How do i register a website domain name

12 steps to buying a domain name that is already taken 

7 MINS
Claire Sy

Your domain name is your online identity. It’s the digital address where potential customers and visitors find your website. However, one of the challenges is securing a domain name that captures your brand identity, especially when others are competing for similar options. 

As of 2023, there are approximately 704,000,000 domains registered on the internet. This means, there may be a high chance that your ideal domain is already taken. Instances like this might make you rethink your brand, but don’t worry—there are tons of creative ways to still get the perfect website name for your business. 

In this guide, we’ll break down the process of acquiring your dream domain.  

Understanding domains 

What is a domain name? 

A domain name is your website’s address, like www.example.com. 

Just as your home address identifies where you live, a domain name identifies your online location. It’s what people type in their web browsers to visit your site, making it a fundamental component of your online identity. 

Note: Read our related post, what is a domain name, for a more technical and in-depth answer.

What are domain extensions? 

Domain extensions are like tags at the end of your web address, such as: 

They tell people more about your website’s purpose or type. For instance, .com is often used for businesses, while .org is common for nonprofits. 

What is domain ownership? 

Domain ownership means you have the legal rights and exclusive authority to use, manage, and make decisions about that web address. To own a domain, you need to register it with a domain registrar and pay fees for some time to maintain ownership rights. 

Since each domain is meant to be unique, once someone else takes that specific domain, you’ll need to negotiate with the current owner to transfer it to you. 

How to buy a domain name that is taken 

Step 1: Determine your desired domain name 

Identify the specific domain name you want. This specific domain name should reflect your brand, business, or personal identity. 

However, it’s important to prepare in case your initial choice might already be taken. Therefore, you need to brainstorm alternative domain names to ensure you can find an available option that suits your needs. You can use our AI Domain Name Generator tool to optimize your domain name creation. 

Step 2: Check the domain’s availability 

Domain registrars often have a domain search feature. You can visit Web.com and use our Domain Name Search tool to check on your desired domain’s availability status. Just type in your dream domain name. If it’s already taken, you’ll see a “Taken” message. 

Step 3: Research the current domain status 

Once you’ve identified if your ideal domain name is already taken, the next crucial step is to research its current status. 

First, determine whether the domain is actively being used for a website or if it’s just parked. An active website indicates that the domain is in use. Therefore, it’s valuable to the owner. On the other hand, a parked domain suggests it’s not actively utilized, so negotiations are still possible. 

Step 4: Contact the domain owner 

Once you’ve identified a domain you want, your next step is to find the contact information of the domain name owner. You’ll find this information through a WHOIS lookup or on the website itself. 

Write a polite and professional inquiry expressing your interest in purchasing the domain. Make sure your initial contact goes well to get a better chance at acquiring it. 

Step 5: Negotiate a purchase price 

To secure the domain, you’ll need to negotiate with the owner. Determine how much you’re willing to spend to buy the domain. Having a clear budget helps you stay within your financial limits. Take note that premium domain names such as “business.com” or “travel.com” can be more costly than generic domain names. This is because premium domain names are more memorable, thus they’re more valuable. 

Finally, approach the negotiation process professionally and respectfully. Keep lines of communication open and be willing to adjust your offer based on the owner’s response. 

Step 6: Use a domain broker service 

If negotiating directly with the domain owner is too difficult, consider browsing through domain marketplaces or employing a domain broker. 

Domain marketplaces are platforms where you can find a variety of domain names for sale. These marketplaces often provide services to connect you with a domain broker. A domain broker is a professional who specializes in buying and selling domain names. They can help you identify the right domain and negotiate on your behalf. 

While using these services can be convenient, take note that there may be fees involved. These fees can vary depending on the broker and the complexity of the domain acquisition. 

Step 7: Explore alternative domain options 

Don’t give up if your desired domain name is unavailable! Think about synonyms or related words that convey the same idea as your preferred domain name. 

