How do I check if a website name is available?

Aug 14, 2019 · by Domains Direct · 3 min read How do I check if a website name is available?

Congratulations on coming up with a great domain name for your business. This is a big step, considering the domain name you choose will be the face of your company. It's the URL that online visitors will be using to find you.

But before you get too excited, have you checked to find out if the domain name is still available? If not, this needs to be first on your to-do list.

Checking your domain name availability on Whois

Whois offers one of the safest and most secure ways to check if your domain name is available to register. Pronounced "who is," this is a trusted system that was specifically created to help users find out all they want to know about a domain name. Besides finding out if a domain name is available, Whois can also reveal the contacts details of who registered it.

Every time someone registers a new domain name, the registrar has to ask for specific contact information, as required by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

This information will then be stored in the Whois database and availed to anyone who requests it. So unless the owner of the domain name has decided to make this information private, anyone can easily check with Whois for the contact information of any registered domain name.

But first, how do you use Whois to find out if a particular domain name is already registered or if it's still available for your registration?

We recommend using the ICANN website to check your domain, as they are neutral, and won't be trying to sell you services.

If your domain choice is available you'll see one or both of the following messages:

The requested domain was not found in the Registry or Registrar's WHOIS server.
No registry RDAP server was identified for this domain. Attempting lookup using WHOIS service.

You can then proceed to register the Domain with your preferred domain registrar.

If the domain is already registered it will show you the associated details, including the registrar, where it's hosted, and who owns it.

What if the domain name you wanted is not available?

You thought of a perfect domain, and then rushed to Whois only to find it's already registered. Don't worry, this par for the course – all the best names are already registered. But don't panic, there are always alternatives.

Here are some pointers to help you get through the crisis:

Check your rights

If you believe you're entitled to the user of a domain, you may have some recourse. Check out our guide on what to do when someone else owns your domain.

Try a different domain

We get it. You wanted a domain name with a .com extension, but since it's already taken, why not look to an alternative TLD. There are now hundreds of new extensions like .website .online and .blog

Add a noun

What other word do you think would go with the domain name you have? If your blog is about photography and you happen to own a studio, why not add "studio" or "media" at the end of the domain name?

Add a verb

Add a prefix or suffix like "get", "hq", "try", or simply your 2-letter country code. This has become a popular alternative where the .com is taken, e.g. getdropbox.com

Negotiate with the owner

Check if the domain name is operational by running it into your URL bar. Where the owner is not using it, you can always reach out to them and ask if it's up for sale. Use a broker service like sedo.com to act on your behalf to negotiate a fair price.

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