 and again 23 February 2024