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Date Published: 8th September 2015

What happens when the domains run out?

You have finally got the perfect name for your business or product and go to register your domain. Of course, the most sought after are ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ this is when you realise that your preferred domain is taken and promoting your business online is going to get more complicated.

There’s an army of domain resellers and cyber squatters out there, they make their money out of buying up popular domains and selling them back to companies or brands with a huge markup.

You have the option to use a different domain extension eg ‘.org’ ‘.net’ ‘.fish’. But we have been programmed to type ‘.com’ at the end of a url, so if the ‘.com’ is taken and you go for a different domain extension, it is likely that you will lose traffic to the ‘.com.’

Even with the various domain extensions there will become a time when there really are no domains left – certainly not relevant ones.

In 2013, four letter domains ran out – ‘.com’ according to circa news, with 2 and 3 letter ‘.com’ domains have been taken for years. Although not all of these domains are being used, it is estimated that domain resellers/investors are sitting on 30% of them. But no unclaimed 2/3/4 letter domains are available as they are short and easy to remember, making them the most expensive and sought after.

This adds to the challenge for agencies; when a client comes to you for a complete rebrand, their name is one of the prime factors of their business service and proposition. However, nowadays it is not just about coming up with a fitting, appropriate, even ‘cool’ name – creative sessions dreaming up grand ideas can often be brought back down to earth when someone says ‘is the domain available?’

No matter how perfect a name is, if the ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ domain is taken, you often have to throw this ideal away. It would not look good if a stationery company was branded ‘Pencils R us’ only to be thwarted at the domain choosing stage because someone has already hijacked the perfect URL… ‘pencilsrus.pen’ just doesn’t deliver like a .co.uk or .com would. The further you move away from a brand name in a domain, the harder you have to work to try and explain the brand. If it’s not instinctive, hard to spell, or a made up word to overcome the domain drought you’re in for some disappointment or serious expense!

It is estimated that in 5 years (2020) there will be no domains left, especially brand names that are ‘real words’ which are memorable and appropriate. So grab your preferred domains now and don’t let them expire, as they will be snapped up!

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