The state of the web in 2023

Welcome to the Fasthosts ‘state of the web’ report. In this 2023 edition we’ll be taking a (virtual) trip around the world to evaluate the current state of the domain market in the latter half of 2022, how the industry has changed over the years, and what the future might hold.

UK internet use in 2022

  • There were 66.11 million internet users in the UK in 2022*
    • Internet users in the UK increased by 224 thousand (+0.3%) between 2022 and 2023*
  • That's around 97.8% of the UK population*
  • Almost all adults aged 16 - 44 were internet users (99%)**
  • London was the region with the highest use (95%)
  • Northern Ireland was the region with the lowest use (88%)
Region 2022 (in thousands) 2014 (in thousands) % change
North East 1,896 1,760 +7%
North West 5,280 4,721 +10%
Yorkshire and the Humber 3,960 3,659 +8%
East Midlands 3,514 3,053 +15%
West Midlands 4,256 3,632 +17%
East England 4,586 4,201 +9%
London 6,768 5,678 +19%
South East 6,881 6,163 +11%
South West 4,238 3,788 +11%
Wales 2,298 2,017 +14%
Scotland 4,068 3,680 +10%
Northern Ireland 1,296 1,104 +17%

Source: **

What is a domain name?

A domain name is a unique address used to access websites on the internet. Domain names offer a human-friendly alternative to a website’s IP address, making them much easier to remember. So whilst users search for websites by name, their browsers can still find the specific web server hosting a site via its IP address.

Domain name diagram
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Number of active domains

As of Q4 2022, there were over 1.98 billion (1,971,999,420) domain names on the world wide web. Of these, around 350 million are active today.

Number of active domains per country

ngTLDs market shares
.com 159,902,632
.de 16,414,315
.net 13,170,783
.org 10,614,272
.uk 10,593,406
.cn 8,980,611
.ga 7,049,929
.nl 5,635,081
.cf 5,383,367
.ml 5,344,979


As it’s used universally, it’s no surprise that most active websites feature the .com domain. The country code which takes the top spot currently however with the most active domains is Germany with .de.

But we’ll go into that more later.

Predicted amount of active vs inactive domains

While 1.98 billion sounds like (and is) an enormous number, that doesn’t mean there are almost two billion websites out there. Of all domains on the web, about 83% of these are inactive. This leaves only around 350 million remaining active of the 1.98 BILLION out there.


Why are so many domains inactive?

Inactive domains are those that have been registered by a customer but don’t have at least two name servers associated with them. This means that the domain name will not resolve.

How many new domains/websites were created in 2022?

There are currently about 350.4 million domain names registered in the world (as of the end of Q4 2022), an increase of 0.5 million domain name registrations, or 0.1%, compared to the third quarter of 2022.

That’s almost a 2.6% increase from the end of Q4 2021, or 8.7million. This number has been growing ever since the domain name system was introduced in 1985, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.


How has domain growth changed over the years?

The amount of domains registered has been slowly increasing year-on-year by a similar amount. But, as we can see from the graph below, there was a decrease in the amount of domains registered in 2021 to buck this steady trend.

The year where the world opened back up again post-COVID, we see a drop from 366.3 million domains at the end of 2020 Q4, to 341.7 million at the end of Q4 in 2021 – a significant decrease of more than 6%.

However, after this 2021 dip we know that by the close of 2022, domain registrations have rebounded to 350.4 million. Not only have numbers returned to pre-pandemic levels, they’ve actually continued to grow.

So now we’ve taken a look at the domain name industry at a surface level, let’s take a deep dive.

What is a TLD?

In 1985, The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority released six top-level domain names. These top-level domains (TLDs) became known as domain name extensions and represent the highest level in the system hierarchy. These are:

  • .com
  • .net
  • .edu
  • .org
  • .mil
  • .gov

Amongst all top-level domain (TLD) registrations, the most popular choices are a mix of generic and country-code domains. Based on market share however, .com domains are by far the most popular, with over 161.1m domains registered, an increase of almost 5 million since Q4 2021.


