The internet: we all use it.
Okay, technically speaking, not every single person on Earth uses the internet.
But a lot of people do—I’ll gets to how many in this list, don’t worry—and if you’re reading this, YOU certainly do.
But don’t you wonder about how “big” the internet is?
Just how many people are actually connected to it? HOW are they connected to it? Are the most popular sites the ones you think they are, or something else?
These questions and more will get answered in this article. I made sure to dig up some of the best stats around, and even I was surprised by some of the stuff I found.
So are you ready?
Let’s get started with this:
Item 1: 6 of the Top 10 Most Popular Sites are not in English.
I said it in the intro—ever wondered if the sites you visit the most are also the most popular sites around the world?
I mean, most of us would guess that Google is one of the most popular sites…but is it really?
Our source is Alexa—an Amazon subsidiary that is the go-to resource for just about everyone who wants to see the popularity of websites.
What are we waiting for?
Here’s the top 10:
Unsurprisingly, Google is the most popular site in the world. It gets an average of 12 minutes a day per person, which is among the highest of the list, nearly 15 page views per visitor, and over 2 million sites linking to it.
Then there’s YouTube. Don’t forget—YouTube is owned by Google. It’s got another huge amount of sites linking to it, and visitors on average spend 11 minutes a day on it.
After that, Chinese sites take spots 3-5 and 7-9.
Facebook has managed to stay in spot 6, and actually has the highest amount of sites linking to it, at over 4 million.
The only other site that comes close is Twitter, with over 3 million sites linking to it (Twitter is in spot 33, so you’ll have to check out Alexa’s ranking yourself to see it).
Facebook also has by far the highest “daily time” average per visitor, at over 18 minutes.
And of course, rounding out the top 10…is Wikipedia! I love that place.
Now, some of those numbers might sound small.
“You mean to tell me that the most popular sites get a few minutes per visitor per day? It’s got to be way more than that.”
Well, first, remember those are averages.
Second, those are averages spread over BILLIONS of visitors all over the world.
In fact, let’s take a look at that second part—the scale of internet users:
Item 2: Half of the world’s population still does not have access to the internet!
This stat’s a bit complicated…because I’m using more than one. But I’ll start with a stat on the countries with the most internet users.
These numbers are a tad outdated—coming from 2016—but the source is super reliable, and that makes it worth it for a ballpark:
Our World in Data is a nonprofit publication that tries to make reliable statistics available to all—it’s primarily a project by researchers at the University of Oxford. Good enough for you?
Anyway, here’s the chart:
It’s not so surprising that China and India have the most—each country has over a billion people, after all.
And if you go down the list, you basically get the most populated countries in the world, though not in order.
China, India, and the U.S. are the 3 most populated countries in the world and also have the largest internet populations. But Indonesia is the 4th most populated country and the 9th largest online population (in 2016).
Our World in Data puts the number of online users at over 3.4 billion in 2016. But I’m actually going to cheat a bit and use another source:
The World Bank says over 49% of the world’s population was using the internet in 2017, which would mean 3.6 billion people.
And Internet Live Stats says there are 4.3 billion people online TODAY. It’s a little less reputable than the other two sources, but still.
There’s no one true stat, clearly. But I think it’s safe to say there are at least 3.6 billion people online today, and probably more!
Item 3: We’ve gone from only a few secure servers per million people to over 6,000 in less than a decade.
I like this stat for three main reasons:
First, it’s not just measuring an increase in growth, but growth per capita—in other words, showing that the flat numbers have done more than enough to keep up with population.
Second, it’s not just growth and per capita growth, but also reflects an increase in quality.
Instead of just an increase in internet servers, it’s an increase in secure ones—showing how the internet’s infrastructure is getting better!
Third, the source is highly reputable. This one is brought to us by the World Bank.
So what am I waiting for? Here’s the chart:
That may not seem like a lot of secure servers between such large amounts of people, but the increase has been absolutely massive.
In 2010, when the World Bank started recording data on this, there were an estimated 187 secure internet servers per million people.
