Nominet, the Oxford-headquartered tech company responsible for the ” .UK” domain, has revealed new trends on how businesses across the country have used the internet during lockdown.
Categorising new registrations by the words appearing in domain names indicated that registrations related to delivery services soared by 78 per cent compared to pre-lockdown – reflecting many businesses quickly adapting their business model to survive a rapidly changing consumer landscape
As the wider economic impact hit, for the first time in eight years April saw record numbers of newly registered domains (147,706), as well as a 12 per cent (15,946) increase compared to registrations over the previous month in March. Numbers of new registrations have continued to rise through May and June.
Fashion, exercise and food and drink related domains saw some of the biggest increases in website registrations.
There has also been a 20 per cent increase in registrations by individuals suggesting an enterprising response to COVID-19 as people took their hobbies online.
Small businesses pivoted to selling their products and services online as premises closed. Indeed, daily registrations of domains that highlight they are “online”, “virtual” or “live” more than doubled over this period.
Domains related to learning have been steadily rising since lockdown as children were home-schooled. This peaked in early May when the government announced that schools would soon be opening their doors to some children again, but remains 20 per cent higher than levels before lockdown.
Registrations of websites with traditional-business related terms (like ‘consultancy’ and ‘limited’) fell by 60 per cent from February to March due to economic uncertainty, however these had returned to normal levels by the end of May.
Registrations of construction related websites fell by 25 per cent, suggesting a slowdown in new business ventures as building work and the supplies required slowed. In addition to this, as people embraced DIY throughout lockdown, the number of handyman and decorator related domains fell by 14 per cent.
PPE related websites unsurprisingly increased just after the Government announced the need for more supplies and slowed towards the end of May.
Nominet has also stepped up checks in new registrations to mitigate against fraudulent activity during the pandemic. This includes adding new search terms into checks on new registrations to catch those with malintent.
To date Nominet has placed 3,274 domains related to COVID-19 on hold at the point of registration pending further registrant checks. Over 1,200 of these domains have now passed due diligence and are now registered in the namespace. Seven domains have been suspended from criminal activity related to COVID-19.
Eleanor Bradley, MD Registry & Public Benefit, at Nominet said: “In the face of adversity, it has been really encouraging to see such an enterprising spirit when looking at trends in new domain registrations, despite so many unknowns. The spikes we’ve seen across a variety of sectors is testament to people pivoting their businesses and interests to operate virtually during lockdown, and will have provided comfort to many business owners and their customers as well as helping support the economy.
“But the safety and security of everyone catapulted into a new world online is also something we take very seriously, and as guardian of the namespace we’ve been keeping a very keen eye on ‘covid’ and ‘coronavirus’ related domains too. Adding new search terms into our domain registration checks to quickly suspend any we think may be used for fraudulent purposes has been key in preventing criminals taking advantage of people in the wake of the pandemic as they search for information and products online from legitimate sources. Like many businesses that have had to adjust to a new way of working, we have had to as well, to ensure we keep both businesses and individuals safe online, our number one priority.”