A good domain name is hard to find. So, when you stumble on one that’s easy to type, says everything you want it to about your brand, and rolls right off the tongue, it will be devastating if a domain name search reveals that it’s already taken. But don’t give up. When you try to buy domain names, anything can happen. Sometimes, having to work your way around a registered domain name is just an exciting part of your brand’s journey.
So, when your perfect domain name is already taken, what do you do? Here are six strategies you can use:
6 strategies to buy domain that are taken
1. Buy it from the owner
Most people don’t even consider this option when they try to buy domain names and realize they’re taken. But you’d be surprised how many people are willing to sell you their domain names. In fact, some people do this for a living. They buy domain names they think will be profitable in the future, and they sell it for the right price. So, before you give up on your perfect domain name, see if you can buy it first.
How to buy domain names that are registered:
- Do a domain name search on WHOIS. This will tell you who owns the domain name. If the owner’s contact info is public, you’ll see it on the next page. If you see something along the lines of “WHOISGUARD PROTECTED” or “DOMAIN PRIVACY PROTECTED”, that means the owner has hidden their contact details using a domain privacy service. If this happens, contact the owner directly through the website.
- Ask to buy the domain name. Let the owner know you’re interested in buying their domain name. (Don’t sound overly eager, or you might end up paying a lot more than you bargained for.)
2. Extend the domain name
You can make the domain name yours by adding an extra word to the beginning or end of it. One popular method among people who often buy domain names is to add a verb to the beginning. “Get” and “buy” are two beloved options. So, if you were trying to buy the domain name spikymittens.com, but the domain name is taken, your domain name can be getspikymittens.com. If your website will be about an app where you can get spiky mittens, you can add the word “app” to the end, as in spikymittensapp.com.
You can also add a keyword that’s appropriate for your brand. If your brand is called Spiky Mittens, and you sell gloves, your domain name might be spikymittensgloves.com.
This could actually be an exciting opportunity to create a more specific, more easily recognizable domain name.
Don’t worry too much about the similarity between your domain name and the one that’s already registered. If you play your cards right and employ a great SEO strategy using an SEO tool, soon you’ll get so much web traffic that nobody will mistake your website for the other one, anyway.
3. Use a region-specific extension
Region-specific extensions like .uk for the United Kingdom and .fr for France are called ccTLDs (country code Top Level Domains). The “.com” extension is particularly trustworthy in the US, but if your website will cater to people in another region, a ccTLD might actually be more prestigious than the “.com” extension because the ccTLD gives the domain an air of authority that you just won’t get with a generic “.com”. So, if you’re not based in the US, using a ccTLD might be the perfect solution.
4. Use your slogan
If you have a short, catchy slogan, you can use it for your domain name. For example, if you have an exercise vlog, and you sign off each video with a short catchphrase, that catchphrase can be your domain name. Most people looking to buy domain names think they their domain name has to be the same as their brand name, but that’s not true. A domain name that’s based on your catchphrase does a great job of reinforcing your brand.
5. Consider a hyphen
We know. Hyphens look cheap. They have a way of making even a good domain name look a bit like the off-brand version of the domain name you really wanted. But, done right, a hyphen can be a great way to get around the unavailability of the domain name you had your heart set on. And, hey. If it’s good enough for coca-cola.com, it’s good enough for us.
6. Watch it like a hawk
If everything in this list did nothing except make you increasingly sure that only your original name will do, the next best option is to monitor the domain name. This way, if the owner forgets to renew registration, you can grab it right from under their feet!
There are lots of free domain name monitoring tools online. Find one you like and wait for the owner of the domain name to forget their renewal date.
In the meantime, use one of our tips to create a domain name that’s close to the one you originally wanted. That way, when you finally land the domain name of your dreams, you’ll be able to redirect your audience to your new domain name without taking too big a hit to your SEO.
If a domain name search shows that the domain name of your dreams has been taken, don’t despair! You have lots of options. You can buy it, extend it, replicate it, or even snatch it away from a neglectful owner. Good luck and happy domain name hunting!