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It’s a big World Wide Web!

Most Namecheap customers have just one domain name in their account. 90% have ten or fewer.

Because most of us own one or two domains, you might be surprised to hear the total number of domain names registered by people and businesses worldwide: 366 million!

Let’s take a look at the details behind this staggering number.

A whole lot of domains

Verisign is the domain name registry that runs the .COM and .NET top level domains, among others. When you register a domain at Namecheap, we reserve the domain with Verisign. Verisign publishes a quarterly report estimating the number of domains registered at all registrars across the world.

In its most recent report covering the fourth quarter of 2020, Verisign reported that there were 366.3 million domain registrations across all top level domains at the end of last year. This is 4.0 million more than were registered at the end of 2019.

That’s slow growth of just over 1%, but there are some things you should know about that number.

First, Namecheap is growing much faster than domain registrations as a whole. Namecheap customer domains grew by nearly 18% last year!

Second, some companies that run top level domains have marketing and pricing promotions that lead to lots of growth, only for the number to fall when they raise prices. So the actual growth of active websites can be much rosier than the growth rate of domain registrations. Last year millions of businesses created an online presence, but the total number of domains barely grew. This will make more sense as we look at numbers by top level domain.

Chicken choosing domain in front of map of the world

Top level domains and countries

More domains are registered under the .COM top level domain than any other top level domain by far. Over 150 million .COM domains are registered. Nearly one out of every two new domains registered at Namecheap last year were .COM.

You might be surprised to learn that the next three most popular domains by registration numbers don’t include the original domains .NET and .ORG. Instead, the next three are all what are called country code top level domains.

These two-letter top level domain names belong to countries. The countries decide who gets to register the domains and can restrict registration to just people and companies within their borders, or let anyone around the world register the domains.

The world’s most populous country has the most-registered top level domain. China’s .CN domain had 24.7 million domains at the end of last year according to Verisign’s report.

Number two was Tokelau’s .TK followed by Germany’s .DE.

Wait. What? You don’t recall the giant country of Tokelau from geography class? That’s because it’s a tiny island territory in the southern Pacific Ocean that covers just four square miles! 

The reason it punches above its weight class in domains is that the territory struck a deal with a company that gives .TK domains away for free. People have registered millions of domains as a result, although you probably haven’t come across any websites using them.

The rest of the domains in the top ten are .NET, .UK (United Kingdom), .ORG, .NL (Netherlands), .RU (Russia) and .BR (Brazil).

Overall, there were about 160 million country code domains registered at the end of last year. 

A key takeaway is that the number of domains registered in each top level domain doesn’t necessarily equate to how popular the domains are with website creators.

Various domains filed in a Namecheap file drawer

New top level domains

This point is driven home when you look at so-called “new” top level domains. These domains were released starting in late 2013 and include fun domain extensions like .CLUB, .MONEY, .VIP and, yes, .FUN.

The 26 million or so registrations in new top level domains account for about 7% of all registered domains. The most-registered domains might not be the ones you’d expect.

Ranked by the number of registrations, the most popular new top level domains are .XYZ, .ICU, .ONLINE, .SITE and .TOP.

Like Tokelau’s .TK, the leaderboard is driven mainly by low-cost domains. Some of the registries that run new top level domains give domains away for free or at a very low cost. This drives a lot of registrations, although few of the domains are actually used for websites. When registries stop offering cheap prices they lose a lot of domains, so the number of new top level domain registrations has dropped over the past year, dragging down overall growth in domain totals.

Register a domain at Namecheap

While domain registration growth is slow overall, Namecheap is one of the fastest growing registrars. We added 1.1 million new customers last year. Join the club by registering your next domain at Namecheap.

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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