So you have an idea for a website and can’t wait to get cracking. You’re all set to begin, but first need to address the issue of branding. You’ve thought of the perfect name. It’s clever, easy to remember and fits your brand perfectly. Now, all that’s left to do is register the domain.
However, everything then goes to pieces…because it’s unavailable!
Many CEOs and website owners spend agonising hours trying to come up with a domain name that best describes what they do one that covers their brand and is also memorable. This is why it can be very frustrating if - after going through this process - you find out that your perfect domain name belongs to someone else.
More than 100 million dot com domains are currently registered. The total estimated number of domains registered globally is even greater. Therefore, the chances of finding the one you want are rather slim.
What are the options available, should you find yourself in a situation like this? It is possible to obtain the domain name of your choice, even if it has already been taken by someone else. If that doesn’t work out, there are several other alternatives open to you.
Try an alternative TLD
Dot Com is the most popular domain name extension (or TLD) in the world. This accounts for more than 75% of registered domains. This high level of popularity makes getting a dot com extension for your domain name very difficult. It is becoming increasingly common for people to attempt to register a domain name for their website, only to find that the dot com extension is already taken. However, if your domain name is tied to your brand or business and you’d rather not change it, then you can consider any of the numerous TLD extensions available on the market.
As of February 2017, there were more than 1000 domain name extensions available. Aside from the more popular TLDs such as dot com, dot org, dot net - and more recently, dot biz and dot info - there are hundreds of other extensions that fall under different categories of gTLDs.
Country Specific Domain Extension
You can consider using a domain extension that falls under the ccTLDs. This means Country Code Top Level Domain. ccTLDs are country specific which means that they have their extensions tied to a particular country. Dot org.uk, dot fr and dot us are examples of ccTLDs.
If your website is focused more on local traffic, then a ccTLD will serve you just fine. You can use the domain name you want and enjoy local traffic from search engines.
Industry Specific Domain Extension
If your website offers content that is industry specific, you may want to consider going for an industry specific TLD. Industry specific domain extensions are currently very popular, with new ones springing up every so often. For example, ‘dot bar’ applies to pubs, bars and other drinking establishments. If your website relates to a club, you can choose ‘dot club’. There’s also ‘dot restaurant’, ‘dot tv’, ‘dot fm’ and even domain extensions for professions such as ‘dot photography’ and ‘dot accountant’. The list is exhaustive. You’ll find a domain extension for almost every industry or profession, and if you website is ecommerce, then a ‘dot shop’ domain extension might do the trick.
Even though using a dot com domain showcases a business to internet power brokers, it doesn’t mean that a domain other than a dot com will make your website irrelevant or invisible. In fact, search engine giant Google has so many ranking factors in their search algorithm that it’s safe to say your domain name extension will have little or no effect on your website’s search engine rankings.
It’s important to point out that not using a dot com domain extension has certain short-term drawbacks. People are more familiar with dot coms and might unconsciously type in your website url in their address bar and use ‘dot com’ when doing so.
For example, you might have a website called www.finishedgoods.tech. But because of the popularity of dot coms, your visitors are more likely to enter www.finishedgoods.com in their web browser. Subsequently, in the event that such a website actually exists, you will have lost that particular visitor.
If your business is up and running and you simply have to use a dot com TLD, then you can try the following tricks.
Try a variation
It may not be ideal, but something is better than nothing. If you discover that the domain name you want has been taken, creating a variation of your original idea or business name can be an effective way to get the ideal domain when your preferred choice is taken. For instance, if your business name is ‘John David Works’ and you discover that all the obvious choices are no longer available, you can try a variation such as ‘JDWorks.com’ or ‘JohnDWorks.com’. Anyone can easily see that either option relates to your brand.
Try a catchphrase or keyword
If you can’t find a suitable variation that fits your business, try coining your domain name from a catchphrase such as ‘carexpertrepairs.com’. Even though this may not match your brand name, if it fits what your business offers, it will work just fine. You can also try to integrate a keyword or group of keywords into your domain name. For example, something like ‘brightonhomeremovals.com’ not only covers your services, but also specifies your business location.
Find out if it is for sale
Some people buy domains not because they actually want to use them, but so that they can sell them and make a profit. If this is the case, it’s possible you might be able to get the domain of your choice if you’re willing to pay for it. The first step is to find out who owns it. Visit a domain database site with a “domain name search here” tab. Enter the domain and conduct a search. The results will display details such as when the domain was bought, when it will expire and the contact information of the principal registrant.
You can then send an email to the domain owner to find out if they are willing to sell and for how much.
Setup domain monitoring
That your preferred domain is taken doesn’t mean it will be unavailable for ever. Domain names are bought for specific periods of time - anywhere between one and ten years. Use a domain monitoring tool such as DomainTools Monitor to keep an eye out for when the domain will expire. When it does expire, the domain name immediately becomes available for sale and you can quickly snap it up.
There is really no hard and fast rule when it comes to picking a domain name for your business. If the domain name you had in mind is not available and you’re willing to be flexible, then try out all the options discussed above. However, if you’re willing to be patient, so that you can avoid having a website address that is similar to someone else’s, then keep a look out for when your choice of domain will expire. Then make your move and pay for multiple years. This will save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Picking the right domain name can be challenging, but with patience and a bit of creativity, you’ll be able to get one that suits your business just fine.
About the Author
Hello, I am Che and I have been designing websites for over 12 years now for small businesses across the globe.
I have a real passion for helping small businesses achieve their online goals. I am a big believer in educating my clients so that they have the necessary skills to perform daily tasks on their web sites and online. All clients are provided with one on one training, and our training videos can be viewed on our website.
I started CheDesigns back in 2012 when I moved to Australia from the UK with my small but awesome family.
I believe that every small business, just like YOURS, should be able to have an online presence at a reasonable price, but with a website that will help generate leads and sales. I have spent enormous hours developing the perfect website platform that clients can easily use but that also helps gain them success online.
Even after CheDesigns builds your website we will still be here to answer any ongoing questions you might have.