So you’ve found the perfect name for your business. Everything is set up, from the business card to the logo. But when you go to register your domain you get an unpleasant surprise – your perfect .com or .uk domain name has already been taken. If you're a web dev, technology provider, SaaS startup, or app developer you’ve probably come across this exact problem.
People have been registering .com domains for over 25 years creating an incredibly crowded market. In fact, about half of all the registered domains are .com, which explains why you probably can’t find the right .com domain for your startup. Or, you can but it will cost you a pretty penny to do so.
But before you throw the towel in and start looking at an entirely new name, or start trying to jam in hyphens in an effort to find something that works, we have a much better alternative route.
Consider alternative top-level domains
At Fasthosts, we know that while .com will always carry a certain level of trust around it, choosing a memorable domain name with an alternative extension is better than choosing to forget the name entirely.
Which alternative domain should I choose?
Not all alternative domain extensions are created equal, however, and we’d strongly advise you not to register a quirky domain name like .lol. Instead, tech pros could look at alternative domain extensions like .cloud, .tech, .pro, .io and .dev, which are all great alternatives to .com or .uk. In fact, they can even make your brand more unique and help it stand out in a crowded online space.
It’s safe to say that back in 2016 when .cloud was in its infancy, it hit the ground running, with more than 2,600 applications from companies to use the .cloud domain. Today, it can be registered to anyone via accredited registrars.
It’s pretty obvious why .cloud was in such high demand right from the very start. The cloud has had a huge impact on tech, computing and how business gets done and this will likely continue into the future.
The dominance of the cloud over the internet certainly makes yourcompany.cloud a very attractive domain name option for companies in the cloud computing industry. But, it's also obvious how the new extension could apply to a wide variety of uses outside of that market. Just get your creative hat on and make it work for you.
The global cloud storage market is growing at an astonishing rate. Over the last year, it added almost $50 billion in business, according to Synergy Research data.
Whether you own a tech startup or company, want to start a tech blog or even build a portfolio for yourself, if you're in the tech industry .tech is for you.
Having a website with a .tech domain name immediately establishes that it has something to do with the tech industry, making the domain name super relevant for you. It also helps your audience recognize you easily and helps you stand out from the rest of the techies.
Short for professional, .pro domains are a great way of showing your customers that you’re a certified, licensed business professional. Once exclusively available to doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers, .pro domains are now open to all licensed and credentialed business professionals.
Because it has only been widely available for a limited amount of time, you’re more likely to get the domain name you really want, unlike .com domains. This is down to its exclusivity to licensed and credentialed business professionals, making the .pro domain an excellent option when you want to distinguish yourself in the competitive online marketplace.
With just two characters, the .io domain is a shorter option than many of the others out there. Shorter is easier to remember, easier to type and just straight up more memorable and unique.
Plus, .io domains are known to be used by tech and startup companies due to its association with the terms ‘input/output’. So if you're a tech pro looking to establish your company in the scene, this could be the domain for you.
If you're a developer, it's safe to say that a .dev domain name is a no-brainer. It's already pretty much globally recognised as being short for developer plus it's short, snappy and says exactly what you do with just 3 characters.
And although your mind might jump straight to web developers or software development businesses, a .dev domain would also be a great choice for a development space like a test environment, telling everyone what you're working on.
Tips for choosing an alternative domain name
With so many options available when it comes to alternative domain extensions, it can be hard trying to nail down which ones you want to use for your business. Don’t worry, we’ve got some handy tips for you.
Drill down into industry-specific domain extensions
Although studies have shown that extensions like .co and .org come in right behind .com in terms of trust factor, they’re quite general and are used by a lot of websites. That’s why it can be a good idea to choose other industry-specific domain names, helping you differentiate your URL for consumers.
For example, if your company is focused on an industry, we would recommend using .io, if you’re focused on consumers, we would recommend .tech. and , if you're a developer, it will be easy for someone to remember that your domain is .dev.
This kind of common-sense logic goes a lot further than you may initially think.
Don’t worry about your alternative domain affecting SEO
We know there are sometimes concerns that using an alternative domain extension will affect SEO, but don’t worry, it won’t. Remember, alternative TLDs have no SEO advantage so there isn’t a TLD that’s inherently better than any other.
In terms of SEO, they all hold the same value for any kind of website that’s targeting a worldwide audience, so you should choose one that’s appropriate to your advertising strategy. In the end, the quality of your content and overall domain authority will have the biggest impact on your website search ranking so you should focus on these bits.
If you see something else that matches your brand, go for it
While extensions like .io, .dev and .tech are certainly great options for tech pros, don't forget that if you get an opportunity to snap up a different domain that's right for you, go for it.
An excellent example of this is Twitch, a site that's used by gamers to stream gameplay in real-time, and cleverly uses the .tv TLD.
In the case of twitch.tv, the context of the site and its relation to TV trumps any preconceived notions of heightened consumer trust that's often almost exclusively associated with .com.
Remember, you can always register multiple domains – you don’t have to choose between one or the other. And it certainly won’t hurt your brand to add a few other domain names to your domain portfolio, a tactic called defensive registration.
What is a defensive registration?
Whether you're a new business or a seasoned pro, it's always important to take a proactive stance and protect your brand with defensive registrations. Even if you already have a domain, it’s a good idea to purchase alternative domain extensions for your business name.
By claiming as many of the new names as possible, you not only ensure that your customers find you easily online, you also help protect your brand and its reputation from competitors, domain trolls and cybersquatters.
With more than one domain, you can use web forwarding to point your visitors to other online destinations associated with your business, such as social media accounts.
We're entering an era where alternative domains are becoming more and more popular, as the price of .com names becomes ever more expensive.
In years gone by, when people thought of a website, they may have assumed that it would end in .com. But this is slowly changing. People are getting more and more used to different TLDs, like .tv and .io, and it's only a matter of time before alternative TLDs become as common as .com.
For now, if you can get a .com, go for it. But if you can’t it doesn’t mean you need to go back to the drawing board, especially when there are so many alternative domain extensions that are great (if not better) options too.
Fancy reading more about domain names and other ways you can improve your site? Check out the website section of our blog!