Registering a domain name is a crucial step in the branding process, whether it's for your personal brand or small business – and it is important to know your options if you hit the ‘domain unavailable’ roadblock.
Names carry significant weight— it's what your customers and partners will remember you by, differentiates yourself from competitors, and influences the impression you leave on your audience. When you brainstorm the perfect name for your brand, it can be tempting to hit the ground running by designing a logo immediately or putting the name on your business card. However, you should not move forward until you successfully register your brand's domain name.
In this digital age, the odds are that you’ll find your first-choice domain unavailable. Thanks to domain availability checkers, brand name generators, third-party domain resellers, and companies that buy out any domain name that sounds similar to theirs, it's more complicated and unlikely than ever to get the domain you want, but it's not impossible. If you find that your desired name is taken, here are the next steps you can take:
Visit the Website
Check how the domain name is currently used. You may find that it is home to a well-established website or that the owner has not updated its content in years. You might also find that no content exists for the domain at all. If you are fortunate, you might find a "For Sale" landing page on which you can contact the owner for purchasing inquiries. If it's clear that whoever owns the domain is using it actively, you may be out of luck. However, if it seems like they are not making use of it, you might be able to take the next step: Lookup who owns the domain name.
Find Out Who Owns It
Thanks to requirements from ICANN, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, you can do a Whois Lookup of a domain name to find the owner's contact information, which you can use to inquire about purchasing the domain. Some registrants will choose to add Whois privacy to their domain, which replaces their personal contact record with that of the registrar's. For example, if you register a domain with Dynadot and enable our free Whois privacy to your account, anyone that looks up your domain name will see Dynadot's email, address, and phone number, instead of yours. In this case, you can still email the registrar, who will pass along your inquiry to the domain owner.
Get a Third Party Involved
Negotiating with a domain owner can seem daunting, which is why you may want to invest in a third-party agent such as a domain broker. Services like Domain Agents will help you throughout the entire negotiation process;, from making the offer to safely transferring a payment. Involving a third-party does come at a cost, but if you think a particular domain is worth the investment, it will definitely make the process much smoother.
If obtaining the domain from its owner proves to be unsuccessful and you still find your domain unavailable, not all hope is lost. You still have the following options:
Add the Domain to Your Watch List
With Dynadot, you can easily track the status of any domain name by adding it to your watch list. You'll receive a notification if a domain goes from registered to unregistered, enters our Marketplace or Expired Domain Auctions, or is available to backorder. Domain monitoring requires patience but pays off when the name you want finally becomes available.
Add Small Changes to Your Desired Name
Sometimes all it takes is an extra word to find an available domain name. For example, flowershop.com is taken, but if you add the word "custom" to the domain, customflowershop.com is available. Dynadot's domain suggestion tool does all the work for you to find a relevant prefix or suffix to add to your domain, and even shows you which options create an available name and which will make your domain unavailable. Even with the addition of a word, you can still maintain the essence of your brand name and convey the same message that you originally planned.
Try a Different TLD
Our first choice when registering any domain name is .COM— it's most common, easiest to remember, and intuitive for customers to add to the end of a brand name. However, choosing an alternative domain extension can sometimes strengthen a brand and convey a message right in the URL. A great example is twitch.tv. The choice of .TV over .COM helps Twitch identify itself with its streaming services and helps customers make the connection whenever they type in the URL. There are over 450 domain extensions to choose from, so you are bound to find an available name that perfectly matches your brand. It may also be an opportunity to use a domain hack, where the extension becomes incorporated into the domain name (such as ‘goingho.me’ for example).
Consider a ccTLD
Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) could be a valuable option if your domain is unavailable. ccTLDs allow you to hone in on a particular location and declare to your users that your brand or website is tied to that country or region. Many countries have popular domain extensions that residents in that country are very familiar with, such as .de for Germany or .ca for Canada. The chances of finding your available domain name is higher with ccTLDs, so it is worth considering if you are able to have a more geographical targeting approach.
Check Out Domain Aftermarkets
Instead of coming up with a name yourself, you can reverse the process. Find a name that is already registered and for sale and purchase it to create your brand. You can find hundreds of potential brandable domains in Dynadot's Aftermarket, or you can check out other domain aftermarkets such as Sedo or Afternic. Your perfect name is out there, and it might be for sale! Some of the domains for sale may even provide inspiration or ideas for a new name to research.
Searching for a domain can be a lengthy but worthwhile process to establish your online presence. Dynadot offers all the tools you need to brainstorm, register, and manage your domain all in one place. Use our domain search and find your domain name today!