It’s been a long time coming, but you’re finally ready to launch the business you’ve been dreaming about for years! Your plans are set, you chose the perfect company name, and you’re itching to start promoting your brand.

But, wait. You use a domain name search tool only to find yourcompanyname.com is not available. How could your domain name be taken?

It happens. Short .com domain names can be hard to come by these days. The number of domain registrations worldwide has surpassed 329.3 million. While you might think your name is superbly original, many of the “good” names are already taken.

It could be that someone is already using it for a website, or they just liked the name and wanted to claim it. Maybe they have a future business idea that they haven’t yet pursued. There are several reasons why your company name may not be available as a .com domain. Don’t panic – you have options!

Sure, you can try to purchase your domain from the current owner if they’re willing, but you’ll be limited by how much you’re able to pay. Sometimes that just isn’t a practical option.

Note: Before you buy an alternative domain, make sure someone else isn’t using your business name.

If your dream business name is already trademarked, you don’t want to step into legal issues or cause customer confusion. This may be a sign you need to start fresh with a new name.

If there are no trademark infringements on your business name, but the .com domain you had in mind is taken, there are plenty of ways to get creative. Grab a team of co-workers or friends and start brainstorming with our list of seven clever things to do if your domain name is taken.

1. Insert words before or after your company name

Let’s say your ideal domain name was holisticmarketplace.com. You could start by trying theholisiticmarketplace.com or myholisticmarketplace.com. Experiment with variations that tend to work with your business name, but keep it as simple as possible.

2. Add an action word

It’s a simple modification, but this can be a real game changer. Let’s take Ralph’s Pet Food as the company name. You can’t find any other businesses by that name, but ralphspetfood.com is not available.

Play with add-on verbs like getralphspetfood.com, shopralphspetfood.com or buyralphspetfood.com. Not only does it work, but it provides a not-so-subtle call-to-action message.

3. Include a relevant term that isn’t quite your company name

Let’s say your company name is Filter Photography but filterphotography.com is not available. Play around with ideas like memoriesbyfilter.com, filterphotographypro.com, or filterpics.com.

4. Try incorporating geography (if it makes sense)

Incorporating cities, countries – even states won’t work in every case, but it can be a relevant way to narrow down your domain options. Let’s say you have a Nashville-based country band named Old Blue Truck but oldbluetruck.com is taken. Instead, nashvilleoldbluetruck.com could work.

5. Come up with an all new word

It’s a fact that there’s a lot of competition for domain names that other people might think of. You could always redesign your domain or business name completely by inventing a new word. Think about it. Google pulled it off! So did Zillow and Zazzle and Yahoo…

6. Kick-start your creativity with tools

Fountain of inspiration run dry? Don’t despair. Try using a domain name search tool to auto-generate domain names.

7. Use a different domain extension

If you really love your chosen domain name and the alternatives are just not working for you, you can always use a different domain extension. .Com is the most common, but the range of TLDs (Top Level Domains) continues to grow. With hundreds of TLDs available, there’s a lot more flexibility today.

Also, depending on where you expect a lot of your online traffic to come from, many visitors may never even realize that you’re NOT a .com. If traffic comes from referral links (like social media) and searches, visitors to your site will most likely not notice your domain extension. Some of the more common extensions you’ve probably seen are .biz, .net., .ly, .guru, but there are also options for various industries, like:

  • .clothing
  • .pizza
  • .florist
  • .technology
  • .coffee
  • .agency
  • .online

…you get the idea. If you’d like to learn more about various TLDs, check out this article from Google.

Whether you’re brainstorming to modify your name just enough to find a relevant and available .com or you’re starting from scratch, here are a few pointers on selecting domain names:

  • Be memorable. If people can remember your name, they’ll be able to find it online.
  • Keep it simple. Short and sweet is the ticket. Try to keep it to one or two words and avoid tricky words that might be difficult to spell. Avoid hyphens dashes or intentional misspellings. That only complicates matters.
  • Stay relevant. Your domain name should imply what your company does.
  • If someone already owns a trademark, stay away from it!
  • If you’re determining a new business name and will be setting up social media accounts as well, make sure that the appropriate handles are available on your preferred sites so you can keep everything consistent.

Good luck with your domain name selection and remember that it doesn’t have to be permanent. Your original .com choice may one day become available, if you choose to make the transition. The important thing is that you kick off your web presence with a simple, memorable, and relevant domain name that helps the right customers find you online.

Once you’ve selected your domain name, get your business online with our easy-to-use website builder.