The internet is where search engines crawl and all the SEO action takes place. It’s the home of fails, trolls, piracy, memes and insurmountable amounts of knowledge. It’s a place where miracles and insane coincidences can happen. It’s the black swan that transformed the world as we know it and the tool that connects all of us in less than 6 degrees of separation.
Trying to imagine our lives without internet access is like trying to imagine our lives without electricity or transportation. In fact, most ‘would you rather‘ questions end with votes in favor of having internet access over basic needs such as love or friends.
While it’s certainly debatable whether it’s the greatest invention of all time, it is featured in just about every top-10-greatest-inventions list. What are some of the mind-blowing numbers behind such a vast body? To answer that, we compiled some of the most recent stats and figures we could find along with some fun facts. Having a better grasp of the sheer scope of this will help you better understand search engines and the environment we all operate in.
It’s older than some may think
The ancestors of the internet were early experimental networks comprised of no more than a few computers and were operational as early as 1969. Of that primordial technosoup, the most notable one was ARPANET, the first network to implement the protocol suite TCP/IP, which became the technical foundation of the modern internet.
In fact, the first email was technically sent through ARPANET by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson in 1971, and the email was simply a test message to himself. It was sent from one computer to another computer sitting next to it.
Surprisingly, email usage is only increasing as time goes by. You’d think that with the advent of instant messaging and social media it would change, but emails are not slowing down. In 2018, 281 billion emails are expected to be sent per DAY! (One billion of them possibly being from a Nigerian prince in captivity.) That’s 102 trillion emails a year, and about 53% of them will be opened on mobile devices. Emails are not going anywhere, and they’re only expected to grow, with current projections standing at 4.4% growth per year.
Another historical milestone that happened via ARPANET is the first e-commerce deal, which took place in 1971: The deal took place between Stanford and MIT students over a bag of weed (the amount or strain of marijuana in question remains undetermined).
The field of e-commerce has come a long way since that ground-breaking bag of weed. In 2018, global e-commerce revenue is expected to be 2.774 TRILLION US dollars!
Let’s talk about 2018. How big is the internet, really?
While no one knows for sure how big the internet is, here are a few figures of what we do (sort of) know about the surface:
The World Wide Web, the current embodiment of the internet since its inception in 1989, has accumulated over 1,805,260,010 websites. That is a website for every person in China, with some left over! This represents a nice, overall growth since 1993, when there were only 623 websites on the internet (and we suspect at least one of these websites was dedicated to cat photos).
Out of these current websites, only 172 million are estimated to be active sites—that’s less than 10%.
Less than 1 million websites (or 0.1%) receive over 50% of total web traffic, as illustrated by this map of the internet.
Interestingly enough, that is similar to the distribution of wealth in the world.
There are more than 334.2 million registered domain names, but not all registered domains are used. Some are registered and never used, and others are just registered so that no one else can register them or so they could be sold later to the highest bidder. A notable example of the money that could be made from domain trading was Insurance.com, which was sold for 35.6 Million in 2010!
The reason for the difference between the number of domains and websites is that many domains have sub-domains that allow several different websites to exist under a single domain name.
The entire internet, as represented by this number of websites, is essentially hosted on more than 7,228,005 computers. Impressive, considering that in 1973, the entire internet consisted of only 42 computers.
These numbers can be overwhelming for anyone considering starting a website. The odds are simply stacked against you with your one website buried among hundreds of millions. Luckily, you don’t have to be the next Google, or even ranked within Alexa’s top 10,000, to make a successful website, as long as you have a notable presence in a lucrative niche. A smart use of SEO and SEM can help even the odds. Anyone willing to produce quality content and spend time, money and effort towards growing his website has a chance. And who knows—you might even get lucky and become the next big thing. All the industry-leading websites were once beginners in their field!
With all of this in mind, it is no wonder SEO grew to a more than 65 billion dollar a year industry in the US alone, serving the need for website owners to be ranked high on the search index. If you want to have a better chance at having a piece of some lucrative niche pie, here are some niche research tricks you can do with PRT’s Keyword Discovery Tool to help you along the way:
|5 amazing things you can do with PRT’s Ranking Discovery tool|
How many people use the Internet?
