When starting a new business, blog or another project, seeing that your first choice of domain name is unavailable isn’t the end of the world; after all, you can always change the name to something else. The same cannot be said of your real name, which chances are you won’t be as open to changing based on domain name availability. So what do you do when your personal domain name has already registered?
Chances are you’ve tried searching for the .com availability of your domain name. The .com top-level domain (TLD) is a logical place to start since most websites end their domain names with .com. The problem is, if the .com version of your name is unavailable, many people at this point will feel stuck and like there’s nothing they can do.
As it turns out, there are hundreds of other options.
Use A Different Top-Level Domain
You might be tempted to try adding a dash between your first and last name. Or maybe you’re thinking it’s time to start using your embarrassing middle name? Or, worst of all, you’re checking if alternate spellings or short forms of your name are available. If any of these are the case, there’s a much better solution that you may not even be aware of.
Since 2014, hundreds of new top-level domains have become available for registration. At Hover, we currently have over 400 and are adding more all the time. If you’re asking yourself, “what’s a top-level whatchamacallit,” it’s just a fancy way of describing the last part of a domain name:
Most commonly this will be .com, but more and more websites are beginning to use different TLDs to register the best domain name possible. Though there are hundreds to choose from, there are two main categories that will help narrow down your search.
Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)
The alternate TLDs you’re probably most familiar with are ccTLDs, which consist of two letters and pertain to a particular geographic location. Some ccTLDs you might recognize with include .ca for Canada, .uk for the United Kingdom and .au for Australia.
Many ccTLDs have specific requirements for registration, most commonly that the registrant is a citizen, resident or business in the relevant country. Other rules include promoting the local culture or language of the ccTLD. These widely varying rules will naturally limit the number of ccTLDs you can register.
If available for registration, you should consider registering your domain name with your local ccTLD if your physical location is important for your personal website. Though anyone in the world will be able to access your site, it will be all the more relevant for others in the same country as you. If your primary goal is to connect with others in the same location as you, then a ccTLD is the way to go.
Several ccTLDs do not have residency or other requirements and can be registered by anyone in the world. For example, .fm is technically the ccTLD for the Federated States of Micronesia, but it is now commonly used by radio stations, podcasters and music websites (e.g. last.fm). Similarly, .co is the ccTLD for Colombia, but many have used it as an alternative to .com, particularly within the startup community (e.g. vine.co).
Some commonly-used ccTLDs available for registration without restrictions that you’ll want to consider include:
Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD)
Besides a few other TLDs like .net and .org, domain options have been relatively limited for decades. The recent and ongoing introduction of new gTLDs has been the biggest development in domain names since the very beginning of domain names. Not only do gTLDs offer an alternative to .com, in some cases they provide even better options for your website.
A generic Generic Top-Level Domain might sound redundant, but it refers to gTLDs that can apply to any site. Some of these are seemingly random groupings of letters, whereas others have meaning but are universal to any domain. Here are a few of the most popular options:
Some gTLDs will help breathe life and personality into your domain name. These may not be the best options for a resumé website that you’re sending to potential employers or clients, but are perfect for blogs or those who like to have some fun with their portfolio sites.
From .horse to .pizza, there are gTLDs for nearly every profession or interest. A relevant gTLD will give your audience a better idea of what you’re all about before they even get to your website. Here’s just a small sample of what’s available:
ccTLDs aren’t the only domain extensions for geographic areas. These gTLDs also available for those of you wanting to represent your local area online:
Find your personal domain name
To find which extension will work best with your website, see our complete list of TLDs. Or, search for your name and see which TLDs are available for registration here: