Digital transformation, in all ways, shapes and forms has experienced significant acceleration in South Africa over the last year and a half. While many SMEs have hit hard times, the power of digital has given so many people the ability to continue operations from the safety of home. 

But not only have SMEs continued their operations with more of an online focus, newcomers to the e-commerce and online space have cropped up in high numbers since March 2020. With the amount of domain registrations growing exponentially over the last year, we take a look at South Africa’s most popular top level domain choices.

Top level domains explained

But, before we get into the list, what exactly are top level domains? To many, the whole website name is the domain, but the ending of a URL (for example .com or in fact serves its own purpose. This end section is formally known as a top level domain or TLD, and is one of the most important elements of building your domain name and online presence. 

A TLD also goes by the name of a domain suffix or domain extension, and they help search engines and online browsers understand the nature of your website and business, as well as the country/ies you operate in.


South Africa’s most popular top level domains

  2. .africa
  4. .capetown
  5. .joburg
  7. .durban

Not surprisingly, the domain extension sits in number one position with around 1.3 million registrations. Classified as a country-specific top level domain, it serves to show that a website is specific to a local South African audience and tells search engines that its website content is best served to people residing in SA.

The domain extension has grown exponentially over the last year. According to the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) it grew by 73,000 registrations from March 2020 to February 2021, an increase not seen since 2015. The extension now accounts for 95% of all .za related extensions, with a boost in renewals too.

Geographic top level domains (gTLDs) are also on the rise with .capetown, .joburg and .durban coming in at fourth, fifth and seventh respectively. These TLDs now account for around 9000 registrations as people look to localise their website presence.


ZACR domain count table.


ZACR gTLD count

ZACR SLD count.

Source: ZACR Central Registry domain registration

If you’re getting your business online in South Africa, a domain is one of the best domain extensions to build your local online presence

Here’s a quick guide on how to get a domain extension:

  1. Choose your domain name
  2. Search for your domain name to ensure it is available via the WHOIS database
  3. Complete your domain name registration with the extension, and any other extensions you wish to purchase

You can even register a free domain in South Africa when you purchase it with related website products.