New TLDs in 2022

Here’s the TLDs that reached General Availability (GA) in 2022.

New TLDs
.day .rsvp .beauty .makeup .cfd .basketball
.au .kids .hair .quest .trust .spa
.boo .cpa .skin .forum .sbs .zuerich

TLDs to look out for in 2023.

New TLDs in 2023
.bot .giving .channel .phd .mov .zip
.prof .nexus .foo .esq .dad .watches

What is a ccTLD?

A ccTLD (country-code top-level domain) represents a country code. In order to distinguish one country from another, two-letter domains were established and became associated with countries or geographical locations. If your desired .com domain name is unavailable, consider using a ccTLD like a .uk domain name instead.

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Top ccTLDs worldwide

In 2021 and leading into the start of 2022, the TLD assigned to the small island nation of Tokelau had the highest number of registered domains for all ccTLDs – with China following closely behind.

These ccTLDs can be registered for free – which may account for so many. You’ll also spot a large number of European domain extensions in the list below, showing the people here value national ccTLDs over others – the Americas, for example.



The Americas


Asia / Middle East


Top 10 ccTLDs in Europe

TLD Country 2022
1 .de Germany 16.1m
2 .uk UK 10.5m
3 .nl Netherlands 5.6m
4 .fr France 3.8m
5 .eu European
Economic Area
6 .it Italy 3.1m
7 .ch Switzerland 2.4m
8 .pl Poland 2.3m
9 .be Belgium 1.6m
10 .se Sweden 1.4m

Top 10 ccTLDs in The Americas

TLD Country 2022
1 .br Brazil 4.3m
2 .co Colombia 4.3m
3 .ca Canada 3.1m
4 .us USA 1.8m
5 .mx Mexico 992,386
6 .cl Chile 552,459
7 .ar Argentina 518,886
8 .pe Peru 121,428
9 .uy Uruguay 84,549
10 .ec Ecuador 45,168

Top 10 ccTLDs in Africa

TLD Country 2022
1 .ga Gabon 7.04m
2 .cf Central African Republic 5.38m
3 ml Mali 5.34m
4 .gq Equatorial Guinea 4.30m
5 .za South Africa 1.26m
6 .ng Nigeria 133,069
7 .ma Morocco 103,012
8 .ke Kenya 83,170
9 .cm Cameroon 38,895
10 .zw Zimbabwe 44,350

Top 10 ccTLDs in Asia / Middle East

TLD Country 2022
1 .cn China 8.98m
2 .ru Russia 4.99m
3 .in India 2.66m
4 .jp Japan 1.61m
5 .ir Iran 1.16m
6 .kr South Korea 1.01m
7 .io British Indian
Ocean Territory
8 .cc Cocos
(Keeling Islands)
9 .id Indonesia 540,507
10 .vn Vietnam 480,132

Top 10 ccTLDs in Oceania

TLD Country 2022
1 .tk Tokelau 5.04m
2 .au Australia 3.25m
3 .nz New Zealand 706,264
4 .tv Tuvalu 459,384
5 .pw Palau 308,116
6 .nu Niue 241,949
7 .ws Samoa 156,944
8 .hm Heard Island and
McDonald Islands
9 .to Tonga 31,591
10 .fm Federated States
of Micronesia

ngTLDs and Geo ngTLDs

NgTLDs refer to the small percentage of domains registered which are neither general TLDs such as .com and .net, or country-code TLDs such as .uk or .de. These ngTLDs make up just 7.7% of all TLDs which equates to around 27 million domains. Broken down further, we can see that the top 10 ngTLDs represent 51.7% of the total which is illustrated in the graph above.

ngTLDs market shares
.xyz 15.7%
.online 6.9%
.top 6.4%
.icu 4.0%
.shop 3.9%
.site 3.7%
.store 2.9%
.cyou 2.9%
.club 2.9%
.live 2.3%

ngTLDs as percentage of total TLDs (as of Q2 2022)


City TLDs

There are some cities in the world that are putting themselves firmly on the digital map, and have taken their online presence to the next level with their very own cityTLD. This could be a full city name or a recognisable abbreviation.

