70 Percent of All Web Domains Fail to Be Renewed One Year after Purchase

It is more common than people might expect to devise a seemingly innovative idea for a new website, business, blog, marketing platform or eCommerce channel, make a rash purchase of a domain to support it and subsequently let the platform lapse just months later.

In fact, a staggering 70% of all web domains fail to be renewed after one year, according to new research into registration patterns across the most popular top-level domains (TLDs).

Upon analyzing a data sample, which covered one million domains registered across the eight leading TLDs, web hosting firm WhoIsHostingThis discovered that a mere 30% of all web domains are renewed after 12 months. This means that the true extent of the churn rate for domains across TLDs is 70%, which means that a massive 702,133 of the one million domains were dropped.

Of those domains which are not renewed, 41% are left to expire, while 29% go on to be snapped up and registered by other users to potentially benefit and profit from.

While it is difficult to ascertain whether domains fall by the wayside due to comparatively high second year hosting costs or people simply struggle to follow through with their ideas after an impulsive, speculative or optimistic registration, the data clearly shows that fewer than one in three domains are renewed and survive their first anniversary.

Richard Kershaw, at WhoIsHostingThis.com, said: “We wanted to delve deep and find out more about domain registration behavior. This is why we commissioned our study of one million domains. It turns out the churn rate for domains is much, much higher than I think many would expect.”

The research

WhoIsHostingThis.com was determined to understand more about user behavior around domain registrations, including how many are renewed, how many are re-registered and how many are left to expire and go back on sale.

To explore these avenues and uncover other trends, the business contacted Whois XML API, the leading domain Whois, DNS, IP and cyber threat intelligence data provider to Fortune 500 companies right through to government agencies and cybercrime units.

The sample data

Whois XML API diligently collected significant data on one million domains registered on the most popular eight TLDs by the number of domain registrations. All are gTLDs (generic) apart from the ccTLD .CN (People’s Republic of China).

The randomly selected sample comprised 796,501 .COM domains, 84,153 .NET domains, 53,691 .TOP domains, 35,844 .ORG domains, 17,655 .INFO domains, 7,111 .CN domains, 3,840 .XYZ domains and 1,205 .BIZ domains.

The total number of domain names registered to all TLDs, of which there are over 1,200, is 370,954,537. Of these, 185,065,885 belong to generic TLDs and 135,333,223 to country TLDs. The USA tops the list of registered domains with a total of 97,367,153, while China comes second with 30,249,710.

Whois XML API examined the sample number of unique domain names created since 2012. This was followed up by analyzing how many such domains were registered but did not renew in the first year. It also looked at how many domains were registered by an initial user who failed to commit and renew.

The findings

Of the one million domains making up the sample, only 29.79% were kept by registrants. 70.21% of domains were not renewed, either being left to expire (41.22%) or re-registered by others (28.99%).

Renewal rates varied significantly by TLD.

Interestingly, the TLDs that saw the highest percentage of domains kept after one year were .NET, .ORG and .INFO, with renewal rates of 46.31%, 44.24% and 34.56% respectively.

On the other hand, the TLDs with the lowest percentage of renewals were .TOP, .BIZ, and .CN, with rates of 22.22%, 16.60% and 1.72%.

The average churn rate for domains is over 70%

Registrants chose not to keep a huge 702,133 of the one million domains analyzed, equating to a high volume churn rate of 70.21%.

Looking at the TLDs with the highest churn rates, these were .CN (98.28%), .BIZ (83.40%) and .TOP (77.78%).

And those with the lowest churn rates are .INFO (65.44%), .ORG (55.76%) and .NET (53.69%).

The churn rate for .CN domains is over 98%

The churn rate for .CN domains is much much higher than the average, reaching an extremely high 98.28%.

Of those not kept, only 1.10% were re-registered by someone else. Just 1.72% of .CN domains were renewed.

Over two in five domains are left to expire each year

41.22% of the domains were abandoned altogether, with registrants allowing them to expire and become available to others.

The TLDs with the highest percentage of dropped domains were .CN with a huge 97.19%, .XYZ with 58.33% and .BIZ with 50.04%.

Those with the lowest portion of domains left to expire were .COM with 43.12%, .ORG with 28.85%, and .NET with 19.28%.

28.99% of domains are re-registered by other users

28.99% of the domains in the sample were not renewed and instead re-registered by another user.

.NET (34.41%), .TOP (33.75%), and .BIZ (33.36%) were the TLDs with the highest re-registration rates.

.XYZ (16.82%), .INFO (15.54%), and .CN (1.10%) saw the lowest re-registration rates.

.COM domain registrations

The .COM TLD is, not surprisingly, the most used TLD. Of the domains analyzed, 28.09% were kept and 71.91% dropped. Of those dropped, 28.79% were re-registered by other users, while the biggest percentage, 43.12%, were left to languish.

The methodology

To produce this report, WhoIsHostingThis.com commissioned Whois XML API to collect a sample of one million domains across eight TLDs by number of domain registrations per year.

The data was gathered in October 2019 for the sole purpose of preparing the report.

No personal information, for the purposes of GDPR, was processed for the study.

Alex Ronquillo, from WhoIS XML API, concluded: “Significant activity we've observed recently is likely due to trends in global entrepreneurship, but our clients are much more creative in analysis. I've learned that there is much more at play here, especially with new international privacy laws along with the prevalence of phishing and brand impersonation attacks.

“We believe that if the world's most critical researchers are unable to back their theories with reliable data, we all fail to extract the narratives required to produce a safer, smarter future."

STUDY: Which Domains Get Kept & Which Get Dropped? [New Data on .COM vs Everything Else]
Illustration: Freepik

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