The Internet Archive is a massive (as in, more than 10 million gigabytes!) archive of the Internet. Alexa is an Amazon-owned company that provides web traffic data on the Internet. Combining these two services, I could do a quick analysis of how the World Wide Web has evolved over the past four years.
The following is a listing of the current top 20 websites in the world and the net change for each website since February 2010 in parentheses:
- Youtube.com (+2)
- Facebook.com (-1)
- Baidu.com (+4)
- Wikipedia.com (+2)
- Google.co.in (+6)
- Amazon.com (+12)
- Qq.com (+1)
- Tmall.com (new)
- Google.co.jp (+18)
- Live.com (-7)
- Taobao.com (+8)
- Sohu.com (+29)
- Vk.com new (+158)
- Instagram.com (new)
- LinkedIn (+14)
- 360.cn (new)
- Yahoo.co.jp (-9)
On the Internet, once a website has a critical mass of users, it becomes extremely difficult to beat them. The top websites are entrenched: Google (and YouTube), Facebook, Baidu, and Yahoo!
Google has overtaken Yahoo in Japan. LinkedIn, Twitter, and all sites owned by Microsoft have been losing popularity over recent years.
Tmall, Instagram, and 360.cn have become popular over the past year.
As Chinese citizens use the Internet more, Chinese sites Baidu, QQ, and Taobao (and Tmall) have been on the rise.
Amazon has established itself as THE place to shop online for English-speakers.
Personal blogs are going away as people migrate to social networking sites.
While the popular websites in America have been relatively stable, there have been big movers internationally. Of particular note are Google making headway in different countries like India and Japan, and VK.com becoming the most popular social network in Russian-speaking countries.
The most startling drop in popularity comes from MySpace. In 2010 it was the 16th most popular website on the Internet. Today it is largely irrelevant.
As the internet becomes more pervasive outside of America, non-English websites are beginning to rival English sites in popularity. All of the most popular websites make use of social networking to some extent, and social networks are now what define the World Wide Web. More people are surfing the internet from mobile devices.