A cityTLD gives people and businesses big and small a chance to get online with their own localised identity. To measure the “digitalness” of the cities on the list, eight performance indicators were taken into account to determine the strengths and values of cityTLDs.

City TLD 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 Trend
1 .berlin 1 1 1 1 1 1 -
2 .tokyo 2 2 3 2 2 5
3 .nyc 3 3 4 7 7 3
4 .amsterdam 4 4 2 6 9 10
5 .koeln 7 5 10 5 6 4
6 .miami 6 6 17 17 10 6
7 .hamberg 10 7 8 3 11 2
8 .london 9 8 5 8 4 11
9 .paris 8 9 7 14 18 16
10 .brussels - 10 12 13 13 14


Did you know

Some cities – like Moscow, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Barcelona – have not one, but two cityTLDs. Sometimes one of these two is reserved for government organisations, but sometimes they are available to everyone but appear in two different languages or alphabets.

Corporate TLDs

A corporate, or brand TLD, is a rather innovative type of TLD. It gives branded corporations the opportunity to use their corporate name as the top-level identifier of their website, as opposed to the traditional .com.

The DOTZON ‘Digital Company Brands Study’ is in its fifth edition, and analyses brand TLDs worldwide. The amount of corporate TLDs actually decreased from 2021 to 2022, following several years of incline.

Brand TLD 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 Trend
1 .audi 1 5 1 1 4
2 .abbott 2 2 2 3 - -
3 .dvag 3 9 9 10 8
4 .bnpparibas 4 7 4 2 5
5 .seat 5 4 2 5 2
6 .schwarz 6 - - - -
7 .leclerc 7 1 3 7 1
8 .google 8 8 6 - -
9 .neustar 9 6 8 9 0
10 .goog 10 - - - - -


Sector development and usage

The most popular website sectors can be grouped into several categories: search engines, social media platforms, online adult entertainment, ecommerce, news, sports and weather. However the websites below these in the top 20 are always changing depending on the needs and preferences of the world.

China currently leads the ranking with the highest number of monthly internet users, with more than half of its population using the Web. The number currently stands at just over 1 billion people. India is second, with a pretty impressive number as well of 658 million, but only accounting for 20% of its population.

Based on the top searched keywords in 2022, terms related to NFT and the Metaverse are highly popular. Since these industries appear to only be growing, we can expect to see this trend continue and spill over into domains.

Meta and NFTs in domains

October 28th 2021 is the date when Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his rebranding of Facebook Inc. to sit under the singular domain of The term ‘meta’ will probably spark other parts of your brain, but this is actually a key part of Zuckerberg’s rebrand.

Meta’s goal was to look beyond social networks and towards Web 3.0 – a decentralised space made up of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI) where boundaries between the off and offline worlds are blurred. The metaverse, if you will.

Without going into the background too much, the basic functionality of the metaverse lies in the blockchain. And what’s the blockchain? It’s where users can own digital goods (such as non-fungible tokens or NFTs) in the virtual world, and use cryptocurrencies to make payments.

Read More

It’s not yet known how a Web 3.0 based on the blockchain could affect the domain name industry, but it’s thought that it could have a huge impact on the way DNS works – that’s if we ever shift from a client-server model to a decentralised one.

While there are some alternatives to DNS out there already, we’re not at the stage of widespread adoption just yet.

So although there aren’t any major changes to the way we work at the moment, the concept of NFT domain names has been gaining traction over the past year or two. These can be purchased over the blockchain via smart contracts, and will be stored in your digital wallet.

With all that in mind, and given the unclear future of meta and crypto, let’s dive into the world of NFT domain names.

