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Recalling 2017: The Year in Domain Data

Iris Rigter

It is safe to say that 2017 was a turbulent year in more ways than one. There was the ongoing clash between WHOIS information and user privacy, the hope that top-level domains would finally take off and multiple hacks of large corporations that reignited talks about cybersecurity.

While many of these topics are essential and will likely resurface again in the coming year, it is also important to look back at 2017 through unambiguous data. That is why we have analyzed more than 60 million domains we found and indexed for the first time in 2017 for comprehensive insights.

Generic top-level domains maintain their popularity

It was June 2017 when the capacity of the dot Com domain became a point of contention. An article published by Quartz claimed that we were running out of useable dot Com names rapidly, and it seemed to cause a stir in other media. It was also, however, soon debunked by those mentioning the domain aftermarket and the frequent reselling of valuable domain names.

If we look back at last year, it's clear that the end of the dot Com domain is indeed not yet here. The most successful top-level domain was still dominant among new websites and used for almost 60 percent of all domains created last year. Nearly half of these domains were registered in the United States, followed by 16 percent in China and only 5 percent in Canada.

Other generic top-level domains seemed to rule as well, with gTLDs making up roughly 70 percent of all registered domains in 2017. They were followed by new generic top-level domains with a market share of 17 percent, with the most registrations for dot Loan and dot XYZ. Country-code TLDs were falling behind and accounted for only 14 percent of all created domains.

No stopping eCommerce growth

It will come as no surprise that the online retail industry is still on the up. Many reports already mentioned this, and our data can confirm these claims. We noticed almost 660000 new online stores in our database during 2017. These mostly appeared in the United States (28.1 percent), but China (18.5 percent) and Canada (10.3 percent) also played a big part in last year's eCommerce developments.

It seems that payment provider PayPal is still a considerable player in the market. Their payment method was available in 70 percent of all online stores created last year. In comparison: Chinese competitor AliPay was detected in only 5 percent of eCommerce websites founded in 2017.

Almost a third of these online stores preferred an in-house developed or moderated shopping cart system, but we also saw a definite rise of the out-of-the-box eCommerce solution. Systems like Shopify (24.1 percent) and WooCommerce (15.7 percent) had a significant share of the market.

What is perhaps more surprising given the recent popularity of cryptocurrency, is the fact that the digital coin's rise to fame does not seem to translate into actual use. Of all online stores first created in 2017, only 2.5 percent accepts Bitcoin in return for their goods or services. This is a very slim share compared to the availability of PayPal (70 percent), Visa (60 percent) and MasterCard (46 percent) as payment options.

Almost 60 percent of websites developed

There is, of course, a big difference between registering a domain name and developing that domain into a site. In 2017, we saw that just 60 percent of all domains turned into a website. This number corresponds to the overall average we see in our entire database — around 60 percent of all domains become websites.

Of these developed websites, WordPress was undoubtedly the most popular CMS used. Almost 55 percent of the sites built using this system, which has a massive lead over competitors such as WIX (11 percent) and Squarespace (7 percent). The most popular scripting language found was ASP used on half of all websites, followed directly by PHP (42 percent).

Many Internet users now use mobile browsing to visit the web, but website owners don't seem to follow this trend. In 2017, only 60 percent of created sites had a version that was optimized for mobile to ensure that its visitors could access the website on their handheld device.

Security not yet top of mind

It was difficult to miss last year: cybersecurity issues were omnipresent. From ransomware to hacks, everyone seemed to encounter online safety problems. You could thus expect that website owners would be more vigilant when it comes to securing their websites in 2017, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Of the developed websites created last year, only 24 percent added an SSL certificate to encrypt the information processed through their site. Free open certificate authority Let's Encrypt did well in this market — over half of all certificates requested last year was issued by them.

Looking forward

The year 2017 saw the ongoing popularity of generic top-level domains, the expected rise of eCommerce and a missing response to security issues. What do you think we can expect for 2018?

By Iris Rigter, Communication Advisor at Dataprovider.com
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