By George Pongas
16 January 2014
A New Year and another domain name related scam is doing the rounds in an attempt to deceive registrants into providing account details.
While this current scam does not specifically target .au domain name registrants, I encourage you to be vigilant and mindful of these tactics.
Under requirements spelled out by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), domain name Registrars for .com, .net, .org and other generic TLDs must verify registrant contact information on a regular basis.
The reason for this is to reduce false or missing contact information in the WHOIS database, which is a public record of domain name registration details.
Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed hackers launch phishing campaigns recently where they use sophisticated social engineering tactics in order to steal contact information and maliciously tamper with the domain name records in the guise of these official WHOIS verification notifications.
If you have registered .com domain names, please be aware of this scam and contact your Registrar if you are in doubt about what to do.
Because many .au domain name registrants will also have .com registrations, we encourage you to be vigilant. Phishing scams such as this are typically aimed at mass deception and the perpetrators cast a wide net in order to catch as many unsuspecting people as possible. This means Australian .com registrants may be targeted.
Importantly, WHOIS verification is not a requirement in .au domain name policy and if you ever receive an email requesting this you can automatically delete and disregard it.
Furthermore, services such as .auLOCKDOWN actually add another layer of protection to your .au domain name to ensure scams like this can never impact the integrity of your domain name assets.
Even if your contact details are stolen, a Registry lock service like .auLOCKDOWN would mean that only authorised individuals with pre-authenticated keys can make changes to your domain name records, reducing the risks scams like this pose.
Whether you have a .com or a .au, you should consider a Registry lock service like .auLOCKDOWN which can provide much needed reassurance. Contact your .au Registrar today and ask about adding .auLOCKDOWN to your domain name.
By George Pongas
By George Pongas
6 January 2014
Last year was a memorable one for .au domain name sales with a number of significant auctions and aftermarket deals making headlines.
For the second time in three years, a .au domain name was included in the top four sales for the world’s highest reported domain name sales for country code Top-Level Domains.
Coming in at fourth place in 2013 was cruises.com.au which was sold for $103,400. It was only edged out of third place by pizza.nl (Netherlands) by $100, followed by fotograf.de (Germany) at $117,810 in second place and jobs.ca (Canada) at $450,000 in first place.
This year’s fourth place follows last year’s highest recorded .au sale – hobart.com.au, which sold for $67,600 and ranked 15th in 2012’s sales chart.
The other .au domain name in this year’s top 30 was mysuper.com.au which came in at 29th spot with a sale value of $28,691.
This is a terrific result for .au and demonstrates the strong position it has attained on the global stage.
It’s especially significant considering the larger namespaces it’s competing with and the countries with bigger economies. Despite Australia’s relatively small population, the .au namespace is recognised as one of the world’s leading country codes and ranks in the top 10 country code Top-Level Domains globally.
Only recently we reported on the many benefits business owners can attain by registering a premium generic .com.au or .net.au domain names. Our carloans.com.au case study showed how a premium generic domain name helped their business decrease marketing and AdWord spend while increasing revenue and brand awareness.
Clearly, savvy business owners are aware of the .au aftermarket value and are using it to their advantage.
In September 2011, investmentproperty.com.au became the highest recorded domain name at auction when it was snapped up for $125,000 by New South Wales property developer Vision Homes. Only last year, the domain names – sydney.com.au, melbourne.com.au, brisbane.com.au, adelaide.com.au and auction.com.au – were touted for sale with a projected retail price somewhere in the order of $1 million as a total package.
I encourage business owners to contact their Registrar and consider a premium generic .au domain name for their business.
No doubt we’ll see even higher domain name sales in 2014 as the intrinsic value of .au domain names increases.
Although 2014 will see many new options become available in the market, my expectation is that the possible confusion will make premium generic domain names in established namespaces even more valuable.
In the face of confusion, people will default to something they trust and understand.
By George Pongas
Melbourne, Australia - 19 December 2013: Following an extensive review process with the .au Domain Administration (auDA), AusRegistry is pleased to announce that the auDA Registry Licence Agreement for the management of the .au second-level domain Registry has been extended for an additional four years, until 30 June 2018.
This is welcomed news and is a result that was popularly supported by industry stakeholders during the 2012 Industry Advisory Panel review.
The renewal of the licence will provide an increased level of business confidence, continuity of service and greater level of investment in the namespace for all .au stakeholders. Most importantly, this decision provides certainty for everyone involved in .au, paving the way for another strong four years of stability, security, and growth.