The highest NFT-related domain sales

NFT domains are built on smart contracts on public blockchains, such as ENS (Ethereum Name Service). This means that they are decentralised outside of the DNS, so there’s no governing organisation – such as ICANN – to help with issues such as trademark infringement, safety, or abuse of any kind. And unlike normal TLDs, domains like this don’t resolve on standard web browsers

What is an NFT?

An NFT is a digital token which can be bought and sold via a blockchain. Think of them as the internet’s answer to collectibles – an NFT could be a video clip, a GIF, an audio clip, or other types of digital media. The main characteristic of an NFT is that it must be unique and individual property which only the owner has the right to. This is where the value of NFTs comes from, as only one person can own the rights to an NFT, just like a one-of-a-kind antique can only be in the possession of one person.

The domain name sold for an incredible $15 million dollars in 2022, making it one of the largest public domain name deals ever.

Domain Price Sale date $30m 2019 $17m 2015 $15m 2022
S* $13m 2010 $12m 2008 $11m 2001 $11m 2014 $10m 2022
P*** $8.8m 2015 $8.5m 2010



.wallet controversy

There has also been significant controversy in the NFT name space with regards to the highly sought after .wallet domain name. As you can imagine, .wallet has tremendous potential in the cryptocurrency/NFT space – given a wallet’s importance in the metaverse – so with immeasurable interest in the .wallet TLD, it’s unsurprising that a legal battle has ensued.

That’s where things get a little complicated – but don’t worry, if the legal battle has caught your attention, a simple Google will tell you all you need to know about the .wallet saga. What this does show is the interest that companies have in the metaverse and NFTs, and that it isn’t going away anytime soon.

Available NFT extensions
.eth .crypto .coin .wallet .bitcoin .zil
.defi .888 .nft .x .dao

Post-Brexit and domain names

When the United Kingdom officially withdrew from the European Union on January 31st 2020, UK registrants lost their eligibility to access .eu domain names. It’s estimated that around 48,000 .eu domain names were lost in one day. To keep a .eu domain, the registrant would need to be in the UK (but in a European citizen), or a non-EU citizen with a domestic or business address within the EU.

Getting the UK online

Speaking of Brexit, despite such huge numbers of domains and websites being out there on the world wide web, there is still a vast amount of internet inequality in the UK.

Let’s explore digital exclusion in a little more detail...

  • 10 million people in the UK don’t have basic digital skills
  • 2 million people struggle to have affordable access to the internet
  • One in 20 households have no access to the internet at all

Why are people not online?

  • 11% of people are concerned for their safety online
  • 20% say access is too expensive
  • 21% say they find getting online to be too complicated
  • 21% say they’re not interested in being online
Region % limited users % extensive users
Scotland 20% 35%
Northern Ireland 24% 36%
North East 28% 29%
North West 21% 35%
Yorkshire and the Humber 16% 30%
West Midlands 18% 36%
East England 19% 38%
Wales 19% 35%
London 13% 49%
South East 18% 36%
South West 16% 38%


What will 2023 bring to the domain industry?

Over the next 12 months the domain name industry is expected to continue its steady growth trajectory, driven by several key trends. One of the most notable is the increasing demand for unique and memorable domain names, particularly as businesses and individuals seek to establish their online presence. Another trend is the growing popularity of new top-level domains (TLDs) such as .io, .online and .app, which offer greater flexibility and more specific branding opportunities.

Over the next 12 months the domain name industry is expected to continue its steady growth trajectory, driven by several key trends. One of the most notable is the increasing demand for unique and memorable domain names, particularly as businesses and individuals seek to establish their online presence. Another trend is the growing popularity of new top-level domains (TLDs) such as .io, .online and .app, which offer greater flexibility and more specific branding opportunities.

Overall the domain name industry is poised for continued growth and innovation in the coming year as the digital landscape continues to evolve.

- Rob Jackson, Domains Product Manager at Fasthosts

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