For companies with incredibly unique names, it's often simple to register a desirable domain name. However, with more than 850 million active websites on the internet, some brands find it challenging to secure the domain they want. Don't fret, though; there are plenty of ways to work around this and find a domain and extension that works for your business.

The Importance of a Great Domain Name

Trying to identify the value of a domain name is complicated and challenging. It's different for every business, industry, and customer. As an independent variable, it really doesn't have much value. But, when combined with things like web design, marketing campaigns, advertising, SEO, and content marketing, it can be the perfect tool for attracting and converting customers. Here are three ways a great domain name adds value to a brand:

  • Marketing. First and foremost, a great domain name works in conjunction with a company's brand identity. It should go hand-in-hand with the long-term marketing strategy of the business. For example, if your brand is aiming for a simple image with minimalistic web design and very precise content, you would want a domain name that reflects that image. A one or two word domain name with brief and concise syllables would be preferable over a string of descriptive words and characters. It's just one more way you can reinforce what your business stands for. 
  • SEO. There was a time where businesses pursued what are known as exact match domains (EMDs). These are domains which exactly match a specific keyword phrase that customers frequently use. They once offered a two-fold advantage. The presence of the actual keyword in the domain was a ranking factor, while it simultaneously encouraged webmasters to incorporate the keyword phrase into the anchor text when linking back to that site. However, multiple studies now suggest those advantages are no longer as valuable as they once were. With that being said, selecting a good domain name does indirectly impact SEO by increasing relevant traffic, and thereby enhancing domain authority.  
  • Search-ability. At a very basic level, your domain name impacts who finds you. It should be directly tied to your brand name or the products you sell. This allows people to stumble upon your site even when they aren't looking for it. On the other hand, if it's too complicated or unique, you'll rarely attract new users unless they find your site via referral links or search results.  At a very basic level, your domain name impacts who finds you. It should be directly tied to your brand name or the products you sell. This allows people to stumble upon your site even when they aren't looking for it. On the other hand, if it's too complicated or unique, you'll rarely attract new users unless they find your site via referral links or search results. 
Solutions for Unavailable Domain Names

The problem most brands encounter when unable to secure the domain name they want is that they're unwilling to broaden their horizons or try something new. If you can get past your desire to have the domain name "Example.com," you'll be able to find something. Here are a few solutions for common domain problems:

1. Try a New GTLD

Thankfully, there are more than one generic top-level domains (GTLDs). While ".com" is by far the most common and well-recognized, it's not your only option. By looking past this and opening your options up to other GTLDs, your options get much better.

Some of the most common GTLDs include .info, .net, .org, .co, and .us. However, in the past few months, a slew of other ones have been released. Some of these include things like .club, .design, .website, .green, .social, .agency, .app, and more. This gives business owners virtually endless options. If your brand name was Bob's Bakery and you couldn't secure BobsBakery.com, you could try options like BobsBakery.food, Bobsbakery.store, or BobsBakery.info.

2. Add or Reorder Words

If your brand name is something basic (such as a single, recognizable word), you're going to have trouble registering that domain name with any GTLD - let alone with .com. In this case, your best option is to either add or reorder words. 

Let's use the example of a fictional company named "Example Realty." If ExampleRealty.com is taken, you could try adding a single word for a domain like BuyExampleRealty.com, ExampleRealtyCompany.com, ShopExampleRealty.com, or ExampleRealtyGroup.com.

3. Attempt to Buy the Domain

Just because your desired domain name is taken, doesn't mean you can't have it. However, in most cases, you'll have to pay a pretty hefty price tag. While you can personally contact the webmaster, it may be better to pursue a purchase via a broker. These brokers are skilled at handling transactions, negotiating prices, ensuring legality, and protecting your identity. The latter point is extremely important. By veiling yourself, you avoid giving your competition any leverage or future bargaining power.

There are some cons, though, as well. Brokers may charge anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the sale price and will typically tack on additional transaction fees. There's also very little industry regulation and it's challenging to stop unethical brokers from taking advantage of you.

4. Wait for the Domain to Expire

If you still can't find a suitable domain alternative after trying a new GTLD, changing the wordage, or working with a broker to buy the domain, you may have to simply wait for the domain name to expire. This is sort of a long-shot, but is worth a try if you've already exhausted all options. 

If you want to monitor multiple domain names, you can typically use a service like Network Solutions to keep an eye out for particular ones. They'll notify you when a domain is close to expiring, how much it will cost, and when it will be available for new registration.

Don't Get Too Overwhelmed

Ultimately, you can't get too overwhelmed with the process of selecting a domain name. If finding a domain is the biggest problem your business faces, you're doing just fine. While you don't want to underestimate the value of a concise, descriptive, easy-to-find domain, it shouldn't be your primary focus. Instead, focus on creating quality products and services that solve relevant pain points and resonate with customers in fresh ways. If you can get that down, your domain name could consist of a random string of characters and it would still provide a healthy return.


June 9, 2015





Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.






Comments(1)

There's lots more to Domains.
But I'll try to focus solely on "if 1st choice is gone" :D

Have you already generated a list of potential names?
Have you looked at Company Name, Tag/Slogan, Location inclusion etc.?
Have you tested the Domains with a focus group?
Have you checked for possible mis-reads (experts exchange vs expert sex change) etc.?
Chances are, no. So get to it.
If you have - I'm impressed :D
Now, the one you really, Really wanted is gone.

Do you really want to go and get a .net version? Is the .com owner a competitor? Could they potentially get your traffic due to the same name but a different (and often default) TLD?
It may be worth looking at a completely different name.

Adding words can work - so long as you don't add too much to the complexity of the Domain Name, and it's still memorable.
Other base alternatives are to include a location (either country or region or county - if you are that type of business).
You could look at naming the site after the purpose/function/style instead of the company name (so you could have "tilespecialists" instead of "bobstiles" because the other Bob bought the domain a week before you tried to).
Then there is the usage of your tag line or slogan (if you have one). Bob has the tag line of "A tile with style", which is somewhat catchy, so maybe atilewithstyle.com would work for him.

As I said at the start - there is a lot to Domains.
You should really be looking at more than a single TLD.
You should be looking at things like multiple TLDs, at least 1 GeoTLD (for the country you are in), any plurals (or singular) variants, spelling variants (British English and American English, if targeting both countries) etc.

A note about "The Other TLDs".
There is a problem here.
The "self fulfilling .com prophecy" has been around for a Very long time.
Basically, at the start of it all, a bunch of people pointed out that people trusted .com, and distrusted other TLDs. This has been repeated ad-nauseam for over a decade. The end result is that lots of people Still trust a .com more than any other TLD, and due to lack of exposure to other TLDs, it's not going to go away.
So, you have to choose - are you brave enough to opt for an alternative TLD, and push the boundaries - or - will you cave in and further the prophecy?

Expiring Domains can be a waste.
For starters, you have to wait (sometimes for a long time (well, it will seem like it).
Then the reality is - you may not get it.
If you sit and wait, someone else may grab it.
You could go for a "buy when available" option, such as backordering - But - you may find they renew it (the current holder gets first dibs!) - and you get nothing for your time.
Personally, either you throw a ton of cash at it and purchase it from the owner *beware domain-sharks - is the domain really worth that much?), or pick an alternative.

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