You’re finally ready to buy your domain name, and you discover that your .com is taken. It’s registered to someone else, and perhaps it’s not even expiring anytime soon. Now what?
Try to buy it
The easiest route to getting your desired .com is to attempt to obtain it from the owner. You’ll first want to find out who the owner is by running a WHOIS search. Once you have the name and contact information of the owner, try to reach out and contact them. If this doesn’t work, you can try to backorder it instead.
Contact the owner
Contacting the current owner of the domain name is the most obvious, yet often overlooked, strategy for ending up with the name you want. This should be your first step, as it’s the easiest way to snag a domain if the owner is thinking about letting it go anyway. If it’s owned by an individual person, the process of negotiating with them should be easy enough. Many people are willing to sell if the price is right.
If the name is being held by a company or domain parking service, this is both good and bad news. While you have a better chance of entering negotiations, the stakes are often much higher as they are usually in no rush to sell. If you can’t come to an agreement or the price is too high, it’s probably best to start looking at other options.
Backordering services watch a domain name until it’s released “back into the pool” after its current registration expires. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll end up with the domain; In fact, many expiring domains are renewed automatically or have other backorders competing.
The most successful active domain acquisition strategy is to use multiple backordering services. This strategy will increase your chances that one of them will catch it the moment it’s released. It’s still not a sure thing, but it will help your odds. You’ll want to do your research with this strategy, and be sure that you can afford to lose that cash if your bids are unsuccessful.
Be warned – this type of investment can be risky. Some backordering services, like Godaddy, are known to compete with their customers. They will put in their own backorder alongside yours, which decreases your odds of “winning” the name. If they win, they will park the domain and put it up for sale with a hefty pricetag. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s something to consider.
Consider an alternative name
If your attempts to acquire your dream domain have come up empty-handed, you may have to settle on something else. It may not be ideal, but you can probably still get close enough. There are a few tricks you can try to find the best possible name.
Abbreviate the name
The idea of abbreviating your brand might make you a little uncomfortable, which is understandable. But if the choice is between, say, billsbetterburgersoforlando.com and bbborlando.com, you might find the latter will be more memorable with your customer base. You might even decide to get creative with it and modify your existing brand name to match.
Add a short word
Simply adding a small word is a trend that’s been growing in popularity recently. Even well-funded startups are more often finding themselves with the same issue of domain name scarcity. As this naming trend gets more popular, many new businesses are even jumping on board willingly. Some have even begun to rebrand around this playful concept. Some popular examples include helloahead.com, gonoodle.com, and playvalorant.com. You can use a generator like InstantDomainSearch.com to quickly find your own names like these.
Add your location
Don’t give up on having a .com until you’ve tried adding a location to the name. You can add your city, state, county, or even country. BillsBakery.com might never be available to the public again, but BillsBakeryUSA.com could be. Sometimes this trick will come with the added bonus of sounding more authoritative and professional.
This can even help make your business more future-friendly. If you expand into other locations, you can assign each branch with own unique domain name. The location you added to the name will just become an identifier.
Should you use another domain name extension?
When does it make sense to have something BESIDES a .com? Some may argue that it never makes sense, and that you might as well get a d.b.a. if you can’t get a .com to represent your business. While this stance is valid, there are two points worth considering first.
If the existing .com isn’t a functional website (like a ‘coming soon’ page), you wouldn’t need to worry about customers confusing you for a competitor. Someone accidentally typing in the .com version of your site by mistake may realize their error and correct it to continue to your website. (Do keep in mind, however, that the dormant domain could become active in the future.)
Secondly, if the alternative domain extension fits your business category, it might actually be a good option. For example, if you’re a non-profit, a .org might be a good fit. If you’re an IT company, you can probably get away with .net.
Choosing the right domain name
It’s normal to be bummed when you find out the .com you wanted is taken. It might even put a kink in the excitement if you’re building a new business and you have your heart set on a specific domain name. We’ve all been there. Hopefully, you’ll get a lucky backorder, but don’t sit around waiting for lightning to strike. The important thing to remember is that necessity is the mother of creativity. By brainstorming alternatives to your desired .com, you may stumble upon something even better.