Another domain name – or even a different business name – preferable to a different extension

Earlier this year, the total number of domain names in the Netherlands passed the nine million mark. Of those, an impressive 5.8 million are .nl names. Not many countries have more registrations, and the ones that do are places with much bigger populations. So Dutch people are increasingly likely to find that, within their national domain, the name they want is taken.

Most people aren't put off when their first choice isn't available

Several studies have found that registrants usually stick with .nl if the name they want is taken. The large number of registered domain names hides the fact that the market is much more dynamic than people often think. The Netherlands doesn't have a static body of domain names: the stock is changing all the time. Every year, about 1.2 million new domain names are registered, while nearly a million others are cancelled. As a result, there's a 'back catalogue' of about five million names that used to be registered, but are now available again. Plus countless possibilities that no one has gone for yet.

80 per cent get the domain name they want

With so many options, 80 per cent of all new businesses are able to get their first-choice domain name, despite the market growth. That's one of the findings to come out of a recent study of start-ups conducted on our website. Earlier research had shown a similar picture. We also found that problems finding a registrar or getting a domain name registered are rare.

Fewer than 20 per cent consider an alternative extension

Ready availability of good domain names also explains why almost no one thinks of using an alternative extension if their first-choice domain name isn't available, or if there's another issue. The preferred option is nearly always to think of another domain name, even if that means going for a different trading name or company name to match. Fewer than 20 per cent of people whose first choice is taken consider alternative extensions. Most would-be registrants have apparently decided on an extension before they start looking up names. For Dutch businesses, only two extensions are really in the frame: .com, and .nl. More than 93 per cent of Dutch websites use one or the other. The thousand-plus other extensions available around the globe share the remaining 7 per cent.

Playful domain names popular with start-ups

Over the years, both taste in domain names and the way they are used have changed considerably. And, because people now have different priorities, suitable domain names are still easy to find. Ten years ago, everyone wanted something short and easy to type. But these days people are happy with a longer name, if it stands out in a list of search results. So playful domain names are now very popular, especially with start-ups. Meaning that will get the nod ahead of (''), for example.

Plenty more room for growth

The bottom line: it looks as if there's plenty more room for growth in the domain name market. What's more, the economic outlook – always a key driver of demand for domain names – currently looks good. We're therefore very confident about prospects for 2018.


  • Tuesday 24 September 2019

    SIDN Labs

    Experimenting with new internet infrastructures: SCION


    SIDN Labs connected to SCIONLab

    Read more
  • Thursday 31 May 2018

    SIDN Labs

    New stats site!


    Insight into the use of .nl

    Read more
  • Monday 14 January 2019


    STARTTLS and DANE for outgoing mail mandatory for government organisations


    DANE validation added to 'use-or-explain' list

    Read more


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