Is a localised .melbourne or .sydney URL worth the price?
Since localised .melbourne and .sydney URLs were announced as an option for Australian brands, the marketing community’s response has been mixed as to whether the cost is worth the investment. With some localised domains costing up to eight times the amount of .com.au URLs, we asked three industry experts to weigh in on the topic.
Luke Kelly, digital director, HBT Agency
Kelly says URL selection is more of a “localised exercise” for brands because less importance is being placed on premium domains.
“From a Google ranking perspective, extensions that don’t fit traditional .com or .com.au formats do not incur any penalty. This means marketers can embrace branding opportunities without being penalised, for say, having a .melbourne over a .com.au.”
He says regardless of which URL a brand invests in, content is at the core of all marketing activities on the web.
“Content plays a big part in Google rankings. As long as brands are producing relevant, quality, authoritative content, their efforts will put their best foot forward.”
Jason O’Donnell, SEO expert, Marin Software
O’Donnell agrees that content should be core to a brand’s web activities, and that it should be “readable, useful and unique”, and relate directly to the offer.
He says localised URLs may appeal to a certain type of consumer.
“Any brands using .sydney and .melbourne domains are verified as local businesses, so by nature they deliver some credibility and legitimacy to consumers who prefer to shop local.”
There are robust debates about the impact localised domains have on SEO results. In recent German study, it was found while localised URLs may help, it is not going to be a silver bullet. In fact, average SEO improvements were only an increase of 1.18 positions.
O’Donnell says this can make an incremental impact over time for brands already in a good position.
“If you’re ranked as number two, and you additionally have a .sydney or .melbourne URL in addition to .com.au, you may see minimal benefits that will attribute to going up to the number one ranking.”
George Hedon, founder, PauseFest
Melbourne’s digital and innovation festival, PauseFest was the first enterprise in Australia to use .melbourne in its marketing in 2014, a decision made because of the brand’s local focus.
“PauseFest stands for celebrating Australia’s creative culture on an international stage, so we snapped up the .melbourne and .sydney domains as soon as we could,” Hedon says.
“Australia has an incredible reputation overseas with leading tech companies and in Melbourne specifically, Zero Latency, (the world’s first wireless virtual reality system), 99designs, The Creature Technology, all based here. From a branding perspective, having both URLs communicates we support Australian creative and are proud of the creativity that comes out of the country.”