Direct AU Registrations, A New Australian Internet Tax

by Jim November 9, 2016

Please Sign This Petition to Stop .AU Direct Registrations
https://www.change.org/p/malcolm-turnbull-stop-au-it-s-a-cash-grab-that-will-hurt-business

After I finished recording yesterday, I logged onto Twitter and saw this question by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting.

Eric Enge gTLD Question
Eric Enge gTLD Question

Eric has been around forever and his SEO knowledge is immense. I suspect he already knew the answer to his question but I thought it was timely.

Google on gTLDs
Google on gTLDs

Then today Google reconfirmed that shorter domain names have no effect on ranking just in case someone tries to sell you on that one too.

Transcript

Welcome back Rankers! Hope you’re all having a great week. I fear spring is about to bypass us completely and head straight into summer. Weird weather. A big shout out to all our American viewers and congratulations on your election. I don’t know how it went yet, but by the time this goes to air the early vote counts will be rolling in.

I want to talk to you about another forthcoming election, but before we get to that, I want to tell you about a new Australian Internet tax. That’s not its official title, just what I’m calling it. It’s going to be levied by a registrar. What we have is an organisation in Australia called the auDA, which stands for the Australian Domain Administration. The concept is to start having direct .au registrations. That means you can go out and register yourname.au, which sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Until you think about it. Trust me it’s bad.

Market Demand

This came about because according to the auDA they surveyed 3,000 respondents and asked them the following question, “If you had the choice to register a domain name directly under .au – for example, yourname.au – how likely would you be to do so?”

Now for a start, that’s a terrible question to ask during an honest survey because it is such a leading question that people are bound to say they would. “If the option wasn’t there I wouldn’t because I couldn’t. But now you’re offering it to me, I think I would.” See? People are going to answer in the affirmative because if they’ve gone to the trouble of registering a .org, or .com, then it makes sense to grab the .au also.

The problem with it is that it’s a huge cost for business. Let’s say you own ten domain names. There are 3 million domain names in Australia. So that means 3 million more domain names that have to be registered as business will want to cover all their bases. You don’t want someone cyber-squatting on your domain name.

What Are The Benefits?

These are the benefits according to auDA.

  • Make available domain names which are shorter, more appealing and more memorable

We’ve only just got used to .au in this country, and that’s only taken us thirty years! Now they want to screw with it and change it?

  • Give Australians more choice in deciding what domain name to register

No, there is no more choice. You may think there is more choice, but there isn’t. There is a base-name brand that you are going to register, and then you’re going to choose what domain to register that on. In .au space, it’s probably going to be .com.au, which means you’re likely to get a .au as well. Now I know Tim Connell who is also running for the board of auDA has said that he’d prefer to see if you went with this, then you might as well scrap .com.au. That’s a bad idea, although I understand the logic behind it, as it would cause huge turmoil in the Australian domain space, especially from a search perspective. It would cost billions of dollars to business if we did that.

  • Respond to market demand

I haven’t heard any market demand and I’ve spoken to thousands of clients over the years in business and online and never have they requested a need for direct name registration. Maybe there’s a market demand from registrars as they’re the ones poised to make millions of dollars from it.

  • Be more attractive to natural individuals than the current option, .id.au

If you didn’t know it, you can go out and register yourname.id.au which is a stupid idea that auDA brought into play twelve or so years ago. Dumb idea. If people want to register a vanity domain name then they’ll just register a .com if they can. It’s the easiest and most memorable.

  • Strengthen the “.au brand” in a globally competitive market

I don’t understand how making direct names .au available is going to strengthen the .au brand in a globally competitive market. There’s no substantiation for that at all.

  • Add value to all three main categories of users – Registrars and resellers, registrants and ultimate users of the .au domain name system.

You and I are the registrants. Resellers are what they sound like. They receive wholesale prices from a registrar then pop a margin on top. No, it doesn’t add value to all three categories at all! It only adds value to two categories, and the one left out is of course the registrants who are being screwed.

Digital Democracy

Now in auDA there is membership. I became a member a little over a year ago, as I was concerned about some of the things I was hearing. This announcement was made back in April but I didn’t see it and I don’t recall receiving an email about it. It was brought to my attention as there has been a mass exodus of talent from auDA. We’ve lost the CEO, board members, and senior executive staff that equates to 67 years of experience according to a blog post I read on the subject. Now with the recent departure of more senior executives that tally of experience is closer to a hundred years.

If you want to stop this Internet tax there’s still time as auDA has said they will be doing further consultation. You can’t vote for me unless you’ve been a member for at least three months, but I would still encourage you to become a member, as you’ll have a greater say when auDA is seeking further consultation. Become a member and make your displeasure known about direct .au registrations as we don’t know what these will cost. We know auDA have lost some key staff, but we don’t know what will happen with the policy, and we don’t know whether it will be on a first-come-first-serve basis. You’d hope they would protect people’s trademarks on an existing name, but who wants or needs to go through all that in the first place?

There is no good reason for it. If it happened tomorrow, I would have to go and get a .au for around twenty of the domain names that I own. And the only reason for it would be to stop someone else getting them. Pointless waste of time and money. You may not have a trademark on an existing brand if you are a small business and someone may just come in and take it.

Go to auda.org.au and join up. Membership costs around $22 per year and they are split into two classes. There are ‘Demand’ members who are registrants, and then there are the ‘Supply’ members who are those that sell domain names. This is what this whole thing seems to be about; those supply members. There doesn’t appear to be a great deal of consideration for the demand members who are going to have to cop it sweet and have another domain name to manage. I’ll be fielding phone calls from people asking if they should register a particular domain name.

I’ve already had numerous conversations with people over the previous six months regarding new TLDs such as .melbourne. Now I see people out there saying that if you buy a .melbourne domain name you will rank higher. That was in an advert I saw.

Google’s official word on TLDs is as follows:

Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favour (sic) these TLDs? How important are they really in search?

Google’s response:

A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

So if you are seeing advertisements on the market saying that if you have a .melbourne or .sydney or .kevin, then you are not going to rank higher simply because of that generic Top Level Domain name. Google states it in black and white. We’re bound to hear similar arguments when it comes to .au but it will only encourage the cyber-squatters.

Anyway, if you want to protect your domain name and you don’t want to spend money on a new Australian Internet tax, then get across to auda.org.au and become a member. Thanks very much. We’ll see you next week. Bye.     

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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