How to buy a domain name — even if your first choice is taken
You’ve got a great business idea and you’ve chosen the perfect business name. But then you search for the matching domain name at an auDA-accredited registrar — only to find that your dream domain name is already taken. You’re devastated. But all is not lost; there are lots of options if the domain name you want is already in use. Discover our top tips on how to buy a domain name that will get your business started.
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How to buy a domain name
Many people find that their first-choice domain name has already been registered by someone else — especially if they’re set on a .com. Here’s what to do if this happens to you.
Check if it’s for sale.
Ask for help.
Use a different extension.
Add an extra word.
Choose a domain name with a location.
Choose a different business name.
Already typed the name you want in the SEARCH box above and it came back unavailable? Here are six things to try.
1. Check if it’s for sale
Just because someone has already registered the domain name you want doesn’t mean they’re using it. So the first step would be to use the GoDaddy WHOIS domain lookup tool to find out who owns that domain. The WhoIs database typically includes a contact email that you can use to send an offer to the owner to try to get the domain name.
2. Ask for help
If the domain name you want is taken, GoDaddy might be able to help. Many of these names are premium domain names — short, memorable, easy-to-spell domains that end in a popular extension like .com. These domains tend to cost more than the average domain name, because they are shorter and more memorable and therefore more likely to drive traffic.
To purchase a premium domain name that you see listed in GoDaddy’s domain search results, simply add it to your shopping cart and proceed through checkout. Read more on the process and costs here.
For a fee, a GoDaddy broker can approach owners of domain names to ask if they will sell.
The domain name owner might have registered a clever website name with the intention to sell it in the future. If they want to sell, your GoDaddy agent can negotiate on your behalf. Depending on the popularity of the domain name, and the owner’s wishes, the price might be a few hundred dollars up to many thousands.
If the asking price for your favourite domain name is out of your budget, or if the owner doesn’t want to sell, we’ve got lots of suggestions to help you come up with another memorable and useful domain name.
3. Use a different extension
The domain extension is the part that appears after the dot. If YourBusinessName.com.au is already taken, you could try your business name in a different extension.
The most common domain name extensions for Australian businesses are .com and .com.au.
In order to register a .com.au domain name, you must be registered to do business in Australia and hold an ABN (Australian Business Number). Ideally the domain name you choose will be a version of your business name or a relevant product or service.
If the .com.au extension with your name is taken, consider the same domain name with a different extension. Depending on the focus of your business, you could consider one of these:
- .org.au for not-for-profit companies or registered charities.
- .biz or .solutions for IT, accounting or any service that fixes a business problem.
- .online for the web shop to complement your brick-and-mortar retail store.
- .life for interior design, wellness products, fitness and lifestyle blogs.
- .land for farmers, real estate agents and developers.
- .club for associations, sporting clubs, bars and nightclubs.
- .guru for when you’re the expert in your field.
- .photos, .photography and .gallery for photographers or photography bloggers.
- .space for startups, artists and coworking spaces.
- .xyz for any type of website, particularly those with worldwide appeal.
- And many more — view the full list.
Even if you can get the domain name you want with the .com.au extension, it’s a good idea to register the same domain name with other extensions that are relevant. This stops other businesses from using your chosen name with another extension and confusing your customers. Simply direct all secondary domain names to your primary domain (the one your website is built on). Customers who type in any of the secondary domain names will be automatically taken to your website.
4. Add an extra word
This is particularly useful if you want to use your personal name for your business domain name, but you have a common name or it’s already taken. If YourName.com.au is taken, you can add a word explaining what your business does.
If you’re a florist, try YourNameFlowers.com.au. A plumber might try YourNamePlumbing.com.au.
Another advantage of this is in keyword search. Having the service or product keyword in your domain name could help to bump you up the Google search rankings for that keyword. The higher your site appears in search rankings, the better.
5. Choose a domain name with a location
If your business services a specific location, you can search for domain names with those words. Let’s say your business is an antique store in a specific suburb. Antiques.com.au is already taken, but if you’re the only antique store in Weston Creek, then WestonCreekAntiques.com.au might be suitable and available.
.sydney or .melbourne would be a great choice for businesses located in these cities.
Google search often suggests businesses that are close to a user’s location, especially when the user is searching on a mobile. So if a customer searches for ‘antiques’ and they are in your suburb — and your suburb is in your domain name — your business is more likely to show up in their search.
6. Get creative
While it’s most common to use the business or brand name in your company’s domain name, there are other options. You can get creative. If your business sells products, you could name your website after your most popular product.
Let’s say your business is called RainRain and you make umbrellas, but the RainRain.com.au domain name is already taken. You could try a domain name about your product, like BestUmbrellas.com.au.
As I mentioned, it can be an advantage to choose a domain name that includes keywords that a customer might search for when they’re looking for your product. In this example, a customer searching for a good-quality umbrella is more likely to search for ‘best umbrellas’ than ‘rain rain.’ (Read “Mastering keyword search to attract new clients” for detailed instructions on how to find your own keywords.)
If your business might branch out into other types of products in the future (like adding raincoats and gumboots to your range), consider carefully if this choice of domain name will suit your business as it expands. Choose a domain name that gives you some flexibility to add new products.
7. Choose a different business name
If your business is still new (or a spark of an idea) and you don’t yet have a brand presence in the market, you might be able to come up with a new name. Brainstorm alternative business names and check if the matching domain name is available for each option. This process might lead to a business name that is even better than your first idea.
If you’re stuck for ideas, you can engage a creative brand consultant to help you; that’s their specialty.
Be aware of trademarks
It’s a good idea to check for trademarks before committing to a domain name. Businesses can trademark certain words and combinations of words to stop other businesses from using them. Nike is the name of a goddess in Greek mythology, but the word Nike is trademarked by the famous sporting goods company to stop other brands from using the word as a brand name. For this reason, another business wouldn’t be allowed to register the domain name nike.tv even if it was available. Small businesses can also register trademarks, in order to protect their brand.
You might receive a ‘cease and desist’ letter, and be forced to change your business name and domain name if it went to court. It’s best to check for trademarks at the beginning and avoid any problems.
How to buy a domain name — with confidence
You can work through the steps above to find an available domain name that works for your business, even if your first choice isn’t available. Register the domain name — plus any alternative domains you want to secure — with GoDaddy. Soon you’ll be the proud owner of a new website and a booming business.
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