What to do if the domain name you want is taken?

So you’ve come up with a great domain name...only to find out that it’s already been taken. Hey, it’s okay! It happens to the best of us. There are many wonderful domain names out there, and plenty of ways to find another one that will work for you — or to potentially claim the one you want. Here are some helpful hints for what to do next:

Make a small change

If the exact domain name you want isn’t available, a very similar name may still be. Sometimes making a simple change will result in a name that’s available. Remember: the key word is simple.

Use a new ending: One way to keep the domain name you want may be to simply change the ending. The most used domain ending or TLD (“top-level domain”) is .com, but there are now a variety of TLDs, ranging from .academy to .coffee to .zone. A TLD that’s relevant for you may even help explain and exemplify what you do. Get the full scoop on TLDs and whether one is right for you in our post about how to choose between traditional and new domain endings.

Make a tweak: Are there any easy additions or subtractions you can make that will change up your name? If you’ve already established a brand or business name, you can try different ways of building on the name. For example, if “mydogjoe.com” is taken, you can try to get “meetmydogjoe.com” or “mydogjoe.rocks.” If your brand isn’t established yet, you could alter your name based on what’s available.

The key to a good domain name is simplicity.

Don’t complicate things: The key to a good domain name is simplicity, so be careful not to complicate your name in an attempt to find one that’s available. For example, avoid things like hyphens, numbers or funny spellings—they’re hard to type and remember, and can lower the perceived credibility of your site. It’s better to go with a simpler second choice for a domain name than to over complicate your domain in an attempt to get closer to your original pick.

Stick with your first choice

Stuck on your fave name? These may be your only options for landing it. It might not possible, but sometimes it’s worth a shot.

Try to buy it: You can always offer to purchase the name you want from the current owner. If the Whois information is public, you can reach out to the domain owner and see if they’re interested in selling. If the info is private, you can see if they have contact information listed on their website. Keep in mind: it’s pretty unlikely that the owner will want to sell, or they may ask a steep price for it.

Legal action: If you own the trademark to the name used in the domain, you may have an option to take legal action to claim the domain name. This generally applies only if someone is offering similar goods or services as you and if they began using the name after you. The first thing to do if you believe your trademark is being infringed upon is to contact your lawyer or legal team.

Start fresh

The easiest and best option may be to come up with another name. Here are some good reasons why:

Red flag: If the name you want is already taken, it means that there’s another entity using that name. Trying for something similar may create an originality issue or customer confusion, as well as potential legal issues. Do some research to find out if the name you want is already a brand name or trademark. Your domain name should be unique to you, as well as free of any potential infringements.

There’s no such thing as the perfect domain name.

Forget perfection: An important thing to remember is that there’s really no such thing as the perfect domain name. You can waste a lot of time trying to work with your original idea when a perfectly decent domain name is out there right now. Why not go back to the drawing board and come up with something new, fresh and memorable?

For help brainstorming a new name, check out some tips in our post about how to come up with a good domain name.

With these strategies, it’s time to start planning your next move. Our last bit of advice, as you may have learned, is that it’s a wise to come up with a few backup names if your top choice isn’t available.

Ready to take another stab at finding a great domain name? Start searching now with Google Domains.