Choosing a business domain name (when your first choice is already taken)

If your desired domain name is taken, don't fret: there are creative solutions if you look a little harder...

If your desired domain name is taken, don't fret: there are creative solutions if you look a little harder...

Choosing an ideal domain name for a business website is easy: it's probably YourBusinessName.com, right? Well, while choosing is the easy part, registering your business' exact name as a website domain can be much harder.

It may or may not surprise you to learn that creativemindshq.com wasn't my first choice for domain name when I started my business and needed a website. Of course, my first choice was creativeminds.com.

When I started Creative Minds, my first choice of domain name was already registered by someone else, yet no website operated at that address. This practice of buying a domain and not setting up a website is called squatting. (It's likely that a domain name made up of 1-2 common English words paired with the suffix .com, is already registered - either by a reputable business, or a squatter).

Creative Minds as a domain name, with almost all of the common suffixes (.net, .com.au etc), was either already registered, or on perpetual 'back-order', which means that in the unlikely event the domain name owner forgets to re-register the domain before it expires, it will fall into my waiting arms (as long as I'm paying an annual backorder fee to a domain name supplier!).

Of course, I could have bought my business' domain name from the squatter - one of them actually offered to sell my domain to me for $2500 - but like most people, I bootstrapped my business (still do!) and buying a domain name from a third-party wasn't, and still isn't, an option.

Domain names for small business owners: a creative solution

In my quest for a better domain name, I found a whole stack of other domain name suffixes that are available to register. The choice of top level domain names available on the internet is quite surprising, and it opens up a lot more options for domain registration when you're starting a business or launching a website.

Some domain name suffixes are quick and easy to say (when you have to say your domain name out loud, which probably happens more than you think), like .co, or .biz. Though .biz really makes me think of a 1990s-era web 1.0 website.

Some options are a bit more left of field, like .soy, .lol, or .vodka. But if you're in the soy or vodka business, you're set!

For creative businesses, there are some business domain name options that make sense if your business name's .com is already registered: 

  • .design
  • .agency
  • .band
  • .blog
  • .florist
  • .media

Unfortunately for me, there's no .books. Sad face.

Domain name suffixes that are part of your business name: a convenient solution

If you're really lucky, you might find a combination of letters available as a domain name suffix that are actually the last letters of your business name! Some of them are the domain name 'country code' like .mm (Myanmar) or .ro (Romania). While some country-specific domain names require you to prove your business registration or connection to that country, many are able to be registered no matter where you live.

This option might even help you decide on a business name, if you're still at that stage and if having a catchy domain name is important for your business success.

Where can I find these different domain name options?

Most of these suffixes are available at the major domain name registration portals (think GoDaddy and NetRegistry) and some you have to go to the source (like .co). Wikipedia has the whole list here.

I hope this information has flexed your creative mind muscles to come up with something apt for your website domain name, even when your first choice isn't available (and I look forward to such times when you're making enough dough to buy your ideal business name, whatever the expense!)