A record number of new .ie Irish websites were registered in 2020, according to a new report by .IE, which manages and administers Ireland’s country domain name .ie.
Over 65,000 new .ie domains were registered, a 30% increase on 2019.
Peaks and troughs in new .ie registrations generally followed the Government’s restrictions on travel and business.
The highest peak occurred in May, when 7,003 new .ie domains were registered, the highest number ever registered in a single month.
This occurred approximately six weeks after the closure of non-essential retail. This peak began to drop off from June, as restrictions eased, but moved up sharply in October, peaking again in November corresponding to the announcement of the second national lockdown.
David Curtin, chief executive of .IE, said that the increase demonstrates a “mass mobilisation of digital in every part of the economy and society” in response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Businesses migrated online, many for the first time, in direct response to the lockdowns,” he said.
“They realised that having an online presence, and in many cases e-commerce capabilities, would at the very least minimise the damage of reduced or non-existent footfall,” he said.
Mr Curtin said that some businesses have fully embraced digital over the past few months, by using multiple platforms to communicate and sell to their customers.
“For example, some restaurants are using their own websites to advertise special offers but redirect customers to third-party apps and platforms for food ordering. Delivery is then outsourced.
“Many who have pivoted their business model in this way have reaped the rewards and stayed afloat, even thrived, in an intensely challenging period,” he said.
Mr Curtin said that the Central Bank recognises new .ie registrations as a forward indicator of economic health.
He said it is clear that Irish businesses and services were resilient and adaptable in 2020.
For the first time ever, the report shows that every county in Ireland recorded an increase in .ie domain registrations last year.
Counties Clare, Monaghan, Limerick, and Tipperary recorded increases in .ie domain registrations in every month of 2020, compared to 2019.
“The nationwide increase in new .ie domain registrations is very encouraging,” said Mr Curtin.
“It suggests that businesses and public services, regardless of county or whether they are in a city or a small town, were able to quickly and easily set up an online presence and meet local demand.”
According to the report, ‘health’ and ‘covid’ were among the most common keywords included in web addresses last year.
315 .ie domains containing the word “mask” or “facemask” were registered in 2020 compared to just 6 in 2019.
General health-related keywords, including “wellness”, “supplement”, “pharmacy”, and “fitness”, increased 92% year-on-year.
178 .ie web addresses containing the words “mental health” or “counselling” were registered in 2020, up from 87 in 2019, while 89 .ie domains containing the words “doctor” or “nurse” were registered compared to 62 in 2019.
“Many health services are now delivering their services online, for example through virtual consultations with patients and e-prescriptions sent securely to their local pharmacy,” said Mr Curtin.
“Digital has given them the tools they need to adapt to a socially distanced Covid-19 economy and provide continuity of care to local patients, in the comfort and safety of their own familiar environment,” he added.