The licence renewal was the result of a long, diligent and transparent exercise that included two public consultation rounds over a 10-month period. This culminated in the Panel’s final report to the auDA Board in December 2012 which recommended that auDA renegotiate the registry licence with AusRegistry.
Following the Panel’s recommendation, the auDA Board voted in February 2013 to proceed with renegotiating the registry licence with AusRegistry. The Board then approved the outcomes of the negotiations between auDA and AusRegistry in October 2013.
Public Relations Manager
Ph: +61 3 9866 3710
By George Pongas
23 December 2013
One of the most pertinent issues business owners face when establishing an online presence is how to direct customer interest to their website and translate that into revenue.
Often, this includes sales and marketing tactics like direct mail, lead generation and online campaigns to drive awareness.
Some savvy business owners also invest in search engine optimisation and marketing techniques to increase the number of leads they receive from Google, Bing and Yahoo!.
An area businesses regularly overlook is their humble domain name.
A domain name is the business asset that underpins your entire online identity and it acts as a digital lighthouse to illuminate your web presence. A good domain name can be a cost-effective and highly successful method for increasing direct type-in browser traffic to ultimately improve your bottom line.
When it comes to effective domain names, there is no better option than premium generic domains.
What is a premium generic domain name?
A premium generic domain name is a short, memorable, descriptive and commercially-oriented domain related to the market vertical or industry sector of your business.
For instance, a florist would see great value in flowers.com.au, as would a camera shop with cameras.com.au.
Given their intuitive nature, domain names such as these are seen as the most authoritative and trusted online providers in their sectors. Consumers are drawn to these websites over others and the domain name actually helps to drive in traffic. It’s a bit like getting the prime eye-level product position on a supermarket shelf, rather than being located out of sight at the bottom.
These premium generic .com.au names work; the proof is in multiple success stories operating on the Internet at the moment.
For example, in September 2011, investmentproperty.com.au became the highest recorded domain name at auction when it was snapped up for $125,000 by New South Wales property developer Vision Homes. Similarly, hardware.com.au was purchased at auction by Woolworths in 2010 for $33,000. There are unofficial sales rumored at significantly higher values, however often domain name sales remain confidential and there are no laws that require the details published as there are for offline real estate sales.
The sale of these premium generic .com.au names demonstrates the strong demand shown by major brands that recognise the important role they play. They also demonstrate the enormous intrinsic value .com.au domain names hold despite their retail price, which can start from around $20.
Perhaps the example of a premium generic domain name comes from carloans.com.au.
CarLoans.com.au case study
The first incarnation of Shaun McGowan’s car loan business was initially called Beep.com.au and turned over a healthy $60 million.
As a savvy digital entrepreneur and domain investor, Mr McGowan knew the business had greater potential and turned his attention to purchasing a premium generic .com.au for the business.
Following the acquisition of CarLoans.com.au and a brand refresh in June 2013, the business saw an immediate increase in website traffic and customers, a decrease in marketing spend, 40% reduction in ad word spend, and overall growth of 60% to generate turnover in excess of $100 million.
I recently caught up with Mr McGowan to draw on some of his insights on the value of a premium generic .com.au domain name.
“We have not done anything different, we’ve only changed our domain name and that has seen this huge growth for our business.
Our business is not unique and we have many competitors. In this marketplace, you need a competitive advantage. While deep pockets to generate awareness is an advantage, so too is having the best domain name. We don’t have to tell people what we’re doing – people know to go to carloans.com.au to get a car loan. Our marketing budget has significantly reduced because we don’t have to educate consumers. The education is already done in those eight letters - that’s the power of a domain name.
With CarLoans.com.au, consumers think they’ve seen us before even if they haven’t interacted with the business previously. People just assume they know us because we’re seen as the biggest and best.
There is a natural assumption the biggest and oldest companies have the premium generic domain names. In terms of the domain name investment, the name paid itself back within four months.
Ultimately, having the biggest and best exact-match premium generic domain name in our industry is what’s going to count at the end of the day.
For example, do you buy shoes from shoes.com.au or ABCshoes.com.au? With shoes.com.au, you’ve got instant credibility because customers believe it must be the biggest and best retailer, whereas ABCshoes.com.au must build that trust with consumers to educate them on who they are and what they sell.
The exact-match domain name is exactly what it is; it’s powerful, it’s credible and consumers believe it. It gives you instant recognition.
Purchasing premium generics
I encourage business owners to consider registering a premium generic .com.au domain name.
In most cases, premium generic domain names will have already been registered. This does not mean they are unavailable for purchase though.
