There are more than 300 country code top-level domain (ccTLD) extensions with ongoing changes on a regular basis. Many people don’t realise but a two letter domain extension relates to a ccTLD which can prove popular for an array of different reasons. Before we look at some of the best ccTLDs, it is worth noting that some countries have registration restrictions. However, others take a free for all approach. Such restrictions may include proof that the individual/company is resident in the country.
The best and most popular ccTLDs
VeriSigns recently published an in-depth report on domain extensions which has cast a very interesting light on this subject. Here are some basic statistics to whet your appetite:
- As of 31 March 2018 there were just over 146 million domains registered with a ccTLD
- In the three-month period to 31 March 2018 ccTLD domain registrations increased by 200,000
- In the 12 month period to 31 March 2018 there were 1.9 million new domains registered with a ccTLD
- The top 10 ccTLDs account for a staggering 65.3% of all ccTLD domain name registrations
- Imagine all the types of TLDs, not just country codes. As of 31 March 2018, there were 333.8 million registered domain names
- During the 12 month period to 31 March 2018 there were 3.2 million new domain name registrations
Now let’s take a look at some of the more popular country codes.
Top 10 ccTLDs as at 31st March 2018:
It is no surprise to see the vast majority of ccTLDs listed below although there may be some unexpected additions.
China obviously has a huge population and is a country which many non-Chinese businesses would like to trade with. So, this is no surprise, .cn is the most popular ccTLDs. On the downside, it has a massive problem with spam which is proving very hard to control.
You will not be alone if you have never heard of Tokelau. In fact, it is a remote group of atolls in the South Pacific Ocean – between Hawaii and New Zealand. The .tk ccTLD is actually owned by a Dutch company. Unfortunately, it has since been used excessively by spammers and fraudsters to send phishing emails.
Germany is the powerhouse of Europe and with the UK government currently pursuing an exit strategy from the European Union perhaps it is no surprise to see the .de extension so popular.
.uk (United Kingdom)
While the likes of .co.uk have been the TLD of choice for many UK businesses, we can safely assume that .uk ccTLD is growing in popularity as a consequence of Brexit. The UK is still one of the largest economies in the world and the decision to go it alone could well increase the value of .uk extensions. There is speculation that some UK companies will look towards .ie domain variations. Supposedly, it could give them a virtual/physical presence in the Republic of Ireland and entry into the EU?
.ru (Russian Federation)
Russia has been in the news of late with accusations of meddling in foreign elections and strong connections with Donald Trump. Looking at the broader picture, Russia has a huge population and while democracy may be served in a different fashion to the western world, we know that .ru ccTLDs are extremely popular.
It may surprise many people to learn that the .nl ccTLD was one of the 1st to be released back in 1986. As a consequence, it appears to have a relatively deep-seated popularity amongst businesses and individuals. We know there are in excess of 5 million domain names registered with the .nl ccTLD.
The reason why Brazil is one of the more popular ccTLDs is simple – it has the largest population in South America and a growing number of worldwide trade agreements. While the economy in the region can be volatile, many expect significant growth in the number of .br domain names in the future.
.eu (European Union)
While the .eu ccTLD has been extremely popular for many years, offering exposure to a huge economy, Brexit will no doubt have increased its popularity. As many UK companies strive to maintain trading links with their European Union partners, the acquisition of a .eu domain name would seem sensible (see below for further information).
France is fast becoming a powerhouse within the European Union and will take the second seat at the table, behind Germany, once the UK finally leaves. It is fair to say that the e-commerce revolution in France continues to gather pace and the growing economy is proving attractive.
Australia is a country which is often underestimated with regards to its trading prowess and reputation on the international stage. Isolated from neighbouring countries by vast oceans it was one of the more proactive countries when it came to the Internet revolution and growth in e-commerce.
Other popular ccTLDs
There are some very strong trends within the ccTLD market, many of which are related to underlying political/economic issues, but there are some anomalies which caught our eye. It is safe to say that some of the countries in the list below will be a mystery to many people but they have caught the imagination of online businesses looking to create their own identity.
.ac Ascension Island
This particular ccTLD has proven very popular amongst accountants even though the vast majority of visitors will never realise it actually relates to the Ascension Islands. For many surfers looking for financial assistance the .ac speaks volumes.
Over the last few years we have seen major developments in the world of artificial intelligence which has created a very active market for Anguilla domains. It goes without saying that the .ai extension is eye catching for those involved in the artificial intelligence industry and potential customers.
Many people will automatically associate the .co ccTLD of Columbia with “company” as opposed to the country. Bear in mind the growing number of extensions and wealth of choices companies now have. Something as simple as .co is perfect for companies! it does what it says on the tin.
The ccTLD for Montenegro has obvious attractions for those with personal websites who may want to incorporate their own name into a domain registration. As the use of personal websites continues to grow so we can expect .me registrations to follow suit.
When the .tv ccTLD was released there was massive interest because by putting this extension on your domain name you receive automatic identity, you are in some way involved in television. The fact that it is the extension for the small island of Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean is often overlooked.
There is a growing trend for use of the .ws ccTLD. This is the unique country code for Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa). Many believe that it is a useful abbreviation for website and therefore it can be used with any domain name.
Brexit and localised Domains
As we touched on above, the parting of the ways of the European Union and the UK is well underway. The 29th March 2019 is “D-Day” . It is when the UK will cease to be part of the European Union and will go it alone.
Many experts believe that we will see a significant switch towards .eu domain names. If UK companies seek to protect their trade relations this is a high possibility. Even though the use of a .eu ccTLD does not necessarily mean the company is based in the European Union it does indicate a presence in some shape of form. This is important because only those persons, companies and organisations based in European Union or the European Economic Area can legally acquire .eu domain names.
It will be interesting to see whether the European Union is able to monitor growing interest in .eu websites.
The vast majority of ccTLDs above are undoubtedly popular, but there are some interesting entries due to fairly unique situations. Who’d have thought that .tk would be one of the more popular ccTLDs? Maybe the .tv was a fairly obvious popular choice on our list. However, many people still do not know that it is an official country code.
There is a growing trend towards more focused ccTLDs and TLDs. In the past, companies may have felt the need to protect themselves across the whole range of TLDs. No doubt there will be some more interesting additions in the future.