Which top level domains are truly popular?

A new analysis shows that you have to dig deep to remove the noise in new TLD stats.

The new top level domain leaderboards are junk. All it takes to get onto leaderboards that measure total domains in the zone is to sell your domains cheaply.

Some companies have dug into actual usage, but this is a fuzzy metric with different definitions. However, a new analysis by Dataprovider.com takes the most in-depth look I’ve seen at how much usage there actually is in TLDs.

The company compared zone file size to usage, starting with domains with a website and then with websites excluding placeholders. I’ve seen measures like this before, and I don’t think they tell us much about usage. Even when you exclude placeholders, the data isn’t for what most of us would consider a “real” website, i.e., a person or business setting up an online presence.

So Dataprovider.com took it one level deeper. It measured traffic to the domains with the top 20 largest zone files to see which domains actually get traffic. It’s a scale (not raw numbers), but this brings us closer to actual usage percentages in each TLD:

Chart shows traffic to domains in new top level domain zones. .Dev, .club and .tech have the most usage according to the chart
Measured by domains with moderate or higher traffic, .dev, .club and .tech are the most popular top level domains amongst higher-volume domains.

Of course, traffic is a fairly broad term. Domains set up for spam campaigns get lots of traffic. And plenty of real websites get meager traffic. But I think this gets us closer to actual usage. It makes sense that Google’s domains, which carry modest prices and require SSL certificates to work, are near the top (dev and app). And domains that have been sold for pennies are near the bottom.

Keep in mind these are percentages. .Dev has 319k domains compared to 688k for .club. So this analysis suggests there are more trafficked sites on .club than .dev.

I think you’d have to dig into specific examples to get a truly accurate image of usage, but this is the best analysis I’ve seen in a long time.

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