Consumers are spending more time and money online than ever before. Businesses with an online presence have more opportunity to reach these customers — if they can find you, that is.

There are a slew of digital marketing tools available to small business owners, like sending compelling emails, running Google AdWords campaigns, or paying for social media posts. But there’s one avenue that, all too often, business owners fail to consider until it’s too late: their domain name.

For a long time, businesses had few options other than .com or .com.au when selecting a web address. Today, however, there are a wider variety of domain names to choose from, allowing you to target potential customers before they’ve even visited your website.

Showcase your personality

With domain extensions like .melbourne, .sydney, .courses, and .study available, your web address becomes more than just a URL. Instead, your web address becomes a marketing tool, indicating everything from where you’re located to what type of service you offer. And when you need to stand out from the crowd, a memorable domain name can set you apart while allowing your business to showcase its personality.

For Chalkup, an innovative classroom collaboration platform, that was one of the main drivers of choosing the www.lets.study web address. Using .study makes it clear that the startup takes learning seriously, while also showing off its fun, tech-savvy side.

“We jumped on the opportunity to buy www.lets.study because it was playful, innovative, and focused,” said Justin Chando, Chalkup’s CEO. “And that sounds a lot like Chalkup,” he said.”

Find otherwise unavailable names

With the breadth of new domain names, it’s often possible to snag web addresses that might otherwise be unavailable.

Imagine that you have a Melbourne-based restaurant called Dexter. Unfortunately, you’re out of luck for a .com or .com.au extension; both are already taken. You consider adding “restaurant” to the web address, but that’s long and unwieldly to type, particular for those on mobile.

But what if you chose a .melbourne domain name? You’d be able to keep your brand name intact, make it clear where you’re based, and capitalise on the city’s reputation as a leader in food and drink. That’s just what happened with the real www.dexter.melbourne.

“To have something new, to have something cool, and something that sums up our brand in two small words, it’s invaluable for our business,” said Sam Peasnell, owner of Dexter Meat and Buns.

Optimise for Google searches

Another reason why new domain names are so popular is that you can include keywords related to your business directly in your web address.

Keyword-rich domains and webpages that include popular search terms right in the URL may perform better in organic searches. So when people enter those search terms into Google, your business is likelier to come up higher in the results list because more of the words are a match.

A wider variety of available names that are memorable and keyword-rich — it’s no wonder that the newer wave of domain extensions are the future of digital marketing.