A question we often get, when clients are looking to set up a website, is which domain should they purchase? A .com.au or a .com?
The main difference between the two is .com.au identifies your website as an Australian business. This has a number of advantages if you are targeting Australian internet users. Search engines recognise the geographical location of internet searches and make the assumption that if the searcher is located in Australia, then Australian businesses are more relevant and will rank these pages higher than their global .com counterparts.
Another variation is when registering a .com.au you must have an ABN or ACN to verify that you are in fact an Australian business. Anyone can register a .com without any verification. This builds trust within the Australian market and the user knows they are visiting the site of a recognised local business.
But what if your market is global? Then it may make sense to go for a .com. Having said that it is very common practice for businesses to purchase both domains and have them both point to the same website. This is perfectly fine, but going gung-ho and buying, then redirecting, a variety of different sites to the same URL is often regarded as spamming by search engines, which can reflect negatively on your search engine rank.
The price between the two is marginal, with a .com.au slightly dearer. This is because you are getting the benefit of higher ranking in Australia’s search engine market.