How to Get Your Preferred Domain Name

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If you’re serious about making your business a success in these modern times, you need to have a good website. This begins with having a good domain name. Perhaps you want to use the name of your business as your domain name.

This is actually a good idea because it promotes consistency and name recall. Perhaps you have a great domain name in mind that may not be the same as your business name, but is relevant to what you have to offer. This is also a good idea because it lets people know what your business is all about at a glance.

The fact that you already have a domain name in mind will naturally make you excited to go right ahead and start building your official website. So you go to a domain name registration site and conduct a search for your preferred domain name to see how much it’ll cost you. But when the search results come up you find, to your dismay, the domain name you want has already been bought by someone else.

Preferred Domain Name

What do you do? Here are some tips:

Set up a SnapNames account

If you can wait, then this may be the best option for you. SnapNames is a site that allows you to back order a domain that’s currently registered.

This means when the domain’s registration expires, you automatically get a chance to bid on it! It can be very difficult to keep track of a domain if you don’t use a service like SnapNames, which is why we advise you to set up an account with them or any similar site you may prefer.

Make an offer

You’ll never know if the current owner of your preferred domain name is willing to sell it unless you ask.  Check to see if the domain is actually being used by the current owner. If it is just being reserved, then you stand a better chance of being able to buy it.

Even if the owner initially says he/she isn’t selling the domain, try to convince him/her it would be advantageous to do so. Of course, you should expect to pay more for a domain if you buy it from a current owner than if you just bought an available domain from a registrar, but if the name you’re after is really good, then it may be worth the investment.

Assert your rights

If you plan to use your business name as your domain name, here’s something you need to know: Trademark law dictates that the first person to ever use a name in commerce is deemed its rightful owner.

Therefore, if you’ve been in business before the domain name was registered, you just might stand a chance of preventing the registrant from continuing his/her use of that name. For all you know, you may have the right to take the domain name from the current owner.

If the registrant refuses to sell the domain, therefore, you may want to consider checking your trademark rights. Should you determine that you are indeed protected by the trademark law and have every right to use the domain name, you can choose any of three ways to challenge the use of the domain.

  1. You could file for dispute resolution with ICANN, the organization that’s currently in charge of domain name registration all over the world. This is by far the quickest and least expensive way to assert your right to use a trademark.
  2. You could file a cybersquatting lawsuit. Winning the lawsuit can mean getting the domain you want and receiving monetary damages from the registrant.
  3. You could file a trademark infringement lawsuit. Again, winning this lawsuit could mean getting the domain name along with damages. Remember that filing an infringement lawsuit remains an option whether you pursue dispute resolution with ICANN or not.

Choose another suffix

Like most business owners, you probably want your domain name to have a .com suffix. This is understandable, since consumers are generally more familiar with .com domains. The problem is that most .com domains have already been taken.

If you can’t wait for your preferred domain’s registration to expire, the current owner isn’t selling it no matter what, and you aren’t in the position to assert your rights citing the trademark law, then the best thing to do may be to use the name, but with a different suffix (.biz, .net, .org, etc.). Make sure you aren’t violating anyone’s trademark rights when you do so.

Change the name slightly 

If you don’t want to go for a different suffix, you have the option of slightly changing your preferred name. One strategy used by some people is to add an “X” before or after the name.

You could also consider adding a dash if the name you prefer is a two-word combination (e.g. home-business instead of homebusiness). You also have the option of slightly changing the spelling of the words or using a short-cut version (e.g. homebizness or homebiz).

Again, you should make sure you aren’t violating anybody’s trademark rights when you choose to apply any of these strategies. Even if the name you use isn’t exactly the same as the one that’s already registered, you could still be deemed guilty of trademark infringement, which is why you need to be very careful.

Take your cue from domain services experts like Lawrence Ng and review the trademark law before deciding on a variation of your preferred domain name.

If you’re in luck and you find your preferred domain name available, then be sure to get it registered immediately! Believe it or not, many business owners have had the misfortune of waiting just a single day to buy a domain, only to find it already registered. Remember that there are people constantly monitoring domain name searches.

If they notice someone checking out a particular domain, they just might buy it so they can resell it at a higher price. Even if you’re not sure that you want that domain name, buy it anyway. You could always sell it later if you choose not to use it.

When you decide to register a domain name, be sure to do so for multiple years. Your search rankings can suffer if you register a domain for only a year and fail to retain ownership the following year. What if, after doing everything you possibly can, you still fail to get your preferred domain name? Well, it’s not the end of the world! There are thousands of other names that can work just as well. All you need to do is to keep looking.

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Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc - a top rated Vancouver-based company that provides SEO services in Canada.

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