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From domain name to website
On its own, a domain name doesn't amount to much. It's simply an address for something else. A domain name becomes significant when you use it for a website, e-mail or another application. So, here at SIDN, we don't look exclusively at how many domain names are being registered. We also look at whether and how they're being used. Active use is what it's all about. Because domain names that aren't used tend to get cancelled before very long.
Why some domain names aren't used
There are two main reasons for a domain name not being used. A lot of people register a name, but then don't get round to building the website or setting up the e-mail as originally planned. They simply never get as far as putting their domain name to use. A little like me and the gym membership I buy every winter.
Economic dip leads to digital vacancy
The second reason for non-use is business-related. Domain names are often closely linked to enterprises, projects and other forms of economic activity. When the economy's in a lull, projects get postponed, businesses go under, and domain names fall out of use and ultimately get cancelled. That's what happened in the period around 2012, when we saw a sharp rise in cancellations. The domain name market is like a barometer of the economic climate.
Latest numbers are good news for .nl and the digital economy
We're therefore encouraged to see how quickly domain names are now being put to use. At the same time, cancellation rates have been falling, the .nl zone has been growing faster than expected and business registrations are up. All the signs are that the economy is flourishing, and so is .nl.
The WordPress revolution
However, the economic upturn isn't the only factor. We've also seen WordPress establish itself as the CMS standard in the Netherlands. The number of WordPress sites increased by more than 50 per cent in the space of two years. As more and more people have become familiar with WordPress, the threshold to building a website has got lower and lower. Another factor is the sales channel. Hosting service providers and registrars increasingly recognise that there isn't much money to be made from selling domain names that aren't actually used. Forward-looking professionals recognise the importance of a domain name as an enabling product.