When it comes to registering a domain name for your personal or business website, we always suggest keeping it simple, on-brand, and relevant to you and what you do. Many are lucky to find the perfect domain name the first time around, but sometimes the domain name you want is not available.
In this article, we’ll be taking you through how to check if a domain name is available and what you can do if it’s not.
Xneelo tip: what does domain mean?
A domain is the unique address used to identify a website and is associated with an IP address that computers use to locate each other on the internet. In other words, it’s your website’s internet address.
For example, xneelo.co.za is our domain name and extension.
First, check if your domain name is available
Use the Domain Search feature on our domain name search page and enter your desired name, including your preferred extensions in the Domain Search box. An extension, also known as a top-level domain (TLD), follows your domain name and helps categorise the purpose and location of your website. For example, a co.za extension identifies your website’s location as South Africa.
If the domain name is available, you can proceed to purchase it via your Control Panel. (You will need to sign up first before you can complete your domain name registration.)
Your domain name is taken, what now?
If your domain is not available, it means someone else has already registered it.
If the domain you want is not available, you have a variety of options available to you.
- choose a different or aligned domain name
- use a different domain extension
- wait for the domain to expire
- contact the current domain owner
- if the registrar is xneelo, you can request an internal account transfer
We’ll now go into more detail about these options.
Choose an aligned domain name
Play around with the domain name to see if you can add an extra word or even remove one. You could add a prefix or suffix to it, like a verb or a noun, or even the city or country you operate out of. Some businesses, like Merriam-Webster, use hyphenation in their domain name.
For example, if you added a prefix in the form of a verb, your domain name would be shopperfectfdomain.com
If you have a memorable business or brand slogan, consider using that for your domain name. Just ensure it’s recognisable as yours so visitors can associate your website URL (your domain and extension) with you or your business instantly.
In summary, when choosing an aligned domain name your options include:
- Adding a suffix or prefix
- Adding a verb or noun
- Adding a city or country
- Abbreviating or hyphenating your domain name
- Using a brand slogan
Use a different domain extension
47.8% of global websites use a .com domain extension, making it the most popular top-level domain (TLD) extension by a landslide. This means that if you’re looking for a .com extension for your domain, there is a chance it won’t be available. When using our domain search, we’ll provide you with available domain extensions if the domain you’re searching for is not available.
If you’re local, consider a co.za extension instead. You can also opt for a TLD unique to what you do, like .net or .biz for a business, .info for a personal website or portfolio, or .org. If you’re operating an NGO.
Alternatives to using a .com extension include:
- .tv (perfect for streamers)
Wait for the domain to expire
If the domain you want is one of a kind, then it just might be worth waiting for.
Domains are typically registered for one year and if a domain name is not renewed by the current owner, it will become available again. You can monitor the domain’s status and try to register it when it becomes available. There are free online tools available to monitor the status of domains. You can also perform a WHOIS lookup.
Bear in mind that some domains are set up to automatically renew, which means you might need to consider an alternative option.
Buy the domain name from the current registrant
Choosing to buy a domain is a common business practice. As long as you feel it’s a fair price for the domain, there’s no harm in paying for it.
To find out who owns a domain, you can perform a WHOIS lookup. (Note that this is only the case if an owner enables it.)The WHOIS database contains information about registered domain names, including the owner’s contact details, registration date, expiration date, and more. In some cases, the domain will be registered, but there is no web content linked to it, and the owner might be willing to sell the domain to you.
You can also use a domain auction service which specialises in the buying and selling of domains, removing the manual work from your shoulders.
Once you’ve found a suitable alternative, register the domain name as soon as possible as domains are registered on a first-come, first-served basis. Once you’ve registered your domain name, your next step is to set up your web hosting. If you host somewhere other than xneelo, simply point your domain to your hosting provider.
Ready to start your online journey? Find the perfect domain name here.