Last August, my best friend launched her blog - the first blog she's launched in her adult life and it was an exciting project.
We had a brainstorming session about the name - majorly because we wanted a name that could accommodate different parts of her and that will allow her to change topics if she ever wants to.
It was an interesting process but we got it over with. She came up with a genius name that hardly anyone else should have thought of.
Now, time to buy the domain name.
Ouch! It wasn't available.
If you’ve been in business for even one month, you’ve faced the struggle of finding the perfect name.
serious struggle ohhh
You go through the stress of finding the perfect name, check with your friends, family and even the neighbors.
They tell you they like it.
Now you’re proud of yourself for coming up with the perfect name.
A domain name registrar is a an accredited company that allows you to officially register your desired website domain name so that it is unique to you, and no one else can own it, for as long as you pay for it.
But when you type in the domain name, your worst fear is confirmed.
The name was too perfect to be lying around.
Your preferred domain name is taken already.
What do you do now?
Should you forget about the name?
Should you alter this perfect name? Add ‘s’ to make your own plural version? Add a dash somewhere in between?
Or should you abandon your business idea altogether since you can’t even get past the naming stage?
I know this is tough. It feels like all the progress you made so far is now useless. I'll tell you in a bit, what we eventually did with my friend's blog, but more than that, I want to share options that will work for you if your preferred domain name is unavailable - none of those horrible and impractical options here, I promise.
Your domain name is important to your entire brand. If you mess this up, it will hurt your online presence. so here are 8 great options for you if the domain name you want isn’t available.
#1. Try your best to buy it
Thanks, Captain Obvious!
Haha, I know this is easier said than done, but I personally know many people who don’t even consider it. They type in the URL they want at a registrar’s site, see that it’s unavailable, and move on (aka, they sulked, moped and eventually gave up).
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The only problem is that this can be pretty expensive.
Now, how do you know if this is an option for you?
Type your “perfect name” into your browser: www.perfectname.com
If you notice that the owner of the domain is not using it, you may be able to buy the domain relatively cheap. Your best bet is to contact the site owner directly. How?
WHOIS is a trusted source and widely used service that provides basic information about a registered domain, who owns it, how to get in contact with them, the domain availability status and the company with which it is registered (registrar).
If you have a big budget, you can consider getting a domain name broker to help you at this point.
But the cost piles on quickly so maybe it’s time to look to other strategies.
#2. Add a word to your domain name
Relax, this is not as low as it sounds. It’s a popular method people use when their preferred domain name is not available. And it’s a good one for a few reasons:
- Your brand name stays in your URL.
- You don’t have to include random dashes and underscores.
- You don’t need to consider other TLDs
So, what are your options?
Adding a word is nicer than adding random characters, and definitely easier to remember.
#3. Add your location to the domain name
This strategy looks very last resort but it’s a great option if you just can’t find the domain name of your dreams. It usually looks nice + you get to keep your brand name in there. Win-Win!
You can argue that you have clients outside your location but don’t see this as a limitation. See it as an opportunity to showcase to where your brand originated from.
Besides, you can use the opportunity to buy different domain names for places where your business is highly present or where you have a concentrated focus eg. forbesafrica.com.
The question is what’s more important to you? People never finding you because you’re using some weird URL they can’t remember? Or a few people thinking you only serve clients in your location? You choose!
#4. Try shortening
There are many ways to shorten words in your domain name without hurting your searchability.
Don’t get all stuck up on a business name, feel free to remove or shorten words that are not your brand name. It’s not necessarily the best option but if you really want that perfectname.com, this is an option.
#5. Consider alternative TLDs
Can you live with something other than a dotcom?
Granted, dotcom is number one choice for a reason. It’s popular and has been the superstar of TLDs for a long time.
- People subconsciously trust dotcom websites. In fact, most of us just type (brandname) dotcom when attempting to reach a website.
- Also, people subconsciously attribute safety and security to dotcom. They are highly suspicious and wary of TLDs that sound spammy
Now, don’t worry yourself sick about this one because you can’t force everyone to trust TLDs that are not dotcom.
In reality, no TLD is better than the other and as far as we know, there is no SEO benefit to any particular TLD. That information came straight from Google’s John Mueller:
Even though Google treats all TLDs equally, there are some geo-specific TLDs (eg. .de is for Germany) that Google will default to a specific country and use that as an indicator that the website is more important in a specific geographic region.
It helps if the TLD is directly related to your business or niche. If your website is about a membership network for instance, you can use .net. If you’re all about business, .biz is not so bad either.
Before using an alternative TLD, consider how easy it’s going to be for your users to remember your URL and whether or not they’ll trust a domain that’s not a .com.
#6. Include related words in the domain name
Until 2016, Tesla Motor didn’t own Tesla.com because it was already taken. What did they do? They used TeslaMotor.com instead.
That URL served them well for years because “motor” was such a natural extension of their brand, afterall.
This method preserves trustworthiness in your URL.
But don’t throw in just any word to describe your brand. It has to be relevant and say something about your business.
Aero Contractors, a popular airline, uses “fly” along with their brand name in their URL: flyaero.com
That makes perfect sense when you think about it.
On the other hand, if they used something like “aeronow,” it wouldn’t have sounded as natural.
The trick is to consider related words that you can add to your brand name without sacrificing meaning, memorability, or natural flow.
Some words naturally lend themselves to certain niches. For example, if you’re a stylist, you may be able to use the word “style” or “fashion” in your URL. If you’re a talk show host/MC/comedian, you can put “show” behind your name:
#7. Use your Catchphrase Instead
People tend to remember catchphrases.
They’re short and memorable, which makes them perfect for URLs.
Think Martin Luther King Jr's “I have a Dream!”
Your catchphrase doesn't have to be that popular
If you have a short tagline or business slogan, consider using that for your URL. eg. iwillteachyoutoberich.com
That’s an interesting example, but Ramit Sethi sure got away with it.
Since you're getting domain name sorted, why not also get my FREE Personal Brand Website checklist to avoid building a website that won't make you any money.
#8. Take the opportunity to brainstorm a new name
I remember when my friend desperately wanted to buy “bakingforbeginners”, but it wasn’t available. So, she bought “beginningbakers” instead.
Shorter and sweeter!
But I know it’s so hard to think up a word that’s not taken.
So, why not create your own word instead?
Google pulled it off! So did Yahoo and Zazzle…
So, if your perfect domain name is taken, it could be an opportunity in disguise.
You can brainstorm again, and come up with a different, unique name.
It's a Wrap...
Getting the perfect .com website address is a dream come true
However, alternative domains are getting more and more popular.
People are becoming more used to different TLDs like .tv and .coffee, and it’s only a matter of time before alternative TLDs become more widespread.
In fact, that's what my best friend did eventually.
She bought amosaiclife.io since the dotcom wasn't available or in use
ccTLDs, like .io, are also becoming as widely accepted as general TLDs,
For now, if you can get a .com, go for it. But if you can’t, any of these strategies will work like a charm.
So, TELL ME in the comment box below..
Is your perfect domain name unavailable? If so, which of these 8 strategies will you use?