The Internet is an ever-expanding virtual universe. With each passing second, millions of users across the globe interact, share, and create content on an astonishing number of websites. But have you ever stopped to wonder just how many websites exist?
The internet has come a long way since the days of ARPANET and the first website ever created. Today, we rely on it for everything from communication and entertainment to education and commerce. This insatiable appetite for connectivity has led to an explosion in the number of websites worldwide.
What is a website?
A website is a collection of related web pages, multimedia content, and other digital assets hosted on a web server and can be accessed through the Internet. It’s like a virtual book, where each web page is a separate page within that book.
Websites have unique addresses called URLs, which help users find and visit them. These websites are stored on computers called web servers, which deliver the content to a web browser (like Chrome or Firefox) when someone requests it. Websites often serve a specific purpose, such as providing information, entertainment, or a platform for communication, and can be created using various web technologies.
Active vs. inactive websites
The distinction between active and inactive websites provides a clearer understanding of the actual size and scope of the online landscape. So when you consider how large the Internet actually is, also consider how many of those websites are just standing idly by.
Active websites are those that are regularly updated and maintained by their owners or administrators. These can be blogs, news sites, online stores, social media platforms, educational resources, and more. Active websites often see frequent user engagement, like visits, clicks, comments, and shares. They also tend to rank higher in search engine results due to their updated content, better SEO, and regular user activity.
Inactive websites are those that haven’t been updated or maintained for an extended period. These websites may have outdated or irrelevant content, broken links, or limited user interaction. In some cases, the website owner may have abandoned the site, or the domain registration may have expired, meaning that you can’t even access the website. Inactive websites can also include parked domains, which is like buying a piece of property and not doing anything with it.
When you think of the total number of websites on the Internet, you should consider the number of active websites as a more meaningful metric. Active websites provide a better representation of the current state of the Internet and its dynamic landscape. Inactive websites contribute to the overall count but aren’t usually relevant or useful to users.
The challenges in counting websites accurately
Counting the number of websites accurately presents several challenges due to how rapidly changing the Internet is by nature. One of the many difficulties lies in defining what a website is to begin with. Are subdomains considered websites? What about single-page sites? What’s the criteria?
Another challenge is the constant flux of websites being created and deleted. New websites are launched every day, while others become inactive, are taken down, or have their domain registrations expire. This constant churn makes it difficult to keep an up-to-date count of websites at any given moment.
To make things even more complicated, there’s also the presence of the deep web and the dark web to consider. The deep web consists of content not indexed by standard search engines, such as private databases and intranets. The dark web, a subset of the deep web, contains websites and content that require specific software or authorization to access. These hidden portions of the Internet make it challenging to account for all existing websites.
The prevalence of parked domains and inactive websites also adds complexity to counting websites. Differentiating between active and inactive websites and determining their relevance to the total website isn’t easy.
Given these challenges, the total number of websites on the internet can only be estimated, and these estimates are subject to continuous change.
So, how many websites are there?
The number of websites on the Internet is constantly changing as new websites are created and old ones become inactive. The best we can do is guess, and that number can change in an instant.
Most publications that try to answer this question cite Siteefy as an authoritative source. According to Siteefy, there are 1.13 billion websites on the Internet, 18% of which are active. That means there are roughly 200 million active websites at the time of writing.
Keep in mind though that if we were to have an exact number of websites that are on the Internet as we write this piece, that number would be wrong by the time it gets published. It’s estimated that 10,500 new websites are created every hour, and there’s no telling how many become inactive.
The digital landscape is in a constant state of flux.