So here you are, about to set foot on your new website journey. You have some really creative ideas about how your website will look and feel, planned how you’ll go about getting it developed, and what all things you want it to help you do. So, you come up with a catchy, creative name for your domain, and you pick one of the domain registrars to purchase your perfect domain that will add a complementary sparkle to your brand Name…
But to your horror, your creative idea isn’t that creative after all…it is taken!
What do you do now?
The perfect domain name that could potentially drive your business to new horizons, is taken!
This is certainly a daunting realization.
But not all hope is lost just yet…
There are some strategies that will surely help you either overcome this obstacle completely or help you figure a way around.
Strategies To Follow When Your Domain Name Is Taken
Here are the strategies to follow when your Domain Name is taken:
Try to Buy that domain
It is always a NO if you don’t ask.
Many-a-times, the domain you seek to own might be preowned but is not being used… People face a lot of resistance (whether internal or external) while beginning to work on their ideas. And a lot of times, they never overcome this resistance. As a result, there is a virtual ocean full of owned domains that are not in use.
You may visit the domain site to check whether it is in use. If it is not, well…
you’re in luck! Because you can get it at a relatively low cost. Contact the owner directly.
- Go to www.whois.com and search for the domain you want. Whois is a global registry of all the domains and their owners.
- Just enter the domain name or URL and click on the “Whois” button.
- You may access the contact of the current owner unless you see “protected” mentioned on the results page. This would mean that the said domain’s server has protected the owner’s contact from being viewed.
In which case, your best shot at contacting the owner is through the website itself. See if you can find their contact information on the site to connect. You will need a domain broker to broker the deal. Search for online brokerage services. Domains, much like real estate, are bought and sold, and invested in. So brush up on your negotiation skills.
Okay, but what if the domain is in use? What if it is a complete website? Well, we’d still suggest you try contacting them, although if they do agree, it is quite likely that it will cost you a LOT.
Or if you own a trademark that is being used in the domain name, you could go for legal action…which again will cost you.
ICAAN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is an American non-profit establishment that came up with the Uniform Domain-name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) that provides the mechanism for resolution of domain disputes. Check their website to learn more.
Tweak your domain name
Now if you can’t get your hands on the domain that you desire, you could simply tweak it a bit. We would advise you to go back to the drawing board, but in case your brand name strongly suits the domain that you want, you might be right about wanting it.
If the domain you seek has the potential to be a big brand-boosting asset, a good option, after attempting to purchase it, of course, would be to tweak the domain name in a way that retains its brand value but is not exactly the same domain.
Make sure to not make it too complicated to remember. Complex domains that contain numbers and hyphens will not be easy for your users to remember. Further, long wordplays that you think are creative, might not be so for people trying to visit your site.
So go easy on the complex vocabulary and the weird spellings.
KISS! – Keep It Simple, Stupid!
➢ Go for added verbs or adjectives to the name
You think your perfect domain name was perfect? Think again! You could add a little sparkle to your domain name by describing it. Not only does that solve your taken domain dilemma, but it also becomes more expressive.
Say your brand name is “chair”, but “chair.com” is taken…
You could go for “comfychair.com” or “chairclap.com”.
➢Add a relevant noun to the domain name as a tweak
It is always good if your domain name hints at or mentions the kind of services you offer. Sure, a lot of established brands like Nike or McDonald’s don’t need that. But if you do not have a brand image that is clearly perceived just from glimpses of red and yellow, or even partial images of athletes with the “right” shoes, it is better if your website URL gives off what you are offering.
For instance, Tesla operated through “teslamotor.com” before they were able to purchase “tesla.com” in 2016. Škoda operates “skoda-auto.com”, while “skoda.com” is someone’s personal family blog!
➢Add the target geography within the domain name
Many businesses get by with the target country within the domain name.
For e.g., how Nissan motors stuck with “nissanusa.com”, after losing a legal battle against Uzi Nissan’s Nissan Computer Corp., which owns “nissan.com” to this day.
