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We’ve all heard the advice that if you’re starting a website, you should use .com. But these days, finding a high-quality .com domain is a real challenge. After all, .com domains have been around since 1985, which has given people plenty of time to snatch up all the good ones. 

Moreover, .com domains are by far the most popular. Of the 359.3 million domain registrations in 2023, 160.8 million were .com domains. That’s over 44%!

So what should you do if you can’t find a .com domain?

One solution website owners have turned to is domain hacking. Domain hacks shake things up by offering a way to grab a unique domain name that doesn’t require a .com.

If you’re having trouble finding your website’s dream domain, domain hacking might be the perfect solution.

What is a domain name hack?

Domain hacking is a creative way to form a domain name by combining the domain name and domain extension (also known as the top-level domain or TLD) so that it spells out a word or phrase.

We’ll dive into some more later, but here’s an example:

The domain hack “” combines the second-level domain “blo” with the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (.gs) to form the word “blogs.”

Short, simple, and obvious domain hacks like this are generally already taken; however, you can use the basic principle to create your own domain hacks using your startup’s brand name.

What domain hacking is not

If you’re interested in online security, you might find the name alarming. But there’s nothing sinister about domain hacking. The “hack” in domain hack refers to a trick (as in “life hack”), not to computer hacking or domain hijacking.

Domain hacks: Good or bad?

There are good and bad elements to domain hacks. On the one hand, they often allow you to get the perfect name for your startup’s website. On the other hand, some users may need help remembering a long or obscure domain hack.

The most straightforward answer is: It depends. A well-crafted domain hack will be remembered and loved by visitors, while a poorly-made and confusing one will be a nuisance.

Pros and cons of domain hacking

If you’re interested in domain hacking, knowing how to do it right and what pitfalls to look out for is essential.

While domain hacks allow you to show off your creativity and make a good first impression, a forgettable and confusing one could be worse than a long .com domain.

Pros of domain hacking

Domain hacks come with several advantages over traditional domains.

  • On-brand: If you can’t find a simple .com or .net version of your brand name available anywhere, you can often use domain hacking to spell it out directly.
  • Short and memorable: Finding a short .com domain is all but impossible these days. While concise domain hacks are just as expensive and uncommon, many more domains that are on the shorter end are available.
  • Trendy: While domains like and have existed for decades, the trend has taken off recently. Thanks to this, there are plenty of domains available.
  • Marketing potential: If you’re happy with your .com or similar domain, you can still use domain hacks as a marketing tool. These can be used as short URLs on social media that redirect to your website. Or you could use them for a particular marketing campaign.
  • Domain investing: Domain investors who snag rare domains could sell them at a profit. For example, the domain hack sold for $100,000.

Cons of domain hacking

While domain hacks have a lot of advantages, there are some less-than-stellar aspects too. Keep these in mind before you jump into domain hacking.

  • Potentially confusing: Overly complex domain hacks could annoy or confuse users. For example, may have been a very popular website, but many users might have difficulty remembering where to put the dots. To solve this problem, it’s a good idea to buy the domains of potential misspellings and redirect them to your official site.
  • Less memorable: A study by GrowthBadger found that respondents correctly identified .com domains 44% of the time — the highest of any TLD. This means that choosing a domain hack may put your website at a disadvantage when it comes to memorability. 
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) problems: Google uses ccTLDs when determining who your website is meant to target, which can result in some confusion if you use one in a domain hack. People from that country may also be confused if they expected your website to be in their language and it isn’t.
  • New TLD instability: New TLDs (nTLDs) were created when companies began to register their own TLDs. Domain extensions like .shop and .online are nTLDs, and they’re commonly used for domain hacks. But they can be less stable than generic top-level domains (gTLDs). In one famous case, the .ga domain was purged due to abuse, requiring millions of websites to migrate. More TLDs could disappear like this in the future.
  • Country code TLD instability: ccTLDs are owned by particular countries and can change their policies anytime. If you’re suddenly breaking their new rules, this could leave you stranded without a domain.
  • Cybercrime: If you own a short and interesting domain hack, you could find yourself targeted by cybercriminals intent on stealing your domain and reselling it at a profit.
  • Trademarks and legal issues: You could be sued if you knowingly or unknowingly buy a trademarked name like
The website offers a good example of a domain hack in action.

Ready to try domain hacking for yourself? Let’s look at some popular examples of how people have used domain hacks in the past. It could give you some ideas for your own domain hacks.

