Jeffrey is the Co-Founder of Saw.com, focusing on domain sales and acquisitions. Visit www.Saw.com if you want to purchase a domain.
You’re starting a business or undergoing a rebrand, and you’ve come up with the perfect domain name. The only problem is that the domain is already registered. In this case, you have one of two options: You can either choose an alternative domain name, or you can fork over the cash to the current owner. If your heart is set on your first choice, this article will explain how you can go about acquiring that domain.
Beware of buying the same domain with a different top-level domain.
One unfortunate occurrence I see all too often is when buyers decide to go with a different top-level domain (TLD) of their first-choice domain. At first glance, this strategy makes sense. After all, it’s the same name, and it’s much cheaper! Registrars like GoDaddy.com and Domain.com will often suggest this option when you search for a .com domain that is already taken.
It is a fact that internet users typically enter “.com” at the end of the domain name when they type into the URL bar. This means if you decide to go with a .net or a .biz, users who end up at the .com could have a much harder time finding you. All in all, I believe it’s a better decision to pay up for your first-choice domain, and if that doesn’t fit your budget, go with a different name altogether.
Visit the domain to see how it’s being used.
Visit the domain, and check if there is a website. Next, check to see whether it’s active or not. If it is active, then you might have to buy the business as well!
If it’s just a placeholder that’s not being used as a website, you’re in luck. The owner will likely be willing to sell, and it might not be as expensive.
Find the owner of the domain.
Finding the owner of a domain can sometimes be a tricky process. The first step is to perform a “Whois” search, which provides some information about the domain, including:
• Registration date.
• Who registered the domain.
• When the domain expires.
The issue with Whois searches is that many registrars offer low-cost services to keep registrants’ information private. Thus, many Whois searches may not yield useful information for contacting the current owner. If this is the case, you will have to do more sleuthing.
Come up with a budget.
Before contacting the owner and getting into a negotiation, you should first determine your budget. Specifically, come up with a number for the absolute highest offer you’d be willing to make. In order to make an informed decision on your budget, consider using an appraisal service. This way, you know you won’t be paying too much.
Nevertheless, it’s important to know the main metrics that contribute to the price of a domain:
• Length: Three- and four-letter domains are typically the most expensive.
• Memorability and spelling: Domains that are memorable and are easy to spell are typically worth more because they are more brandable.
• Age: Generally, the longer a domain has been registered, the more it will cost.
• Industry: Domains with popular industry keywords are more valuable because they tend to rank higher on search engines.
• Universality: A domain name that could be applied to many businesses in many places is more valuable than an industry- or region-specific name.
• Similar domains: Look at names in the same industry with other similar metrics, and see how much they have sold for.
Much like property, the better the metrics, the more expensive the domain will be. The rule of thumb is that if it is of common vernacular and it is a term, word or series of words that makes sense, the better and more valuable the domain will be. Do not force it or it will confuse people!
Once you have appraised your domain and have come up with your budget, you’re ready to negotiate. Remember to keep notes on the appraisal because it will help you when you enter the negotiation stage.
Contact the owner.
At this point, you can either contact the owner directly via email (that you found via Whois) or use a domain service to reach out to the owner on your behalf.
If you reach out directly, keep in mind that you are in essence knocking on their door and asking to purchase a piece of their property. Telling the seller they are not using it, being rude or fabricating a story will not end in a positive outcome, to say the least. Presenting yourself as a professional who is worth their time to communicate with is paramount to your success.
Negotiate the best deal.
If you decide to go this step alone, know that you’ll have to negotiate all the terms of purchase, including the final price, the domain transfer process, escrow and any laws that may apply. This can be a complicated process, so you may want to consider hiring an attorney to make sure you’re protected and have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed.
What if all else fails?
If you have any missteps throughout the process and for whatever reason cannot acquire the domain, you have other options.
You can simply choose an alternative domain. It may not be optimal, but sometimes we can’t get exactly what we want. Also, who knows how long it may take to convince the owner to sell or wait for the domain to expire. Time is money, so consider choosing an alternative. There are still many premium domains available for purchase.