What if my domain name is taken?

my domain name is takenWhat if your coveted .com domain name is taken? Should you settle for a .net, .org, or one of the new domain extensions like .best, .buzz, or .cool? What if your domain name is being held ransom by a domain-reseller who wants thousands of dollars for it or won’t even return your emails?

Is it worth changing your artist name or business name if you can’t find an available .com domain?

Well, the answer to all these questions is: it depends.

And before you make your decision, there are a number of things you’ll want to consider.

One of the first things to consider is whether the domain name you want is actually a good domain name. The last thing you want to do is to waste time and money on a domain name that doesn’t do a thing for you.


Qualities of a great domain name

Great domain names share certain common characteristics. You’ll want to make sure your new domain name qualifies for most if not all of the following:

  • It’s short
  • It’s easy to remember
  • It’s easy to spell
  • It’s easy to read (Make sure your domain name doesn’t spell something unexpected when the words are back to back)
  • It uses your artist/business name
  • It doesn’t use numbers or hyphens (the exception being that your artist/business name contains numbers or hyphens. For example: blink182.com, century21.com‎, etc.)

(Bonus: You get brownie points if your domain also communicates something about who you are or what your site is about–while remaining short and memorable of course)


Related Article: Domain Names, Choose Them Wisely

Now, I know it’s a crushing blow when you find out your desired domain name is taken, but don’t lose hope! The following should help you on the way to securing a domain name that brings you endless days of joy and happiness (and at the very least allows people to find you online).

Should I go with a .org, .net, or .cool if the .com is taken?

There are hundreds of domain extensions available these days (.fail, .fish, .farm), but the ‘.com’ still remains supreme. Now, if you band name is “Big Fish,” www.big.fish.com is a pretty good choice. It meets our criteria for a good domain name . . . But it’s still not as ideal as bigfish.com.

Here’s the reason: The ‘.com’ extension is usually the first thing people think of when they type a website name into a browser. You might tell somebody, “Check us out online at “big dot fish.” In all likelihood, the person you told that to will go to his computer and type in bigfish.com. That’s because we’ve all been trained that websites end in .com. We’re simply not used to using domain that end in .fish yet.

So, the .com is an advantage you don’t want to give up if you don’t have to. In fact, if somebody else owns the ‘.com’ version of your domain name, and you go with “.org” you’re going to lose traffic every time someone types in ‘.com’ instead of ‘.org.

So my suggestion is this: Before you settle on an unconventional domain extension like “.whatever,” try changing the words that come before the .com. Can you add a word before or after your domain name in order to get a available .com? Sometimes simply putting a “the” in front of your domain name is the difference between available and not.

Should I use a dash between words?

I know it’s tempting to insert a dash in your domain name if the “non-dash” domain is unavailable, but it’s better to avoid dashes. People don’t remember dashes. If you tell your fans go to ‘the-hot-tacos.com,” in all likelihood, they will probably just type in “thehottacos.com” without thinking twice.

Should I try to buy my domain name from the current owner?

It won’t hurt to try. But domain resellers will try to charge you an arm and a leg. A private party may be willing to sell a domain name at a reasonable price. Check for a contact page on the website in question, or check the domain’s publicly available whois information (if it’s not set to private) and give the owner a call or email.

Sometimes domain squatters will offer you a reasonable price, but more often than not, they charge hugely inflated prices. Before you lay down a few thousand for a domain name make sure it’s a worthwhile purchase. Is this an expense that fits in your budget? If not, choose a different domain name and be happy.

How should I alter my domain name to secure a coveted .com?

Well, don’t do anything drastic. Remember, that your name needs to be relevant and easy to remember. Adding in a random word or number is only going to hurt you. But, sometimes adding a short relevant word to the front or back of your domain could be just the trick.

For example: If my band was called the “Angry Toads,” and angrytoads.com was taken, I could look for:

theangrytoads.com (add ‘the’ before the name)
angrytoadsmusic.com (add ‘music’ at the end)
angrytoadsband.com (add ‘band’ at the end)
angrytoadscountry.com (add your music genre at the end)
nashvilleangrytoads.com (add your location)

Remember, keep it as brief and memorable as possible, or you’ll end up with something scary like this:

thecountrystarsangrytoadsbandofnashville.com (eeek!)

Should I buy up all the domain names similar to my own?

Sometimes companies will buy up dozens of domains in an effort to protect their brand from competitors and SEO tricks. A company named BrandX will often buy brandx.com, brandy.com, brandx.org, brandx.co, brandx.us, brandx.net, brandxsucks.com, and so on.

With the exception of the .com (always buy the .com), I wouldn’t worry too much about defensive domain name buying. Google has negated most of the nefarious search engine tactics that have been employed by hoarding domain names, so there’s not much to worry about anymore. Get the domain name that works perfect for you, and don’t worry about the rest. You could spend hundreds of dollars buying domains that are similar to yours, and it won’t do you one lick of good.

Related Article: SEO Band Names: Choose a band name that will get you found online

Do you have any tips for choosing the right domain name or finding one that’s not already taken? Tell us your tales in the comments below!