Like all consumers, I love to find a great deal on something I want. And like most consumers, I research the object of my desire before I buy. I research everything; from shoes to cars, motherboards to airline tickets. I even research things like potential neighborhoods that I may move into (everyone should do this, by the way). The key is to do your research things BEFORE you buy to avoid potential problems and headaches.

One area that I cannot stress enough the need to research is domain names. You may think that you have this fantastic idea for a domain name, but trust me, you NEED to check it out before you attempt to register with ANY registrar. Thousands of domain names are registered every day, and there are absolutely no guarantees that the one that you just though of is available. Domains are like snowflakes; no two of them are the same and there can be no duplicates, according to the almighty ICANN. That means that, even if the registrar that you choose SAYS the domain is available, if someone with the same idea is half a second faster than you in registering, you cannot register the same domain.

The world of domain registrations is fraught with snipers and vigilante domain tasters that constantly monitor specialized software, designed to look for people searching for the perfect domain name. These stalkers will snap up your domain faster than you can hit the refresh button and will leave you high, dry and domainless. It’s a very questionable practice, but there’s nothing illegal about it. Unethical? Yes. Illegal? No.

When researching a domain, be sure to use a reputable website to perform your search. NEVER drop a domain name into your browser’s address bar and hit go, that’s opening up the floodgates to the domain snipers and you’re almost guaranteed to lose out.

Instead, head over to www.domaintools.com and perform your search from the “whois lookup” on the landing page. From there, you can see if the domain is actually available, or already registered. You can also see, in most cases, what the expiration date is, if the domain is trademarked and sometimes, if the domain is for sale at a different registrar. It’s a wealth of information right at your fingertips!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to tell customers that their domain isn’t available. This is not only frustrating for the customer, but it also eats up a lot of my time, having to do the research, corresponding with the customer, issuing refunds and updating our internal systems. In cases such as this, nobody wins. Customers leave unhappy and without their domains and we lose a customer and have to do lots of fruitless work. If you take a few minutes to check the status of your domain, it saves both of us a lot of heartache and frustration.

What I’m getting at here is this; Never assume that the domain you want is available. There are a LOT of people playing the domain game and many of them might just have the same bright idea that you have. Do your legwork, keep your idea safe by doing a whois search with Domaintools and when you’re sure that your perfect domain name is available, come on over to Spry.com and register with us! We’re only $7.95 per year for domain registrations! Yeah, I know, it’s a shameless plug. What can I say?

Digg It! del.icio.us Bookmarks Stumble It! Google Bookmarks