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How to check if a domain name is available or not?

I can’t remember how many people told me that a certain domain is available for registration, and when I asked them to tell me how they checked, they reply: Google. That is not the proper way to check if domain name is available for registration. If the domain is not showing up on Google, it simply means it wasn’t yet indexed by Google! Also, if you type a domain name in your address bar (in your browser), and nothing opens up, maybe hosting wasn’t set up, but the domain name may still be registered.

How do you check if a domain name is available or not?

How to check if .me is available for registration

First of all, it depends on the TLD (top level domain). If it’s a .com it’s more simple because every domain registrar supports that TLD and it’s easy. If it’s a TLD with several policies and laws  (like Croatian .hr) then it’s a different ball game. Even if it is available for registration, you have to be Croatian to buy one.

The best place to check is the corresponding registrar.

How to check if a .IO domain name is available or not?

For example, if you want to register a .io check http://www.nic.io/. If you want to check a .hr domain, go to http://www.dns.hr/. If you want to check .me, open http://domen.me/ This is the best place to check because there’s a lesser chance these guys are front running (like some unknown domain checker, whois info service).

You can’t really buy domain names at these places, so you have to find a registrar where you can register that domain.

Today, when everything is about the Internet, where communication takes place online, not having your own personalized domain name is unacceptable. The worst that can happen is to use the domain name and e-mail associated with your workplace. For example, if you have an opportunity to get in touch with some important people and you give them contact e-mail such as: john@companyname.com they might think that right from the start you want to emphasize a company that you work for, and for that reason you want to get in contact with this person. On the other hand, an address such as john@freemail.com sounds unprofessional so you have to be careful with choosing a domain name.

If you are interested in a more detail course on how to setup a profesionall email address, check it out here.

Own domain name, WhoAPI

One of the reasons for holding your own domain name is that you probably will not keep the same job forever, so if everyone has an email address of your company you are working for, you might lose contact with them after losing that account.

How can I check if the domain I prefer is available for registration?

To check whether the desired domain is available, you can create a free WhoAPI account, and access our APIs, whois API or domain availability API.

What if the preferred domain is already taken?

If your name is very common, like John it is going to be even harder for you. It is very likely for a domain with your name and any other frequent name in the US is already registered. WhoAPI made ​​a study that proves that all .com domains with 3 or 4 characters are not available for registration, but some of them can be bought at auctions for a very high price.  This means that you need to be creative and come up with a domain that will contain your name or nickname. If domain .com is not available , try with other extensions such as .net, .info, .name ,etc.

How do companies find domain names?

For example, WhoAPI Inc. owns whoapi.com. Google Inc. owns Google.com, etc.

WhoAPI team was researching the new domain extensions, and “gathering evidence” on why the .com is the king. At one point I found the list of 100 biggest brands in the world. This is a list containing companies from around the world starting with Apple, Amazon, Google, and so on.

Top 10 global brands rankings table according to brandirectory.com

I checked the ownership with a whois request, and never mind the whois, I opened each of the domains to make sure that there is an actual website representing the actual company I was expecting. I learned several facts from this research. Apple.com, Amazon.com, Google.com, and so on.

1. Short or long, they will go after it

Take Time Warner Cable for example. They own TimeWarnerCable.com but at the same time, they bought twc.com which redirects to TimeWarnerCable.com. Coca-Cola, owns coke.com, and Volkswagen owns vw.com Neat right? If the brand has a long name, they own the long domain, and they also own the abbreviation. On the other hand, if the company’s name or should I say the brand is really short like HP, UPS, Nike, then again they own the .com and in most cases, the short domain opens the website.

Why is shortness an issue? Read here – We are out of 4 letter .com domains.

Protip. WordPress, which is not a top 100 brand, owns wp.com.

2. Some of those domains are ancient

When I say ancient in Internet terms, I mean eighties. I know the ’80s and the Internet don’t really go together, but some of the brands from this 100 list actually registered their .com domains among the first domain registered, ever! Symbolics.com (not a top 100 brand)  was the first domain registered ever, on March 15, 1985. What about companies from our 100 list of top brands? Since getting a date of registration is very easy with our Whois API, let’s check this list.

When did top brands register their .com domain names?

  1. apple.com – 1987-02-19 (19 February 1987)
  2. amazon.com – 1994-11-01 (1 November 1994)
  3. google.com – 1997-09-15 (15 September 1997)
  4. microsoft.com – 1991-05-02 (2 May 1991)
  5. walmart.com – 1995-02-23 (23 February 1995)
  6. samsung.com – 1994-11-29 (29 November 1994)
  7. facebook.com – 1997-03-29 (29 March 1997)
  8. icbc.com – 1995-06-04 (4 June 1995)
  9. huawei.com – 2000-01-11 (11 January 2000)
  10. verizon.com – 2000-03-06 (6 March 2000)

Have in mind that some of these domains were registered before their respective companies were founded. Facebook.com is a good example since it had several moves. The company started on TheFacebook.com. The domain name itself was registered on 2004-01-11 (January 11th, 2004), and the company, then known as TheFacebook, Inc. was incorporated in Delaware on July 29, 2004. As many know, the company then raised significant funding and traction, thus buying facebook.com and filing a name amendment to Facebook, Inc. in 2005. Facebook.com the domain name, was registered on 29 March, 1997.

3. Nissan doesn’t own nissan.com

This brings us to 99 out of 100 brands. Don’t think that this 1 brand didn’t fight hard to get its.com, I am using this brand as an example of how hard brands are willing to fight to get their .com. Some buy their .com, some get it with UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) from squatters. I won’t get too much into that (how top brands got their .coms).

Japanese automaker Nissan is currently the 59th brand in the world. Ahead of Sony, Allianz, JP Morgan, Canon, and many others.

Nissan sues this person Uzi Nissan (his last name is actually Nissan) for 10 million dollars in damages. This battle for nissan.com  lasted from December 1999 until February 2008! However, Uzi still owns Nissan.com and has since 1994. He bought it before Nissan (the car company) was Nissan the automaker (they were called Datsun).  And it’s still not clear if Nissan (the automaker) gave up on it!

Protip – The strategy “you will get a better domain when you have more money” sometimes may not work.

Where to register your domain?

Due to domain name front running, some domain checkers register the domain name before you do! Because of that, I recommend you to choose one of the official ICANN Accredited Registrars because it is the safest choice. You probably don’t want a web hosting company to steal your website and domain name. Furthermore, we’ve written an extensive review on our recommendation where is the best place to register your domain names.


Founder and CEO of WhoAPI Inc. Goran Duskic is an internet entrepreneur since 2006. He co-founded and sold several online ventures, including a web hosting company.

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