COVID Bump Sees .AT Hit 1.4 Million Registrations

The Austrian ccTLD hit a new milestone in September, reaching 1.4 million registrations according to the .at registry nic.at, with just over one million (1,023,492 as of 13 September) or 73.9% registered to Austrian registrants.

The 1.4 millionth registration – physio-ruttinger.at – was registered to an Austrian self-employed physiotherapist who already has his own website including a matching .at domain. The physiotherapist wants to be found even better on the Internet in the future and has therefore decided on a multi-domain strategy.

“I want to better promote my homepage and be found online as easily as possible,” said Mr. Ruttinger in a statement from nic.at. “Because people search differently online and also make linguistic differences such as ‘physio’ and ‘physiotherapist’, I have registered all options. I want potential customers to get to their goal by all means.”

Thanks to a simple forwarding function, the .at domains physio-ruttinger.at, physiotherapieruttinger.at and physioruttinger.at, all newly registered by Mr. Ruttinger, lead to the existing homepage physiotherapie-ruttinger.at. A diverse domain strategy is part of successful marketing and in any case pays off from a search engine (SEO) point of view.

“My company is based in Upper Austria, in other words Austria. And .at stands for Austria! Thus, no other Top-Level Domain came into question for me.”

As well as the 73.9% of all .at domain names being registered to Austrians, 15.4% are registered to Germans, while around 9% of all registrants are located in non-German speaking countries.

As with many country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), .at total registration numbers grew steadily until a plateauing in recent years. In the case of .at, registrations slowed around 2012 and saw little growth for several years until the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world. As a result of the pandemic it is widely believed many businesses that weren’t online took the plunge and went online, while existing businesses came up with new idea that often used new domain names.

“Due to Corona, our lives have changed and many activities have shifted to the internet,” said Richard Wein, nic.at CEO. “This is also reflected in the number of .at domain registrations. Numerous companies have recognized the importance of an online presence; webshops, interactive contact forms and online appointments have become must-haves in the ongoing progress of digitalisation.”

That a record level of 1.4 million .at domains would be reached in September 2021 was predicted in the first half of the year by Alexander Mayrhofer, Head of nic.at’s research and development.

“The enormous growth in 2020 could be exceeded once again from January to August 2021,” said Mayrhofer. “With an average of over 13,000 newly registered domains per month, the number of registrations is significantly higher than those from previous years.”

nic.at is also particularly pleased that the retention rate of .at domains has remained high for years, at over 91 %.

“The additional domains are actually being used, rather than being deleted the following year,” Mayrhofer continued. “However, the forecast for 2022 is particularly difficult for us. It is clear that the severity of the COVID measures has a very direct impact on the number of new registrations. This means that we would have to predict the further course of the pandemic in Austria in order to get precise registration figures.”

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