  • A very old domain hack, is a popular domain lookup tool. The domain plays on the command line protocol “Whois,” which queries domains and IP addresses.
  • was once Google’s URL shortener service.
  • Amazon’s URL shortening service.
  • This online music service uses Micronesia’s ccTLD to form a clever phrase for FM radio.
  • Delicious, a social bookmarking service from the 2000s, owned this creative web address.
  • A URL shortening service owned by Bitly. While the default URL is now, was commonly used.
  • A now-closed blog aggregation service, is a play on the word “favorite” and collected content from thousands of blogs.
  • A website for Homebrew, a package manager for macOS and Linux. “Brew” refers to “Homebrew,” while “sh” is a command line input.
  • An alternative URL for the image-sharing service Flickr.

If you want to find more, you can try domain hack tools, which will show you existing URLs based on keywords you put in.

How to create a domain hack

Ready to create your own domain hack and get your domain registered? The process is simple: Just brainstorm a domain hack (the most challenging step), register your new domain and set up domain management with your chosen provider.

1. Choose a domain hack

It’s now time to think up your own domain hack, but where do you start?

The first thing you should do is pick a keyword or phrase. If you’re creating a website for yourself, this will likely be your startup’s brand name. Can you easily break it into two parts? Do the last two or three letters line up with a domain extension or form a word?

Here are some tips for choosing the right domain extension:

  • Consider the generic TLDs: While it can be more challenging due to low availability, you can undoubtedly use domains like .com, .net and .org in your domain hack.
  • Use ccTLDs: Country code extensions are two letters long, and there are hundreds of them. See if the last two letters of your phrase line up with a country code. Keep in mind that many ccTLDs come with extra requirements, like needing to be a citizen of that country, so always do your research.
  • Use nTLDs: New TLDs are the unique and interesting TLDs you’ve likely seen floating around for the past decade. Many are entire words, like .academy, .catering and .services, so making a domain hack with them is straightforward.

Here are some examples of common domain hacking TLDs you could use:

  • .me — Montenegro
  • .co — Colombia
  • .it — Italy
  • .ly — Libya
  • .in — India
  • .es — Spain 
  • .io — British Indian Ocean Territory
  • .to — the Kingdom of Tonga
  • .us — the United States
  • .at — Austria
  • .be — Belgium
  • .is — Iceland
  • .so — Somalia
  • .de — Germany

If you’re still not sure, try a domain hack generator. This can take a word or phrase and help you form a domain hack out of it.

2. Register your domain

Once you’ve considered a few domain hacks, you should check availability using a domain registrar. Bluehost offers domain registration services, so we’ll use our website as an example.

Just type in the domain you want and see what comes up. If it’s unavailable, you could try some of the alternative suggestions.

Here are some alternative suggestions for

If you can’t find the domain you want, you may need to check the WhoIs domain lookup tool to see if anyone owns it or where it’s available. It may take several tries to finally find one you can buy.

Once you do, just add it to your cart. Depending on the provider, you can also purchase add-ons like domain privacy, which hides your real name and personal information.

Purchasing a domain name from Bluehost is quick and easy.

Once you pay, you’ll own your domain for the specified period of time.

Just a tip: If you plan on making a website, web hosts like Bluehost offer a free domain for a year along with hosting. In other words, you may save money by purchasing web hosting first.

3. Set up domain management

Whatever domain registrar you’ve chosen, you should be given access to some domain management tools. These will allow you to configure your domain if you’re using it with a website and change some settings.

With or without a website, Bluehost provides domain management tools. This can be accessed through the Account Manager on Bluehost’s website.

Depending on what you’re using this domain for, there are a few things you may want to do now:

  • Set up DNS records: Manage nameservers, change the DNS records and add new records.
  • Set up redirects: Create 301 and 302 redirects if you use this as a secondary domain or for other purposes.
  • Edit MX records: Change how the domain handles incoming mail.
  • Transfer or assign a domain: Transfer domain names between registrars or accounts.

With everything set up correctly, your domain is now safe and ready for your website.

Domain hacks in 2024: A simple guide

Domain hacking is a great way to show off your creativity while getting a short and unique name. Getting an attractive .com domain these days can be challenging, and domain hacks are a great alternative.
Bluehost can help you find the perfect domain for your business. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to purchase web hosting so your new perfect domain can be connected to a website.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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