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What to do When the Domain Name You Want is Gone

What to do When the Domain Name You Want is Gone

Finding good domain names can be a difficult thing to do, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow these simple steps, and find that perfect domain name.

Finding domain names is getting harder by the day and is amongst the most frustrating things a person can do. You come up with a brilliant name that is going to be fabulous for marketing and branding, you start to get attached to it, then you search and find that either an obscure company or nasty arbitrage site is already there squatting away your lovely idea.

It can be an infuriating experience and it leads me to my post today about what to do when the domain name you were looking for is already gone. There are a series of things I do when I run into this road block; I’d love to hear what others do (so I can copy your ideas in future):

1. Look for alternate extensions

People are (very slowly) coming around to see that .com isn’t the only domain out there. I’ve noticed a rise in the number of .net’s around and also the odd things like, and Unfortunately there are drawbacks – was very hard to remember at first, .info and .biz have some nasty spam connotations and some domain extensions are very obviously from some other country. Some domain search engines will give you a list of available extensions and variations in the domain name you chose.

Nonetheless it can still be a good strategy, particularly if you market the site continuously with the different extension. For example with we hardly ever write it without the .net, that way the two start to become inseparable. Some neat country domains that are worth looking at include: .cc, .st, .tv, .be You can find a complete list of extensions here, and be prepared for some oddities… did you know that .jobs, .travel, and .museum are all valid extensions?

2. Misspell it

This can be a clever or a dumb move. In some instances a name like Digg or Reddit can become a nice little brand – quirky and fun, but in other cases you will find yourself constantly having people misspell your misspelt name and then wonder why they didn’t find you. So again could be worth considering, if you do go down this route, it’s a good idea to emphasize the misspelling and make it a feature, take a look at the flickr logo next time you go there and notice what part of the name stands out the most. Some ways to misspell a domain include: Adding extra letters ( instead of mingle), dropping letters ( instead of advantageous), swapping letters that sound the same ( instead of tomcat)

3. Put it in a sentence

Some time ago I went to get an email address with and [email protected] was gone, after some consideration I registered [email protected], its memorable and quirky and the same philosophy can go into your domain name. I’ve seen everything from to I tend to feel these can get a bit excessively long, but if it’s clever enough it can still work. One thing to be wary of is that if your business name is not the same as your domain name be prepared for people to get confused. The design agency I used to work for was called ‘Good.’ or ‘Good Creative’ to use its full title, but we registered ‘’ thinking it was quirky and fun. What happened was that everyone kept referring to us as ‘the goodness’ and bear in mind this was an offline company with a big logo that says ‘Good’ on the web page and even then we had problems…

4. Shorten or length it

Abbreviating and elongating names can be a good way to get a domain name that works where abbreviating is taking a name like Apple Computers and making it or if of course they didn’t already own! Lengthening is just going the other way, so taking Apple and making it into

5. Consider buying it

You could of course always try to negotiate or purchase the domain name in question. Services like or not only list some really expensive domains ( for the low, low price of half a million!) they also provide brokerage services. I’ve only ever used Sedo myself and the rough process is that you pay them a small fee ($60-70) and they provide a valuation for the domain, get your maximum offer then contact the domain owner to start negotiations. Naturally you will probably only want to try buying a domain if you are 100% certain you are going to do something amazing with it.

6. Come up with something new

Of course sometimes none of these suggestions work… and that’s when you need to come up with something new! If you are going for a whole new name try things like making up whole new words (e.g. or combining seemingly unrelated words (e.g. flashden).

There are quite a few online generators that can help you generate and combine existing words to create potential domain names. Even if these tools doesn’t help you find that perfect domain name for your brand, it would help you in coming up with new ideas and perhaps even bringing that very sought after breakthrough. One of the most popular domain generators around at the moment is Bust a Name, the tool suggests different available domains using your keywords and suggests synonyms to increase your possibilities. 45n5 has a list of other tools that you can also try out.

7. Get someone else to come up with something new for you

If the above prove to be too difficult, ask for help from somebody else. After all, two heads are better than one. Ask them for recommendation and ideas. Tell them about your idea for the site, and ask them for the things that they think they will associate with your idea. These are great ways to come up with domain names, because you are not only getting feedback about your site from potential ‘users’ but also a point of view from someone that is perhaps a little less bias about the quality of your idea.

Finally… if all else fails, hire someone to come up with a domain name for you. Believe it or not, there are services out there that will do just that, Picky Domains is one of these services. Pay them $50 and they guarantee that they will find you “a domain name that is descriptive, concise and is easily remembered” or your money back. Sounds too good to be true? I can’t tell you because I have never tried the service, but it certainly sounds intriguing.

Let us know what you do when the domain you want is not available.

Liam Cavanagh

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