By 2015, there were 573, a big increase, and by 2016 there were 1,267.
So the amount increased nine-fold in 6 years and doubled in 2 years.
And by the end of 2018?
The count is 6,169 secure servers per million people.
I agree, more would be better, but this is a very optimistic bit of info!
Item 4: Chrome is easily the most popular internet browser.
I remember a few years ago when Chrome was NOT the most popular browser. What happened?
Is it not still strongly challenged?
Uh…let’s see the numbers.
This is brought to us by Statista:
As you can see, the first two largest browsers by global market share are versions of Chrome—an Android version and the regular desktop version.
Put together, those first two options alone have a 51% global market share, and that’s not even including the older versions in use.
Taking into account the other, older versions of Chrome, we end up with about 60%.
In contrast, all the leading versions of Safari put together to have a global market share of less than 15%.
What this means is this: not only does Chrome have 60% of the market, but the next largest competitor isn’t even close to that size.
Item 5: Taiwan has the fastest internet…and most other countries are not even CLOSE.
Are you living in a country with one of the fastest internet speeds?
This is probably one of the best researched and most thorough lists of country’s average internet speeds.
It’s highly detailed and covered a bunch of things, but the most interesting is the average speeds of each country.
This is mainly presented by Cable, a British data analysis firm, but the work was done with help from M-Lab, which itself is led by Google and Princeton researchers, among others.
Needless to say, it’s one of the best stats on this list.
Have a look (the scale at the bottom is of average download speed, in mbps, by the way):
So there you go. I highly encourage you to check out the original map by Cable, which is interactive and will let you view the specific details per-country.
But anyway, according to the report, these are the 5 countries with the fastest internet on average:
- Taiwan; 85.02 mbps download speed
- Singapore; 70.86 mbps download speed
- Jersey (a British Crown dependency); 67.46 mbps download speed
- Sweden; 55.18 mbps download speed
- Denmark; 49.19 mbps download speed
This only scratches the surface of what the report contains, but it’s the first priority for most people (including me).
Most countries are in the range of 0-30mbps, on average. Even the gaps between the top 5 are enormous!
But that’s okay. Let’s keep our hopes up:
Item 6: More than half of the World Population still does not use Social Media.
I know, can you believe it?
Before you question my consistency:
Yes, I earlier did say there were 3.6ish billion online users. And this says there are 3.7 billion social media users, meaning the number of online users has got to be bigger.
True—as I said, there’s no one true stat for this stuff.
But even so, this still means more than half of the world’s population does NOT use social media.
This insane number is brought to us by Hootsuite, in collaboration with We Are Social.
And that’s not the only figure here. Have a look:
So aside from the fact that 3.7 billion people ACTIVELY use social media worldwide, that number is about 48% of the total population.
Not internet population, mind you—the internet population is in the 4 billion range, meaning the VAST majority of internet users globally are on social media.
What’s also interesting is that nearly all of those active social media users are at least using their phone (note, this does not mean they are only using their phone).
Those numbers are crazy, and really go to show how much of the modern internet is characterized by social media.
It’s not just a global phenomenon. Here’s what that looks like in the United States:
Item 7: Most social media sites in the U.S. haven’t grown in popularity since 2018.
This is from a highly reputable source—Pew Research Center:
In early 2019, 69% of adults were using Facebook. That’s a lot—it means a strong majority of American internet users are on Facebook, and even more on YouTube.
But in many ways, this isn’t so different from social media’s share of the internet globally. Here’s where the study gets interesting:
It’s highlighting the change from 2018.
And in the case of the United States, there is BARELY any change in the popularity of different social media sites. In fact, several sites decreased in popularity.
The only real exceptions were LinkedIn and Instagram.
But you know what shows no sign of becoming less popular?
Item 8: Netflix and YouTube make up over a QUARTER of global internet traffic.
Before you accuse me of making up crazy numbers, let me clarify:
This isn’t a measurement of traffic in terms of unique users. This is an assessment of traffic in terms of bandwidth.
