What to do when your preferred domain name is taken

What to do when your preferred domain name is taken

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.

Then, you have to decide which domain registrar to use. From GoDaddy to Google Domains, you read all the reviews and finally pick one.

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?


This might be a sign that it's not in use

  • Visit WHOIS to look up the webmaster’s contact details.

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).


You’ll see a search bar in the top-right corner. Enter the domain name and click “WHOIS”

  • If the owner lets you see their contact info, it will show up. If not, it means the owner doesn’t want you to contact them asking to buy the domain but you can still try looking for a contact page or snoop around for an email address that the owner will see.

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?

  • Add a verb to your domain name.
    For example, Lady Biba brand uses shopladybiba.com and Pocket uses getpocket.com
  • Add an adjective to your domain name.
    Think how Arese Ugwu uses smartmoneyarese
  • Add a word that flows naturally.
    For example, Instagram planner, Plann uses plannthat.com

Key Takeaway

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!

For example, Celebration Church uses ccing.org and Daystar Christian Center uses daystarng.org

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.

  • Shortening by Abbreviation
    You can abbreviate words that aren’t the brand name. For example, My company is The Tolu Michaels Company but our website uses thetmcompany.com. Kentucky Fried Chicken uses kfc.com, Pricewaterhouse Coopers uses pwc.com, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation uses nnpc.com.
  • Shortening by Removal
    My name is Tolulope Michaels but my website is tolumichaels.com, Total E & P uses total.com. You get the point

Key Takeaway

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

Other TLDs are becoming increasingly popular

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.

Key Takeaway

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

Shopify Business name generator

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.

Jump-start your inspiration with tools like Potmanteur, Shopify business name generator, Werd Merge, namelix, amongst others.

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?

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