Selecting a good domain name

The advice below applies in all situations and for both third and fourth level domains.

Make your domain unique to avoid confusion

Check to see what domain names exist so you can pick a name that isn't being used. Also, try to avoid having a domain name too similar to one that is already being used by either a government or private sector organisation, so you don't confuse users or inadvertently lose website traffic to another site.

You can check which domain names have already been allocated (and who they are owned by) on the Domain Name Commissioner's website (www.dnc.org.nz).

Keep it simple

Users may try to guess your domain name or email address, so keep your domain name simple and try to avoid:

  • Long domains, as they can be hard to remember and easy to mistype. For example: departmentofforestryandfishing.govt.nz
  • Easily misspelled words, as they will cause problems for your customers trying to reach you via a search engine or guessing your name in the browser address bar. For example: enrolments.govt.nz (one or two Ls in enrolments?)
  • A mix of words and acronyms, as they look messy and are confusing. For example: huntingdepartmentnz.govt.nz
  • Hyphens or other symbols (e.g., $), as they add complexity and people may forget to use them. For example: fuel$aver.govt.nz

Set up a www redirect for your website

Users may try to access your site both with and without the www. prefix. Decide which version will be your primary domain and make sure that you have a redirect from one to the other. For example: www.newzealand.govt.nz should automatically redirect to newzealand.govt.nz

Avoid cluster registrations

Because .govt.nz is a moderated domain, you don't need to register lots of variations on your domain name (cluster registrations), such as misspellings or variations on names, to prevent other parties cybersquatting, link farming or phishing.

Cluster registrations aren't encouraged as they confuse customers, dilute your brand and contribute to the financial overhead of government.  Remember, if your domain name is unambiguous and simple, variations aren't needed.

For example: guyfawkessafety.govt.nz, guyfawkesafety.govt.nz or getthrough.govt.nz, getthru.govt.nz