Check it out:
Yep. Netflix ALONE is responsible for about 15% of global traffic because it uses so much bandwidth.
YouTube itself is more than 11%, meaning together they’re just over 26% of global traffic.
Netflix, of course, has a smaller number of users compared to many social media sites and YouTube (even if it’s the biggest streaming company).
But its users are always using it, and using it means just watching lots of high-quality video content.
In contrast, YouTube has WAY more users (as we’ve shown in those social media stats) but a smaller global share because of how intensively those users use it (and the specs of the content on YouTube).
It’s not universal across regions, though:
In the Americas, Netflix is the biggest hoarder of traffic, but YouTube is the 5th largest.
In Europe and the Middle East, YouTube is the largest and Netflix is the second largest.
And in the Asian Pacific region, regular HTTP media streams are first, followed by Facebook and THEN Netflix in 3rd.
And the BIG total, worldwide?
Almost 58% of downstream traffic on the internet is video.
Yep. A majority of internet traffic is video.
Item 9: In 2018, people were more interested in Celebrity deaths than any other thing..
To be fair, a lot of celebrities did die in 2018. So it’s not just that everyone has a morbid interest in the topic–they were prompted to by news events.
We can tell this by how popular the search terms for celebrities spiked massively after their deaths, becoming more popular than other search terms.
What’s a better source for this than Google itself? Anyone can view these lists, and more, on Google Trends.
Anyway, without further ado:
A point worth clarifying before we really jump in:
This is NOT a measurement of the most-searched terms. Of course, these terms were all searched a lot, that’s for sure—but these lists are populated based on Google popularity.
In other words, these search terms had the highest spike in the given year compared to the year before.
In this case, for example the World Cup had the biggest increase in popularity in 2018 compared to 2017—more than any other term.
So it makes sense, then, that the most popular terms were significant events:
The World Cup, of course, and a lot of celebrity deaths. In fact, 7 out of the top 10 are celebrity deaths.
Interesting stuff, that’s for sure.
Now, if you’re a little disappointed by this metric, I’ve got a surprise for you to make it up:
This list by Ahrefs details the top 100 most searched keywords in the United States.
Ahrefs is one of the best and most reputable search engine optimization platforms around, and this list is pulled from its MASSIVE database, containing over 9.9 billion keywords.
I’d say we’ve covered some of the biggest types of internet statistics so far, now.
I’ll give you one more bonus stat and then send you on your way:
Bonus: E-commerce buyers are expected to grow at 7% globally in 2020.
In all honesty, any list of statistics on the internet wouldn’t be complete without some mention of e-commerce.
But here’s the thing:
I already wrote a whole article on e-commerce statistics!
I didn’t want to be redundant, so I’m including this as a “bonus” statistic for you all. If you really want to hear more, just check out the full article.
Anyway, yes, e-commerce: it is NOT slowing down. According to this statistic, we can expect to see e-commerce globally continue to balloon to massive size.
So here’s our stat:
This stat also comes from Statista, and it tracks the number of global buyers on the internet since 2014, with projections extending to 2021.
Numbers in 2019 may vary, but this should be roughly accurate—and it puts us at just over 1.9 BILLION online buyers. Next year should take us to 2 BILLION marks.
This is enormous and means the number of people online who have purchased something is in the ballpark of half the people online, period.
And honestly? As long as the internet sticks around, I can only imagine eCommerce getting bigger and bigger.
Does the internet make you feel small? Maybe, or maybe it makes you feel big too.
After all, it can give you a voice and make you heard to untold numbers of people (that’s why I am so interested in hosting and website building).
But it also helps you and billions of other people talk. So back to the “small” thing.
Yeah, there are no perfect measurements at this scale: we’re dealing with billions of people here, and there’s no world government to take a census for us.
But that being said, I hope these stats gave you something to think about! The online world is massive, growing all the time, and full of surprises.
Today’s internet may not be perfect, but it’s what we’ve got. So why not stay aware of its features?
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!