What’s in a Name?

It’s tough to get a desired domain name these days. There was a time, not long ago, when you could select from a “close enough” list of suggested names if the name you wanted wasn’t available. If that didn’t work, you could also pick the .net or .org version of your preferred name. These days, however, domain names are big business.

Large corporations built internet marketing empires from buying up thousands upon thousands of domain name variations for the dirt-cheap price of $2 to $3 a pop. Initially, they selected the names that they estimated were most profitable to buy and flip quickly. Those $2 and $3 sites could be sold for $5 – $7 each — a price point that the average person wouldn’t grumble or think twice about before clicking the “buy” button. Easy money.

Fast forward 10 or 15 years to today and not only might you have difficulty finding availability for the .com, or .net versions of your domain name choice, but you’d be hard-pressed to snag even one of the newer, less popular crop of extensions — the .us, .me and .media varieties.

Why You Should Go with a Dot.com Domain Name

Let’s face it, competition is fierce in the internet marketing world. Unless you have major SEO and internet marketing skills to smoothly handle the redirects, you may run into website traffic confusion if you don’t have the top level .com for your site name. If you settle for a .net, .org  or similar extension, you run the risk of facing stiff competition from another company and their search optimization geniuses. In the end, you may find yourself squaring off against a parked domain reseller just waiting for you to get frustrated enough to fork over $10,000 for the .com.

So, as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”

You may have run into a creative block when it comes to trying to think of alternative domain  names, or maybe you’re just certain that there’s no other name perfect enough for your online presence. Either way, instead of deciding to settle, you want to fight to claim your rightful domain.

Although you’re determined, you may be at a loss to figure out how to enter into domain name negotiations without paying a hefty fee or dealing with resellers who want to bleed you dry. It is possible to bypass these third-party sellers — if you know where to look.

If this is your situation, here are a few tips to help point you in the right direction:

Start with a WHOIS Search to Find the Owner

The WHOIS database is the official directory that basically stores information about website operators. The WHOIS directory contains information such as:

  • The name of the website owner
  • Where the domain name was registered
  • When the domain was registered
  • Contact information for the website owner

All of this information is readily available as long as the owner hasn’t selected a privacy option during the domain registration and purchase process. Simply go to the Whois Lookup tool and enter the URL. If there has been no privacy filter selected, then you’re good to go. Go ahead and get in touch with the owner and make him or her an offer.

If, on the other hand, the owner’s information is listed as private, you’ll have to move on to the next step.

Look the Domain Up Directly

As mentioned, sometimes people buy domains and keep them parked for later business opportunities, to flip them with a reseller, or, to try and sell them on their own. If the latter scenario is the case, you may be in luck. It’s possible that when you type the domain name into the browser, you may land at a parked page with a message from the owner to get in touch if you’re interested in purchasing the domain. If it’s been sitting on a reseller website for ages with no takers, the owner may be much more willing to accept your offer — after all something is better than nothing.

If you type in the domain name and only find a parked domain or a link to a third-party seller, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Use Auction Websites

There are lots of websites that auction off domain names, and much like used car auctions, you can buy a domain much cheaper at an auction than you would at a third-party seller. Options include:

Try Leasing the Site

It may be a little unconventional, but perhaps the owner would be willing to lease out the domain for a designated period of time if he didn’t want to sell it. You could even try getting him to agree to a rent-to-own sort of deal. When negotiating for this kind of set-up be sure to get the agreed upon terms outlined in contract form.

Hopefully, at least one of these methods will help you secure the top level domain you want. There are a couple of things you should keep in mind, though, if you’re successful in locating the domain owner. Before you make an offer, valuate the website so that you don’t pay more than the going market price for the name. You can use the website, NameBio.com to do this. Also, to ensure that there is no misunderstanding or backtracking about price, use a service like Escrow.com to  to create a binding contract between you and the seller.

Need some help with choosing a domain name that stays consistent with your branding and corporate messaging? Contact us for some ideas and we can analyze your site to let you know what you’re doing right and where there are opportunities for improvement.