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What to do if your domain expired and was registered by someone else

Updated on November 8, 2011

The other day, I got a very interesting business related email. Let me call the person that emailed me James for the sake of this hub but that is not his real name. James had a problem. He had once registered a domain name and then he got broke and thought it was not cost effective to renew his domain; Happens all the time. But that was not the reason for the email. James was now back on his feet and he wanted to register his old domain again. He was ready to pickup his online business from where he had dropped it. That’s easy to do right? Well, it would have been easier that ABC except that his prime domain was now owned by someone else. His big question was,

Could I please help?

Of course I could. And I replied immediately providing him with my idea of a very detailed “help” Let me expound a little on what I told James in point form.

1. It’s not illegal

The first thing I wanted James to know is that there is nothing illegal that had been done. The current owner of the domain had most probably done a simple domain search, found the domain available and he registered the domain. In fact, rarely will you be the first person to register a domain. If you check the whois records of your domain name, you will probably find that your domain name has had a longer lifespan than you thought. It was probably registered by some other people before you picked it. Here is an example of a whois record for an arbitrary domain that I registered only this year

Registrar History:

4 registrars with 3 drops.

NS History:

12 changes on 8 unique name servers over 6 years.

IP History:

41 changes on 12 unique IP addresses over 6 years.

Turns out the domain is more than a year old so to speak. It was registered by someone else before I registered it and if I ever drop it, chances are it will get a new owner and the cycle goes on and on.

2. It’s not the end of the world

Don’t worry James. There is more where that came from. Let’s seat back and think through this. Am sure we can come up with another brilliant domain name. Ideally getting a domain names is not as heard as some people think. While you may argue that all three and four letter word hot domain names have already been registered, it’s not true that all of them were hot before they were registered. Somebody invested in the domain name, built a brand name over time and lots of cash and now he has a hot domain name. All it takes is some time, some work and some patience. As far as domain management is concerned, luck only happens when you work and when you invest.

3. We can buy it back

Even before I suggested to James that we could buy his domain back, I knew at the back of mind that buying the domain back from someone else is like the proverbial camel going through the eye of a needle. But still, there is some hope however faint and there is no harm trying. The first thing I did was to contact the admin contact of the domain name and explained James’ predicament. Would he be willing to sell the domain name back? In a best case scenario, his reply would be yes, but we need to wait for a year or two. In an average case scenario his reply would be maybe, but at an inflated price. In a worst case scenario, his reply would be a resounding NO! and he would probably spam my email address. A day later, I got his reply. It was a worst case scenario. I believe in keeping the ten commandments of emails so I replied thanking him for his time. He didn’t reply back which confirmed my last email went to his spam folder

4. We can modify the domain

We really don’t have to think of an absolutely new domain name. We can modify the one you had in mind so that it will be as close to that as possible but still different. I sent out some suggestions to James to see which one he would like. Of course I had done a search using the domize tool to make sure all the suggestions I sent to him were available for registration. That way, whichever option of my domain suggestions he picked, I would register it for him immediately. Modifying a domain name is not heard. One simple yet very effective way is to use the thesaurus approach. Think of words that mean the same as your domain name phrase and replace them. But thinking is not that easy. And that's where comes in.

Lets say you want to start a blog on how to make money.You wanted to register but it has already been registered. Solution? Go to and get some other names for money. Here is what you will get:-


almighty dollar, banknote, bankroll, bill, bread, bucks, capital, cash, check, chips, coin, coinage, dough, finances, fund, funds, gold, gravy, greenback, hard cash, legal tender, loot*, medium of exchange, pay, payment, pesos, property, resources, riches, roll, salary, silver, specie, treasure, wad, wage, wealth, wherewithal.


Now you can get an option that is most relevant and try that out. Here are some examples that I would come up with

If those suggestions don’t work, I will proceed to find the thesaurus for make. The best part with thesaurus is that you get real suggestions that people actually type in Google and other search engines. That means you will end up with a domain name that will get you some good traffic.

James was not impressed at my four points of “help.” The only help he wanted was how to get his domain back at whatever cost! Isn’t there another way? He wanted to know. The only other alternative was futile. We wait and watch with the keenness of a hawk until the domain expires, that is if it ever does, then we register it. James eventually saw the futility in this approach and settled for option 4. I hope you never fnid yourself in James' shoes.


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    • ronhi profile image

      ronhi 6 years ago from Kenya


      am sorry for the late reply. I hadnt seen the comment until now. if you still have the content, you can still use it on your new domain. Google usually crawls websites automatically over time and you should not be worried about duplicate content since the indexes are usually revised automatically when the spiders do their crawl. You can get more info on this from google's web master tools

    • Retsced profile image

      Retsced 6 years ago from Ireland

      Hey ronhi,

      Informative post, but what happens to the content on "james" website? Can he register a similar domain and put all of his old content onto his new domain? Will that be regarded as duplicate content by Google?

      The reason I ask is because a Domain of mine has expired and is now gone. I have all my old content saved on my harddrive and would like to register a new domain and insert all of my old posts off the old domain and pick up where i left off, is this possible without running into duplicate content issues.

      I will use your ideas to register a new domain but starting from scratch is really a lot of work as i had over 300 posts on my old domain.

      Love to hear your reply.

      Thanks for the insights.