Website Tip #9: Choose a domain that suits your target audience.
I noticed many of my clients in Adelaide ask me whether to use .com, .com.au or .au for their website. The answer, as always, it depends. From an SEO perspective you must take into consideration your target audience.
If the target audience of your website resides in Australia then use .com.au or the new .au for your website. Instead, if your target audience is international without localised versions then use .com or another Generic Top Level Domain.
The type of domain purchased gives a strong signal to Google about the location and target audience of a website. If I buy a domain name with .com.au Google recognises that the domain originates from Australia and therefore allows them to show the website to the correct target audience.
Remember, Google wants to serve people with the most relevant search results therefore to send a strong signal such as a geographical specific domain name helps Google understand the relevance of a website.
For example, say I want to find a local plumber in my city of Adelaide, South Australia. I crack open Google and search: “Local Plumber Adelaide Australia”. Do you think Google will show me links for local plumbers from the UK? From China? From India? Look at the links below and guess which domain you expect to show up if you typed “Local Plumber Adelaide Australia” into Google:
If you guessed number 3 then you win. Number 1 “sam-plumber.uk” uses a .uk domain name which signals to Google the website originates from The United Kingdom while number 2 “victory-plumbing.com” uses a .com domain name, which fails to signal a clear country of origin.
I would expect to see Number 3 in the search results compared to the others because it uses .com.au which signals to Google that the website originates from Australia. It lacks relevance if Google showed me search results of local plumbers from America and the United Kingdom, I am in Australia mate!
Is the audience of my website only Australian?
- Yes: Purchase .com.au or .au
- No: Purchase .com
If you own a website and the audience of your website resides exclusively in Australia then use either .com.au or .au domains. Otherwise you will force Google to look at other factors of your website to understand its geographic relevance. Another good rule of thumb that I say to my clients: do not make things hard for Google to understand.
You can read more about domains names in Google’s official SEO documentation.