Web Development

Help! My dream domain name is taken!

Post by
Dr. Daniel Pressley
Help! My dream domain name is taken!

You felt the inspiration and you took the plunge. You're going to start your own business. You've done a marketing plan and you have come up with the perfect brand name to hook yourself in the memory of your dream customer.

There's just one problem.

Someone else has already bought the domain name.

Yep. We've all been there. Buying a unique .com domain in 2020 is a rare experience. If you manage it, give yourself a high five.

For everyone else, here's what to do when your dream domain name is taken by some teenager in Arkansas.

1: Make an offer

If you have some budget available, maybe you could just buy the domain off the current owner.

If their contact details are not listed on the website, then that's no bad thing. Using whois data, you can often find the owner's contact details and drop them a note. In my experience, it's usually a good sign that their details are not publicly listed on the website (more about this below). Be warned. Even an unused domain is likely to cost thousands of dollars, especially when you're actively getting in touch to enquire about it. So think carefully about your approach.

If the current owner's contact details are listed on the website, then this usually means one of two things.

The first scenario: they're looking to sell the domain. That's good, but they're probably expecting a good amount for it or they wouldn't be paying to maintain a website which is for sale.

The second scenario: they using the website for their business. In which case, you'd better be offering more than their livelihood is worth to them.

2: Use a different TLD

Your domain doesn't have to end with .com. There are so many options available these days that you're very likely to find at least one that works. Here in Wales, a .wales domain ending comes with its own local advantages. Be warned, though, that SEO is not among them. If you're planning on having SEO play a part in your marketing, then the only TLDs you should consider in the UK are .com, co.uk, .org (if you're not a business) or .co (meh, maybe at a push).

3: Try misspellings

Especially among tech brands and products aimed at children, misspellings are a very common way to standout, made a branding impression and, most importantly for us, get around the problem of the taken domain. Think of Flickr and Reddit, FrootLoops and Toys R Us. It doesn't work for every business, but it's a great solution for some.

4: Try synonyms, related words and reverse definitions

Sometimes it feels like you have the perfect name... until you realise that changing one word makes it even better. Before you give up hope, be sure to flick through a thesaurus for ten minutes. Two other place two look are relatedwords.com and reversedictionary.org - two genius websites which are a godsend when looking for a unique domain name.

5: Turn your name into an action or instruction

By adding a verb to the start of your preferred name, you can add energy to your domain and add some personality. Here at Growth Stream, we did this with our social media channels where we are known as @AskGrowthStream. Examples include trycaviar.com and getoberon.com. What about "be more...", "we are..." or "join..."?

6: Try a strong ending

By adding worlds like "official", "company" or "uk" to the end of your domain, you can add real authority to your name. In the B2B space, or in mature industries like motoring, this can be a really powerful addition.

7: Build the TLD into the name

This is called a 'domain hack' and it's quite clever. It only works if the last 2-3 letters of your brand name match a country code domain ending (e.g. de, ly, us), Examples include typosaur.us, bit.ly, visual.ly, easel.ly and about.me.

If you're despairing over your perfect brand name being taken and you want to chat about it over coffee in Cardiff, give us a shout.

Not our first rodeo

Growth Stream is a new brand, but we have been doing digital marketing since before that term existed. Read our backstory to find out what we've been doing over the last decade. Spoiler alert: it involves lots of small businesses growing massively.