There’s nothing worse than dreaming up the perfect name for your small business and then discovering that someone else already owns the associated domain name.
When it happens, what are your options? You might be tempted to purchase the same name with a different extension (TLD) at the end. However, if there’s already an active site using that name, you run the risk of your clients typing the wrong TLD and ending up on someone else’s website.
You could change your business name to something else, but before you give up on your number one choice, it’s worth trying to find out if you can purchase your ideal domain from the current owner.
Your first step is to determine if your preferred domain name is currently in use by typing it into a web browser. If it returns an active site that appears to be updated regularly, the current owner probably won’t want to sell it, and you may have to admit defeat.
But if the site appears to be out of date or abandoned, try the “Contact Us” information to get a hold of the owner so that you can ask to purchase the domain from them. If it’s simply a placeholder or parked domain, it might have purchase information already displayed.
What if there is no contact on the landing page?
If there’s no “Contact Us”, the contact information is out of date, or there’s no active website at all, your next step is to perform a search using a WHOIS service. Unless the domain’s owner has requested that their details remain unlisted, you should be able to find out who they are and how to get in touch with them. You can then approach them directly to offer whatever you consider is a fair price. Be prepared to negotiate, and if you’re not comfortable doing that, you might want to consider hiring a broker to negotiate on your behalf.
If the domain owner is happy to sell it directly to you, it’s a good idea to use an escrow service when you make the payment. An escrow service is a third party that holds the money until you have received the domain and then pays the seller. It will help to protect you from fraud and reduce the risk that the seller will take your money and renege on the deal.
Still can’t get your hands on the domain of your choice?
Alternatively, you can use a domain marketplace like Sedo, Flippa, DAN or Afternic to bid for your domain, which is a less risky option. If all else fails and you still haven’t managed to obtain the domain, you can use a service like SnapNames to backorder it. That way, if it ever expires and becomes available, you’ll be notified and given the option to purchase it.
If you have a domain name you would like to register, Moreweb’s domain services come with a customisable email address, 5GB of cloud storage, and free URL and mail forwarding.