Various Registrars provide expired domain and aftermarket auction services to help businesses acquire highly sought-after domain names. Simply contact your preferred registrar and ask how they can help you register the perfect domain name for your business. For a list of the Australian Registrars visit the AusRegistry website (ausregistry.com.au/registrars).
By George Pongas
With 18% of the Australian population living with some form of a disability, eliminating barriers to website accessibility remains a challenge. In this blog, AusRegistry’s Maggie Whitnall explores this important topic with the support of Gunela Astbrink from the Internet Society of Australia.
By Maggie Whitnall
Tuesday 3 December 2013
Today marks an important day in the calendar for people living with a disability, their families and carers.
International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is celebrated each year on 3rd December as a United Nations sanctioned day aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with a disability, while also encouraging greater inclusion and accessibility.
In recognition of this day, I thought it was timely to pose the following question: What can Australia’s domain name and website hosting industries do to support equal web access for all?
Around the world, people with a disability face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society.
Unfortunately, these barriers are also prevalent within our own industry and the topic of website accessibility is an issue that affects the lives of many people living with a disability.
The scale and importance of this issue was best articulated to me by Gunela Astbrink, a vocal advocate for the rights of people with a disability and a Director of the Internet Society of Australia. Ms Astbrink was an ambassador for the recently held Australian Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) where she led a panel discussion on the accessibility of online services.
Access to information and communication technologies creates opportunities to everyone in society, but perhaps no-more so than for people with a disability. As the Australian Human Rights Commission notes, companies need to actively think about this issue because they have an obligation to remove discrimination and promote equal participation.
Despite advances in recent times – especially with the Australian Government mandating the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 for all government websites – many people with a disability remain unable to take full advantage of the Internet due to poor website accessibility.
Following auIGF, I sat down with Ms Astbrink to discuss website accessibility.
“I am delighted that AusRegistry is spreading awareness in the sector. Thank you for taking this initiative. Designing for accessibility means designing for the whole community. Websites can be exciting and accessible. In fact, innovative, intuitive and adaptive websites can go hand in hand with accessibility,” Ms Astbrink said.
“Embedding accessibility in your communications policy and creating awareness among your marketing, content development and technical teams means that accessibility isn’t compromised when a site is updated or redesigned.”
The business case
Making information technologies available to people with a disability is not only a matter of basic human rights, it also makes good business sense.
Incredibly, the UN estimate more than one billion people around the world live with some form of disability. Locally, Ms Astbrink told me the Australian Bureau of Statistics say over 18% of the population report they have a disability.
In terms of direct relevance to website accessibility, Ms Astbrink explains that this is difficult to estimate. Common conditions such as colour blindness affects 10% of the population but may not be included in disability statistics. A person with a leg amputation would not be affected by web accessibility but someone with limited hand movement would be. There are some people who do not reveal their disability and therefore are not counted in disability statistics.
Clearly, there is a large online consumer base being overlooked. Any company would be foolish to neglect this group – both from an equity and commercial perspective.
Furthermore, the UN cite a recent British study which showed UK companies were forfeiting £80 billion in lost revenue with around three-quarters of company websites not achieving basic levels of accessibility.
This is not to mention the intuitive benefits that best-practice web accessibility design brings. According to Ms Astbrink, research suggests that accessible websites achieve higher SEO rankings than those that do not conform to web accessibility standards. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and WebAIM have both explored this topic in depth.
What can we do?
Obviously, our industry – particularly Registrars and website development companies – are uniquely positioned to be able to encourage and practice accessible web design within the community.
If we as an industry are able to create greater awareness about why website accessibility options are important, we might be able to make a small but positive impact on this issue.
Greater awareness is the first step. For instance, Ms Astbrink alerted me to the fact that the AusRegistry website could improve accessibility in a number of areas. Admittedly, without Ms Astbrink bringing this to my attention, we would not have known about these issues.
Most of the changes are all relatively straightforward and we are now in the process of addressing them (A big thanks to Ms Astbrink for raising this with me!).
See, that’s the crux of this issue. With greater awareness and understanding of website accessibility, I suspect most companies would be more than receptive to this important issue.
In an attempt to create greater awareness and encourage change, I asked Ms Astbrink to provide us with her top 10 tips for website accessibility. We’ll be encouraging our .au Accredited Registrars to be mindful of these tips for their own websites and those of their clients. Perhaps others will follow suit.
Gunela Astbrink’s top 10 website accessibility tips
(These tips are a good starting point. For full information, please go to W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.
SEO = search engines mainly index on text
SEO = used by search engines
SEO = search engines mainly index on text
SEO = equates to the action of a search engine bot
By Maggie Whitnall
Client Services Manager - .au