You could get by adding any sort of target geography to the domain name, be it a country or a city.
Craigslist is a great example of efficient use of city names within the domain. Craigslist has a “.org” extension for its network of global websites that are all well organized with the city names in the different domains for each location.
For e.g., the craigslist website for Baltimore is “baltimore.craigslist.org”
Quite a lot of businesses these days are going for a practice that is called a “domain-hack” while purchasing a domain.
Now, what is that?
Say, your brand name is “domain name”, but “domainname.com” is taken. You have the freedom to go for something like “domain.name”, or if even that’s not in store, “domain.na.me” or “do.main.na.me”.
But this could be problematic. It is c.o.n.f.u.s.i.n.g as hell!
Your site visitors have to remember where the “.”s go. An the more the name is “hacked”, The more difficult it becomes for the audience to remember the domain name.
Try Different Extensions
You could go for a different extension.
Say you own a shoe brand called “sneaker”, but the common top-level domains, such as, “sneaker.com”, “sneaker.org”, “sneaker.net”, etc. are all unavailable… You could go for “sneaker.shoes”, or “sneaker. shop”.
The up and coming US company BirdBike, which is into rental electric scooters operates through “bird.co”, as “bird.com” is owned by a pet products brand, while interestingly, “bird.bike” is owned by a UK brand that is into mountain bikes and happens to share the “bird” name.
What was that about user confusion?
Nevertheless, it all works well for their respective target geographies…
You could think about ccTLDs.
Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are the top-level domain extensions that are reserved for a specific country or state. ccTLDs are always two-lettered; for instance, “.us” for USA, “.au” for Australia, “.uk” for the UK.
This is especially helpful if the party that owns and runs the domain that you want does not serve in your target geography. Check if the ccTLD of your target market(s) is/are available, and you want to make it work.
We advise you to tread carefully if you decide to go for alternative extensions to stick with the same domain name. Make sure to not infringe upon trademarks that could land you in legal trouble.
Abbreviate the domain name
You could go for a suitable abbreviation as your domain name if the whole domain name is Taken. And if you have a really long brand name, we suggest you go for abbreviations regardless of whether or not you get the complete domain with the “.com” extension. You should also go for the abbreviation if that’s how your business is already popular among the crowd.
Three brands that have gone for abbreviations in their domain names:
- The L.L. Bean’s (Leon Leonwood Bean) “llbean.com”
- HSBC’s (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) “hsbc.com”
- BMW’s (Bayerische Motoren Werke) “bmw.com”
Go back to the drawing board and work out a new Domain name
I know you’ve put in a lot of effort into this, have gotten infatuated with the idea of theperfectdomainname.com, and are willing to go any lengths to acquire it…
Ask yourself this, Is it REALLY worth it?
Whether it’s a legal conflict you’re imagining yourself in, one that depletes your business coffers; or paying huge, and sometimes unreasonable prices for purchasing the one you are hell-bent on buying; or perhaps even worse, some domain hacks or copycat names with different extensions that lead to customer distrust or confusion…
Wouldn’t it just be easier for you to chalk out a new Domain name?
Come up with a New, Short, Easy to Remember, Easy to Spell, Easy to Sell domain name that is available with the “.com” extension at an affordable price. If you were creative enough to get up till here, you can surely come up with another perfectdomainthatworks.com!
ALSO READ: How To Buy A Domain Name
In conclusion, a good domain is a doorway to your website success, so make sure that that doorway leads your visitors right into your website, and not off to someone else’s. Try to ensure that your brand name is never mistaken for or associated with someone else’s.
That being said, although the “.com” still continues to be a user favourite, alternative extensions too are slowly picking up pace. Do invest in TLDs, but do not overlook the alternatives. Try to keep away from complex domain names and hacks that are difficult to remember. And most importantly, DO NOT OVERTHINK IT!
For, the best branding moves of the business world were always the simplest ones!