NIC‘s annual domain report is with us and a preview contains some pretty interesting things to chew over. NIC are the body who oversee registration of the .uk TLD. According to the figures. uk domains are continuing to gain ground.
Firstly, by September of last year 176 million domain names had been registered. Over the last couple of years, it’s noticeable that the growth of increase has slowed down – reflecting both the dwindling number of available keyword domains and the economic slowdown over this period. Even so, 13 million domains were created in 2009, which is enough to be getting on with.
An obvious trend too is the increasing prevalence of country specific TLDs. As Google work towards giving more specific results in discreet territories, the value of holding country specific domains is perhaps being given more thought than just going for generic .coms.Obviously, leaping out of that graph is the growth of the .cn domains as China comes online. It’s probably fair to expect incredible growth from that sector over the next few years – and with ICANN’s efforts towards bringing in non-ascii domain names look set to become reality soon the volume will so go much higher.
Backing up the trend towards country-specific TLDs, the report also includes a survey of internet users that highlights increasing trust in regional domains – with 77% expressing a preference for UK domains.
One thing that is also apparent is the way in which younger domains are allowed to drop at a much higher rate than old domains. Only 61.5% of domains are re-registered after the initial 2 years whereas 90%+ of 10 year old domains are re-registered. This probably shows the rate at which people have some vaguely formed plan about setting up a website and then allowing it to lapse after they fail to get their idea off the ground. The inherent value of an aged domain is also clearly well understood in the market place.
While opinion on the importance of domain names has varied over time, it’s pretty much accepted that a combination of brand and keyword domain is one of the best ways to enter even a competitive market. Despite NIC’s slightly downbeat assessment of a slowing down of growth the in domain registration market, the value of individual domains is only ever going to increase.
Given that, it’s perhaps little wonder that the big commercial registrars are slowly increasing their market share through a combination of knowledge and buying power. The top 20 registrars in the UK average 290,000 domains each – and together account for 74% of the total market.
If there’s one message coming loud and clear from this report it is that domains are BIG business – and whether you’re in SEO, marketing or business itself, you’d better start paying attention to the trends and the availability of domains in your target markets.