Domain name trends in 2023

25 January 2024

The start of a new year is the perfect time for lists: the best book, most moving movie, most unforgettable concert of the year, etc. The media can't get enough of these lists.

The one thing we didn't find was a list of domain names. Fortunately, in 2023 we conducted our own monthly study of newly registered .be-domain names to see which terms are the most popular. The results yielded some surprising trends and conclusions.

The what?? The fofstudio!

Every year a number of terms invariably appear in the top 50 every month. ‘Group’ features no less than six times in the monthly top 5. Only ‘studio’ does better and the only time of the past year it did not feature in the top 5 was in February (it came eleventh).

‘Studio’ is very popular in the craziest compounds. The lower regions of our ranking show this. We can imagine what an AI-studio might be, but what on earth might an akisstudio, akstudio, amstudio or a fofstudio be. For now the website does not provide any answers.

Growing popularity of 'studio' since 2017.

Immo’, which only lost its pole position once from 2018 to 2022, seems to have lost its crown once and for all. In 2023, ‘Immo’ only featured in the monthly top 5 on three occasions. The high mortgage rates and the slow real estate market probably have something to do with this.

Asbestos and solar power in Flanders

The fact that 2023 was not the best year to buy a property is also apparent from other terms that did particularly well. We preferred to invest in our existing homes than to buy a new one. Real estate brokers did not have the best year but another professional category did do very well.

2023 might as well be called the year of solar energy and blockages. In the spring we all climbed onto our roofs to get rid of those Eternit panels (remember the asbestos certificate). The asbestos certificate became a legal requirement in November 2022. In January 2023 the term 'asbestattest' appeared out of nowhere on the 14th position. ‘Asbest’ was at no. 24 then, in February it climbed to no. 7 and then quietly disappeared along with all the hoo-ha about the asbestos certificate.

2023 might as well be called the year of solar power and blockages.

Life can be hard without a roof over your head. As soon as the demolition works are over, ‘construct’ appears in the .be-domain names. In the spring it wasn't hugely popular, but in July it pops up at no. 4. And in that same month, ‘dakwerken’ (roof works) is quite noticeable at no. 1.

We didn't only clamber onto our roofs to get rid of asbestos in 2023. Terms such as ‘energy’ (no. 3 in June), ‘solar’ (no. 9 in May) and ‘energie’ (no. 15 in February) were mainstays in the .be-domain names registered in 2023. Solar panel subsidies were completely abolished as of 1 January 2024 and were halved in 2023. We'll let you know next year if Belgians have invested in solar panels this year or prefer to be thrifty.

Debouchage, avec accent, mais sans e

An entirely different narrative in the French-speaking part of Belgium unfortunately. No investments in green energy, but misery and blockages. That is, if the domain names are anything to go by.

What other conclusion can we indeed draw from the steep rise of drain unblockers and plumbers? Where ‘debouchage’ and ‘débouchage’ were at no. 17 and no. 52 respectively in April, they now proudly find themselves at nos. 1 and 2. In August they changed position: ‘debouchage’ is at no. 2.

Alert readers will indeed have asked themselves whether the first e shouldn't be written with an acute accent (accent aigu)? Well, yes it does, but registrants in August didn't really care: ‘dbouchage’ is at no. 1. And if you read it out loud, it sounds correct.

The sudden succes of 'debouchage' and 'plombier' in late 2023.

Drain unblockers and plumbers had other things on their mind, not spelling. In September they repeated their success story with ‘plombier’ at no. 1 and ‘plombiers’ at no. 6. It was the only month they featured in our top 50. The result of their hard work deserves a reward; no. 1 in October: ‘clean’.

Explanation please

Many trends in the domain name world can be explained by taking a look at current affairs.

We already mentioned real estate prices, the asbestos certificate and premiums for solar panels. In October the price of gold hit a record high. The war between Israel and Palestine made many people revert to this safe investment. The domain name world responded immediately: out of nowhere, ‘goud’ (gold) en ‘inkoop’ (buy) broke into the top 10 of most chosen terms in newly registered .be-domain names.

But sometimes we don't have an explanation either.

In March, ‘Nissan’, ‘dealer’ and ‘car’ suddenly appeared. You can't really ignore the connection between these terms. But why exactly they were so popular in March and why Nissan is better than other car makes… No idea.

The most noticeable phenomenon was in August 2023 when abbreviations such as ‘bqb’, ‘btb’, ‘bwb’, ‘bnb’, ‘bzb’ flooded the top fifty. We did some digging:

  • Bqb is the Belgian quiz association
  • Btb is the Belgian transport labourers' association
  • Bwb stands for Belgian Blue beef
  • Bzb is the Belgian professional association for self-employed agents in banking and insurance
  • Bnb stands for bed and breakfast of course. But the terms above lead us to believe they could equally refer to the Belgian association of nudists. Or the Belgian association of nature lovers.

Why all these associations happened to register a domain name in August and opted for an abbreviation instead of the full name, will forever remain a mystery.

Belgium rules

Anything Belgian always does exceptionally well in terms of .be-domain names.

Bruxelles’ and ‘antwerpen’ swapped positions all year and are consistently popular in terms of .be-domain names. This also applies – to a slightly less extent – to ‘liege’, ‘gent’ and of course ‘belgium’ itself. All year, a chauvinistic wave seemed to be sweeping through the world of domain names. Usually we only observe this during major sporting events such as a World Cup or Olympics.

The fact that Belgians enjoy their food is also reflected in the most popular domain names of 2023. Terms such as ‘food’, ‘pizza’, ‘bar’, ‘restaurant’ do very well every month. The same applies to ‘fun’, ‘beauty’, ‘event’, ‘art’, etc.

Let it be clear that Belgians, once they have taken care of their home - preferably with premiums and subsidies and only if it is legally required - like to enjoy the good life.

With this article, we support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.