Why the .com in .com.au matters
For those of you who’ve been domaining a while you would no doubt be familiar with the old Overture tool, if not I will give you a quick run down.
Overture which is now owned by Yahoo, is a pay per click search engine, and they use to offer a free tool where you could see the monthly search volume for any keyword across their search network, they also had a separate version of the tool for Australia. Over a year ago they stopped supplying new monthly data and a few months ago they took the tool offline.
As an example something like realestate.com.au would return a result around 85,000, where as something like juice.com.au was getting about a 10, the minimum score was 5, if it had less than 5 Overture considered it the same as 0.
This information was particularly important for domainers as you could enter in domainname.com.au and if the results came back with a score you could be pretty sure the domain would have typein traffic, the theory was if someone is typing a domain name into yahoo there is also someone probably typing it into their browser.
The tool was good for finding, comparing, and valuing domains, but because the results were specific to Australia they revealed some other interesting data.
What I use to find most interesting was the number of searches for domainname.com instead of domainname.com.au, for the big ones like realestate.com you would still see 5-10% of the search volume for the .com.au equivalent.
This indicates that a lot of Australian internet users are so use to typing in .com they often forget to add .com.au, to a lesser degree this also works in reverse, popular .com sites with no local presence had reasonable .com.au scores in Overture.
This is one of the few downsides of the .au name space in my opinion, other countries such as China and France have .cn and .fr we’re stuck with having .com before the country code, much like .co.uk. auDA had an open discussion on introducing .au last year and it was rejected. In my opinion .au would be better than .com.au but its too late to change now.
The other issue causing confusion is Australian companies using .com domains in their Australian advertising rather than .com.au and in some cases not even bothering to register the .com.au equivalent.
Last year DNJournal.com reported that CarSales.com was sold for $400k, it was bought by CarSales.com.au, this was a great buy for them, overnight they would have seen an increase in traffic of 5-10% or more, and the majority of that traffic would be users who were looking for their site and just typing it incorrectly.
A domain like carsales.com would have received minimal natural typein traffic, if carsales.com.au didnt exist the domain probably would have only sold for $40k or less.
If we were to look at realestate.com as another example it would receive a lot of natural typein traffic from a global audience and therefore would not have as much benefit if it were acquired by realestate.com.au to simply redirect the traffic. It would be more advantageous to approach realestate.com and negotiate a deal to enable a geo ip redirect for all Australian traffic.
Another site that had a large .com Overture score was adultmatchmaker.com.au, in the last 1-2 years they have acquired adultmatchmaker.com, and seek.com.au has acquired seek.com, I’m sure there are other examples as well.
On the other hand another major Australian job site mycareer.com.au has not picked up mycareer.com, mycareer.com.au is owned by Fairfax, they own sites such as rsvp.com.au, cracker.com.au, fairfax.com.au, smh.com.au and many others, they dont own the .com equivalent of any, the only exception is afr.com
One that always surprised me was afl.com, its always had a parking page on it, and if the AFL ever needed a bit of a wake up call the NRL own nrl.com
Just to reinforce my opinion that jobsjobsjobs.com.au doesn’t understand domains, they don’t own jobsjobsjobs.com, which would have been a cheap pick up before they launched their site.
Registering the .com of your .com.au site is not crucial to your websites success and sometimes its completely impossible, but if you can get it cheap before you launch your site its much better than waiting till later when it could be much more expensive. Without the equivalent .com you will lose some traffic, and if you are doing offline marketing or word of mouth, then you will lose even more.