Recent data from the Australian Communications and Media Authority suggests that 99 per cent of Australian adults were online in 2020, up from 90 per cent in the year prior.
The proliferation of digital technologies in 2020 came as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw people turn to these technologies as a way to stay connected during a time of lockdowns and social distancing.
And with the vast majority of the population now online, businesses upped the ante in terms of establishing a digital presence.
Not only did this mark the first time ever there had been this many .au websites, it also represented a 4.1 per cent year-on-year increase.
The .au domain was particularly popular among businesses, with 580,000 new com.au domain names being created in the last 12 months alone.
Around 85 per cent of these new com.au domain names were created by businesses that existed prior to the pandemic, with around one in three being more than 10 years old.
This suggests that existing businesses are looking for new ways to connect with customers in an increasingly digital society.
For businesses, a domain name is a vital asset as it is such a major part of online identity. Not only does it connect the business to customers and suppliers, but it also serves as a brand-building tool.
Thanks to strict registration and validation requirements, the .au domain is reliable and secure, with fewer instances of domain abuse (which includes malware, phishing and spam) than other commercial domain extensions.
An Australian domain name (ending in .au) therefore can be used to help create trust and increase recognition among local users.
auDA research shows businesses with the com.au domain name were almost twice as likely to have their website associated as trustworthy and secure than other common commercial domain names.
“An Australian domain name is your online calling card. There is no better way to signify to your online customers and suppliers that you are local and trusted,” auDA CEO, Rosemary Sinclair AM told B&T.
AUSSIES LOVE LOCAL
As well as fast-tracking digital transformation projects, for many Australians, the pandemic also reinforced a desire to shop local.
Research commissioned by Mastercard last year found that 73 per cent of Australians were looking to actively spend in their local community to help accelerate economic recovery.
And the .au domain can be used by businesses to leverage this desire to shop local.
According to auDA’s survey, 92 per cent of respondents associate the com.au domain with local businesses and 70 per cent said supporting Australian businesses is important when online shopping.
Additionally, having a local domain means a business will rank higher in internet search results, thus helping find new customers.
“Business owners setting up a website for the first time or refreshing their digital strategies should recognise the significant value a .au domain name can add to their online brand,” said Sinclair.
Looking forward, Australian businesses should continue to capitalise on the prestige of a com.au domain as part of their digital transformation efforts.
“Australia’s digital transformation is not slowing down. Australians increasingly rely on the internet to extend social and business connections,” continued Sinclair.
“We expect the online environment to shape the way we socialise, work and shop into the future.”
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