We thought you’d find this guest post from Claire Broadley useful- it’s on the subject of purchasing domain names. Interested in submitting a guest post? Drop us a line anytime right here.
We’d love to hear from you.
In a flash of inspiration, your dream domain name finally comes to mind. You rush to your laptop, head for a domain registrar and tap in the name with feverish excitement.
Unfortunately, you may find that your epiphany wasn’t as unique as you thought, and your domain has already been taken.
Sadly, most of our first choice domain names were bought up long ago. Availability is dwindling. Despite an avalanche of new TLDs, demand for .com names remains high, making them extremely difficult to acquire. ‘Real’ words are incredibly hard to come by, too.
It’s infuriating to find that your dream name is taken, particularly if the owner isn’t using it yet. But a domain with no website attached can actually be a good thing. It means the person that owns the name hasn’t used it and may not consider it to be valuable.
So how do you go about bagging it?
1. Run a Whois
If your domain is taken, evaluate the registration status of the domain. To do this, you can run a whois query at whois.com.
A whois query will reveal when the domain was registered, when it expires and the registrar in charge of management. In addition, the whois details may reveal the owner’s name and email address, assuming they haven’t purchased domain privacy protection.
Once you know if the domain is in use, and you have an idea of its status, you’re in a stronger position to negotiate.
2. Make Contact
Assuming you have the owner’s details and the domain isn’t being used, just email and ask if the domain is for sale. If the owner isn’t using the domain and it’s not going to expire any time soon, this may be all that’s necessary to buy it.
You might have to negotiate, and it might not be cheap, but the owner might be just as keen to sell as you are to buy.
Another option is to hire a broker who will negotiate with the owner of the domain on your behalf. Many domain name hosts offer brokering services alongside regular registrations: check your registrar’s prices, but expect to pay $100s or $1000s in fees on top of the domain cost.
It’s not the cheapest way to proceed but it increases your chances of obtaining the name if you really want it. Brokers can often oversee the exchange of a domain, which is potentially safer than going it alone.
3. Buy At Auction & Marketplaces
When you checked out the domain, did you get a parking page? Parking pages are normally full of ads and not much else, so they’re easy to spot. Often people put up these parking pages when their domain is listed at auction. It’s worth checking.
The most well known domain auction site is arguably Sedo, but there are others: AfterNic, Bido and NameJet are just three. Even if your desired name isn’t found, you may stumble upon a good alternative.
Brace yourself: even the least attractive domains go for three-figure sums on most of these sites, and you’ll often see domains in the four or five figure range.
Some sellers also list domains on eBay, but make sure your seller is reputable if you’re going to buy there.
4. Backorder the Domain
Active or not, the domain may expire, and that could offer you a window of opportunity in the future. If there’s a website in place but you suspect it’s neglected, this could be your best option.
When you place a backorder request with a domain registrar, they’ll try to grab the name for you the second it becomes available, assuming its current owner doesn’t renew it.
Backordering doesn’t kick in as soon as the domain expires; the existing owner is given a grace period before they lose the domain name for good.
Backordering is never failsafe, unfortunately, and some companies are better at it than others. If lots of people want that domain name, the first to ping over a registration after expiry will be successful.
Also, some registrars are a little tardy about getting involved. It’s risky, but it is an affordable way to grab the domain if it’s not in demand.
Domain Purchasing: Some Safety Tips
While buying a domain from someone is generally safe, be aware of a few basic safety and security issues.
Don’t buy a domain penalised by Google. It can be a nightmare trying to shake a bad history, no matter how great that name might be. Conduct a basic check. Search for the domain name in Google. If it doesn’t appear page 1 for the domain (with TLD), you could have a problem.
Don’t send money via wire or bank transfer. Escrow services are safer. You’ll pay for a third party to oversee the sale, but it’s the only way to obtain true peace of mind, particularly for high value domain purchases.
Value the name before making an offer. See how much similar domains (with similar TLDs) have sold for at NameBio.com. Just because you like the name, that doesn’t mean you have to offer a silly price to acquire it.
Don’t buy it if you don’t have to. If the domain was registered after you registered a trademark, you might have a legal right to claim the domain for yourself if you can prove it was registered in bad faith.
Hopefully you’ll bag the domain you really want by following these four steps, negotiating hard and offering a fair price.
If not, you should be able to find a close alternative at auction. And if all else fails, you can put yourself in the best possible position to nab the domain next time it becomes available.
Claire Broadley is a writer for host ratings site WhoIsHostingThis.com.
Need hosting for your new site?
Check out all our hosting plans here.
Need assistance with getting your web project off the ground?
Check out our Service Directory here.
Photo via The Booklight