How to Check a Domain Name’s Availability

Four domain extensions with globe in background.

If you’re interested in starting a website, you’ll want to find a great domain name. That’s step one in building your presence in the cloud.

You’ll likely brainstorm hundreds of ideas and come up with many great contenders. If you’re savvy, you’ll aim for a short domain name that’s easy to spell and remember.

Before picking a domain name, however, you’ll need to find out if it’s available. There are many resources online for checking a domain name’s availability. Here we’ll cover three that we found to be very useful. All are free and easy to use.

Instant Domain Search

Instant Domain Search, launched in 2005, provides a quick and easy way to check a domain name’s availability. Simply start typing your desired domain name into the search field and Instant Domain Search will begin generating results for you.

This feature is especially handy because it can provide you with domain name ideas you might not have thought about.

Try not to press ENTER on your keyboard after typing in your search query. If your desired domain name is already registered and you hit ENTER, you’ll be taken to a new web page with WHOIS information for the registered domain. The WHOIS database is worth getting familiar with, however. It provides detailed information about the people and companies behind domains that are already registered.

After typing your desired domain name into the Instant Domain Search search field, you’ll be presented with a three-column list. In the first column, you’ll see the domain name you typed followed by common extensions for it (.com, .org, etc.). Next to each extension will be one of three tags that will tell you the status of the domain.

If a WHOIS tag appears in red, the domain name is taken. Clicking on the WHOIS tag will take you to another web page that will provide the WHOIS information for that domain. Among the many details on the WHOIS page will be the date that the domain expires. This can be worth keeping an eye on. Sometimes you can scoop up a domain after it expires if the registrant decides not to renew it.

If the word Buy appears in green next to the domain name, the domain is available to register and you can buy it now.

A blue tag indicates the domain is available for sale by an auction partner of Instant Domain Search, which will be GoDaddy or another large marketplace for domain names.

In the center column, you’ll see domain name suggestions, which the site generates by adding popular keywords to the start and end of your search query.

In the right-hand column, you’ll find a list of domain names that are similar to your desired domain and available for sale by an Instant Domain Search auction partner.

There’s also a separate web page where you can search for only those domains that are available for sale. To conduct that search, go here.

One thing to note is that Instant Domain Search results are sponsored, so if you click on a link and buy a domain from a selling partner, the company will earn a commission from the sale.

Lean Domain Search

Lean Domain Search is a lot of fun.

You can enter your desired domain name into the search field or just a keyword or two that you’re targeting. The site will return a list of available domains that contain your search terms.

The site pairs your search terms with other keywords that are commonly found in domain names. We entered “golf,” for example, and in 0.462 seconds (the site prides itself on being fast) we received a list of 560 domains that include the word “golf” and are available, all with .com extensions.

In the menu below the search box, you can sort your results by popularity, length, or alphabetically. We sorted by length, since one of the keys to a great domain name is keeping it short.

You’ll see two other helpful filters below the search box. The “starts with term” filter will return domain names that begin with your search term. We selected that filter and sorted by length. The results were a viable list of possible domains, with GolfRaven appearing first.

Selecting the “ends with term” filter returned a list of domains in which “golf” appeared last, beginning with SteamGolf.

If you find a name you like and click on it, a pop-up menu will tell you if it’s available. If the domain is available, you’re given the option of registering it at When you click on the link and purchase a domain, Lean Domain Search earns a commission on that sale.

Lean Domain Search offers a helpful tip for choosing a great domain name. They say it should pass the “radio test,” meaning if you heard the domain name on the radio, you’d be able to go directly to the website. You wouldn’t need someone to spell the name for you or tell you whether a number in the domain name should be spelled out or if you need to include a hyphen. Good advice to keep in mind.


Namecheckr provides a fun way to check a domain name’s availability on social media. If you want to build a website and go social with it, then it’s a good idea to see if your desired domain is available on social media.

Enter your desired domain in the search field and Namecheckr will return a page filled with social network icons and their associated names. The results will show whether or not your domain name is available with each network.

We searched “pickleballpro” and found it was available as a username on Pinterest and Flickr but taken on Facebook and Twitter.

Namecheckr, a product of Exsom Group, says the use of third-party trademarks on its site is not intended to imply any endorsement by, or affiliation with, the trademark owners. Namecheckr appears to make some money through ads displayed on its site.

Beware of the throttle

Search your heart out but beware that some of the services above impose a throttle (slow down) once you hit a certain number of searches. That’s to prevent abuse of the system and will clear up if you take a break from searching.

We’d love to hear in the comments about how your search for a great domain name is going. We’ll help you further if we can and wish you good luck!

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