There used to be a time, not all that long ago, when everyone and their brother wanted to get their hands on a dot-com domain name, regardless as to whether or not they planned on ever buying a hosting account and launching their own site.
Dot-coms were hot property, much treasured digital possessions which, if they weren’t being actively used to direct visitors to a website, where housed with a hosting company or domain registrar in much the same way that big time investors housed their prized assets with a bank.
By and large, an investment is exactly what those domain names were, and mostly still are depending on which domain name owner you speak to.
If they’re not using those dot-coms for an existing website, they probably plan to in the future. They imagine building a new website, placing it on their hosting account, directing that domain to it, and ultimately reaping all the rewards promised to them by the widespread growth of the web.
If not, their keeping hold of them, just waiting for the day that somebody really wants to get their hands on that particular web address, and are prepared to stump up some big time cash to buy it.
And that’s the real kicker. If a domain name has been purchased but isn’t being used, it’s likely going to cost you hundreds, if not thousands, to prize it away from the individual or company who originally registered it.
Let’s be honest, as a small business, a sole trader, and especially as somebody just looking to launch a website as a hobby or sideline, you just don’t have that kind of cash to hand. So it looks like you’re going to have to give up the hope of using that particular domain name, though not necessarily on the idea of launching your website.
After all, just because that one, perfect dot-com isn’t available, that doesn’t mean you don’t have other options available for your site.
So, what can you do if your domain of choice has already been chosen by somebody else? Here’s just a few things you might want to consider.
Try a different Top Level Domain Name
In the web industry, a dot-com is what’s known as a Top Level Domain (TLD). It sits at the very top of the domain name hierarchy, but it doesn’t sit there alone.
Other TLDs include the likes of dot-org, dot-net, and dot-info, along with country specicifc domains such as .co.uk or .au.
So if, for example, myawesomewebsite.com is taken up, you might want to try the likes of myawesomewebsite.net or myawesomewebsite.co.uk.
Be wary though, that when many people register a new domain name, they often take as many different TLDs with them as they can, often so that customers don’t get confused by say having two different companies using a similar domain name.
Still, when you’re registering your new site with a top web hosting company
Use an ICANN-era generic top-level domain
Though we’ve listed many of the more common TLDs above, there’s actually a list of countless more domains called ICANN-era generic TLDs, these are often for more specialist websites, though you’ll likely find at least something that fits what you’re trying to do.
Launching a new mobile phone app? There’s a .app domain name for you. Running a cleaning company? There’s always the .cleaning domain to check out.
Wikipedia has a full list of generic TLDs that you might want to look at when it comes to exploring your options.
When all else fails, it’s time to get creative in how you brand your business on the web. Can you add a keyword that represents what you do to the name of your business, so that Smith & Co becomes smithcomputersales.com? Are you a new business that can afford to experiment with different company names to find one that’s available? Are you able to use those generic TLDs to come up with a web address that’s really unique, so that customers can find your new coffee shop by visiting ilove.coffee?
If your domain has been taken, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world, and there are plenty more options available when it comes to launching your new website.