Just how big is the internet? No one really knows, in large part because there is no fixed way to count. However, there are various estimates used to gauge the size of the World Wide Web, such as the blunt method of the number of live websites or the more analytical approach of tracking the number of web searches. And somewhere close to the method of live websites is to look at the number of domain level registrations.
By the end of March 2016, there were about 326.4 million registered top level domains (TLDs) —including global ones such as .com and .net or country code-based, like .uk or .ca — around the world, according to a report by Verisign. Of these, about 12 million domain names were added to the internet during the January-March period, an increase of 3.8 percent over the last quarter of 2015, the report titled “Domain Name Industry Brief,” added. Compared to the same three-month period in 2015, the increase was of 11 percent, or 32.4 million domain names.
About 44 percent of all TLDs on the internet are .com or .net, with .com TLDs alone counting for almost 39 percent. Together, these two TLDs increased by 7.1 percent compared with the first quarter last year, while country-code TLDs grew at 8.2 percent in the same period.
The country-code TLD with the highest number of registered domains is Tokelau, a group of atolls in the southern Pacific Ocean midway between Samoa and Hawaii. Administered by New Zealand, the region uses the .tk domain and provides free country-code TLDs to both businesses and individuals, while generating revenue from monetizing expired domain names — by selling the residual traffic to the domain to advertising networks.
China, Germany, the United Kingdom and Russia were the next four biggest country-code TLDs.
Newly released global TLDs, such as .xyz, .club, .site and .science, totaled 16.1million registrations, or 4.9 percent of all domains, as on March 31, with .xyz leading the list.
One TLD does not necessarily correspond to only one website. A service like tumblr, for instance, has only one TLD, since the websites of all its users end in the same domain, i.e., tumblr.com, but it hosts hundreds of thousands of websites. According to Internet Live Stats, the total number of websites as of the writing of this article — the number is constantly changing, and it doesn’t always go up — was over 1.05 billion.