Someone has registered the domain I want. Help!

You've started a business, a club or a blog. You've got plenty of work ahead of you, and you're excited about it. Your idea is fantastic, you've got so much you want to share with the world, and most importantly, you've picked out a fantastic name. It's clever, descriptive and easy to remember. Now to register the domain name.

Or not.

Trying to get The Perfect Domain can be really frustrating. Or, at the very least, really expensive. Well over 100 million .COM domains are currently registered. Which means that "the good ones" are probably taken. Estimates are that the total number of registered domains topped a quarter of a billion last year. (Estimates are that nearly half consist of .COM and .NET.)

Plus, there doesn't even have to be an associated website for a domain name to be registered and unavailable to you. What's a person to do in the quest to register the perfect domain name? Well, there are a few options, which we'll break down for you in this series on what to do if the domain you want is already registered.

How can I tell if a domain name I want is registered already?

You can enter the domain you're interested in right here and see which variants are available. Available domains will show a green smiley face.

Note: Just because a website doesn't come up when you enter the domain name into a browser doesn't mean it hasn't already been registered. Some registrars use parking pages or display ads on unused-but-registered domains, but not all (iwantmyname doesn't).

If a domain name is not showing as available, and you can't find a website for it, some reasons might be that the owner:

  1. is working on a site that's not launched yet
  2. is only using the domain for email addresses (e.g. hello@theperfectdomain.com)
  3. is keeping it because the name is similar to a domain he/she is actively using and the domain is being redirected to their site
  4. has an idea for the future and registered the domain in advance
  5. is just really fond of the name
  6. wants to prevent other entities from using his/her name or brand.

Can I register a similar domain name?

Sure, if "theperfectdomain.com" is already registered, you could always just register the same domain name with a different extension, e.g. "theperfectdomain.info". The biggest potential problem there is people forgetting that your domain extension isn't .COM and going to the other site looking for you and getting confused.

People are slowly but surely embracing the new gTLDs. gTLDs are generic top-level domains, which is the part after the dot, e.g. ".com" - the gTLD is "COM". Hundreds of new gTLDs are being released, ranging from city names (e.g. .LONDON and .BERLIN) to hobbies and professions (e.g. .PHOTOGRAPHY and .ACCOUNTANTS) to surnames (e.g. .KIM or .WANG).

However, it will take time for people to get used to this new world where anything is .POSSIBLE. (Note: .POSSIBLE is not actually one of the new gTLDs, though it should be.) So, what is an enterprising individual or company to do? Well, there are a few options.

Companies are getting more creative with their naming, turning to domain naming options like "getourproduct.com" instead of the specific company name, or registering .CO or .IO domains in lieu of the elusive .COM.


Continue reading

This is part one of a six-part series to help you find your ideal domain name. Continue on to the next part or jump to another part in the series:

  1. Someone has registered the domain I want. Help!
  2. How do I pick a domain that people will remember?
  3. Why it's important to have you own domain and web presence
  4. What is domain squatting/cybersquatting?
  5. Someone has registered a domain with my trademark. What do I do?
  6. How do I find out if the domain I want becomes available?