That said, there is a major problem when selecting domains; namely that it’s not uncommon to find that the website address you’d like is no longer available, leaving you at a loss as to what your next step should be.
Of course it’s not difficult to understand why; when you combine the fact that all domain names are unique with the millions of websites already in existence it’s clear that many of the domains you may be considering have already been taken.
So what can be done to find a domain name that is memorable and aptly describes your unique business, even when so many other domain names have already been registered by other people?
Pen & Paper
Firstly consider settling down with a dictionary and thesaurus, with pen and paper to hand. In many cases its possible to generate ideas for website addresses by finding similar words (synonyms) to describe your business and/or website and you’ll often find that the more unusual or obscure combinations will be available.
Remember that the longer the domains in question, the less likely they are to be already registered. As a result try thinking of two or three word combinations that would work for your website and test them each in turn for availability, such as by using Go Daddy’s Bulk Domain Checker.
Approach Existing Domain Owners
If you find that the domain names you really like are already taken then you really have two options; either try to brainstorm further ideas until you find some available domains that are suitable or try to snag the domains from their existing owners.
In cases where you really want a specific domain name that has already been registered it certainly doesn’t hurt to use a website like Better Whois to find the contact details of the domain owner. Then drop them an email or letter letting them know you’d like to buy their domain. While it isn’t common practise, these private exchanges do happen sometimes and I myself have sold several domains in the past few months after being approached privately by other business owners and entrepreneurs.
If you really want a certain domain name but either the owner won’t sell or has unreasonable expectations about the value of their name then another route you might want to consider is backordering the domain. This means that if the domain owner ever allows their registration to lapse in the future then the domain will immediately be snapped up for you by your domain registrar.
Of course, there are risks to this strategy. There may be other potential suitors also set up to buy the domain if it ever becomes available and of course the domain in question may not lapse for years-if at all-so generally speaking this may not be a reasonable avenue for most people.
Sometimes you get a nice surprise when looking for available domains and over the years I’ve stumbled across a few “gems” while carrying out domain research. Oftentimes I’ve snapped these up, shocked that nobody else has thought of them, and then never actually got around to building a website for them.
Eventually I decide that no matter how good the domain is, it doesn’t really fit into the future plans of my business and so now I have two possible options; either let my domain renewal lapse or, if it’s really good, consider selling it on the open market.
As a result these domain auctions often have a lot of good quality names available if you’re willing to spend some money on them. Often a few hundred to a few thousand dollars will not only snap up a memorable domain, but often even an established one with existing backlinks and PageRank which can help them rank quickly in the search engines.
Two popular examples of domain auction sites are Sedo and Go Daddy.
The next potential strategy for finding a memorable domain name involves searching through lists of recently-expired domains. The reason this can be so beneficial is that if a domain has only just come back onto the market after it’s registration lapsed then it wouldn’t have shown up as being available to all your competitors. Then, as soon as it becomes available, you’re able to sweep in and register it yourself right under their noses.
There are a range of websites now that specialize in listings of recently expired domains, where one can search through these lists using a range of filters such as how recently the registration expired, the PageRank of the domains and the keywords they contain. Doing this can be surprisingly effective for finding “category killing” domains as soon as they come onto the open market. Here is one of the best expired domains marketplace: expireddomains.net
One final technique worthy of mention here are the many domain generators currently available online. Generally speaking these tools are free to use and allow you to brainstorm hundreds of possible domain names to consider. You simply enter one or more keywords and the tools in question then generate vast numbers of potential domains, returning only those that are currently available for registration.
Whilst I have used all these techniques at one time or another, personally-speaking I now focus most of my efforts on the various domain generation tools because they not only check for availability but can also help to significantly increase your domain options.
Mike is a seriel entrepreneur who has built and sold several successful online businesses. His latest work involves a detailed analysis of the best WordPress membership site plugins available right now.