Domain registrars also offer alternative extensions beyond the popular .com. Explore options like .net, .org, .io, or industry-specific extensions like .tech or .store. These alternatives can be just as effective in conveying your website’s purpose. 

Step 8: Be Aware of legal considerations 

Before sealing the deal on your desired domain name, it’s crucial to pay attention to legal matters to protect your online investment. 

Make sure your chosen domain name doesn’t infringe on trademarks or copyrights held by other individuals or businesses. You can search on official trademark databases to verify its legality. 

You’ll have an advantage if you familiarize yourself with domain dispute regulations, such as the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP). This knowledge will help you avoid potential legal disputes in the future. 

Step 9: Finalize the purchase 

Once you and the domain owner agree on a price, formalize the purchase by drafting a purchase agreement. It should outline the terms and conditions of the transaction and specify the agreed-upon purchase price, transfer of ownership, and any other relevant details. 

Next, you need to determine how you’ll make the payment for the domain. Common methods include bank transfers, credit card payments, or using online payment platforms. 

To ensure a secure transaction, consider using escrow services. Escrow acts as a neutral third party that holds the funds until both parties fulfill their obligations. It provides an extra layer of security and trust in the purchase process. 

Step 10: Transfer ownership 

After finalizing the agreement, the domain owner will initiate the transfer of ownership through the domain registrar’s interface. They will typically provide you with instructions on how to accept the transfer. 

After receiving instructions, you’ll need to log into your domain registrar account and update the domain registration details with your own contact information. This step officially transfers ownership to you. 

There will be a verification process that involves confirming your identity and acknowledging the transfer request. Once the transfer is confirmed and completed, the domain is officially yours, and you have full control over it. 

Step 11: Follow through the post-purchase procedures 

With ownership secured, there are a few post-purchase steps to ensure your domain works seamlessly. 

If you’re planning to launch a website, look for web hosting services. Together with a domain, a robust web hosting provides the essential infrastructure and server space needed to make your website accessible on the internet. You can also configure your email account if needed. Having a professional business email that matches your domain name helps strengthen your brand.  

Once you’ve launched your website, protect it by implementing necessary security measures. Remember when you checked the status of your desired domain? Once you register a domain and launch a website, your information will be visible on the WHOIS record. You can use Web.com’s Domain Privacy services, to mask your information from the public WHOIS database with an alternate contact. 

Second, you want to protect your website from malicious actors. Web.com offers an array of security tools, including a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate

SSL encrypts the data transmitted between a user’s web browser and the website’s server. This encryption ensures that sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and personal data, remains confidential and secure during transmission. Once site visitors see the SSL certificate on your website, it’ll reassure them that your site is secure. 

Step 12: Monitor and manage your registered domain 

Your journey doesn’t end once you’ve acquired and set up your domain. 

Domain names expire so keep an eye on its expiration date and make sure it’s renewed on time. Missing the renewal can cause you to lose ownership of your domain. 

You can set up automatic renewals with your domain registrar or mark the renewal dates on your calendar. This ensures that your web address remains active. Web.com’s Domain Expiration Protection tool protects your domain in case you forget to renew it. 

Secure your dream domain name 

Acquiring a taken domain name might seem challenging, but with the right approach and persistence, it’s absolutely possible. By following the above steps, you can take control of your online presence and establish a memorable brand on the internet. 

For a hassle-free journey to owning your ideal domain, consider registering it with Web.com. Our user-friendly platform simplifies the registration process, making it easy to find and secure the perfect domain name for your website. 

Start your journey to online success with Web.com today. 

  • Claire Sy

    Claire is a Content Marketing Writer at Web.com. Although she’s just started her content marketing journey, she’s eager to write compelling articles while learning more about the SEO and marketing world. Growing up, Claire had always loved reading, but she started taking an interest in writing through poetry and stories. She also likes playing chess in her spare time.

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