Out of 7,605,000,000 people, there are estimated to be somewhere between 3.8 to 4.2 billion internet users, and at least 93% of them use the internet by mobile. That is more than half of all people on earth, and it equals what the earth’s population was in 1976. And with plans to spread more internet to the world, such as this plan, and this one, this number will keep growing (making search engines and SEO even more highly lucrative), and with it, the need for proper rank tracking.
Mobile is the present and the future
Google, Facebook and Twitter have more users on mobile than on desktop. Mobile is the dominant force in tech today, and it is getting stronger as time goes by. Almost 60% of all internet traffic is through mobile devices. Makes sense, since there are more than 3.7 billion active mobile internet users.
Not everyone can afford a PC or a Mac, but most can afford a cheap Chinese smartphone with an internet connection. In fact, World’s Poorest More Likely to Have a Phone Than a Toilet (meanwhile in Japan, people enjoy both worlds with toilets that connect to the internet). It’s no wonder, since there are now startups such as this one, planning to make a $30 smartphone for third-world countries.
There is also a paradigm shift, as the generations progress, toward a preference of hand-held devices over desktop. With a mobile phone, the internet is in the palm of your hand, and it becomes a symbol of your freedom and mobility to roam like the data itself.
Making sure your websites are dynamic, responsive, and user-friendly is critical to increasing sales, expanding your reach, and connecting with your audience. That is especially true from an SEO perspective, since Google ranks websites differently for mobile vs. desktop.
Mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches since 2016, and Google (being fully aware of this trend and even acting as one of the driving forces behind it) has started its “Mobile First” approach. Now, knowing your mobile ranks is the most relevant thing for proper SEO in 2018 and beyond. We did an in-depth story about this, so you should give it a read:
|Why knowing your mobile ranks is now more important than ever before! (+ 5 tips on improving mobile visibility)|
There are more than 5 billion mobile users holding more than 8 Billion devices sending 16+ million texts every minute. That means there are more mobile devices in the world today than people! If all those devices suddenly gained self-awareness and decided to fuse into a single entity, it would be bigger than the empire state building and weigh in at more than 800,000 tons! If this cellphone entity were able to take any form it liked, it could conquer the world easily. With 355,000,000 mobile phones sold this year alone, the positive trend towards mobile will continue full throttle.
The amount of data created each day on the internet
A yottabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000 gigabytes, or 1,000 zettabytes. This landmark hasn’t been reached yet, but according to the IDC, we’ve generated more than 30 zettabytes of data so far. To get things into perspective, it would take roughly 3 billion of today’s largest 12TB enterprise HDDs to store that 30ZB+ data. On average, the US alone dishes out 2,657,700 gigabytes of internet data every single minute.
Fun fact: 1 gram of DNA can potentially store 241 petabytes of data, so to store all the current data, we would need just 273 fleshy pounds, and that could be easily stored in the trunk of a sedan.
Global internet traffic in 2018 is expected to reach 150,000 petabytes, or 0.15ZB, per month.
According to IBM‘s supercomputer (and possible future A.I. overlord) Watson, more than 90% of all data that exists was created since 2016 at a modest rate of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day. Let that sink in for a moment. Remember how big you thought that internet was a few years ago? Think back to all that you saw—all that content and all those videos that you watched prior to 2016—and realize it was just a 10% fraction of all that exists today. The reason for this insane increase in just the last two years is the advent of cloud solutions, passive user data collection, the Internet of Things, and bots.
Bots account for more than 50% of all internet traffic, and the bad ones are very prolific spammy content generators.
Devices that are connected to the internet, mobile devices in particular, now stream data all the time. It’s not just that pic you posted on Instagram of your continental breakfast, it’s also that data you unknowingly stream to the netherworld of the net: data collected by Google, Apple and apps that we use. We gave them that permission, hidden somewhere in a sea of text called the User License Agreement.
The IoT (Internet of Things) is booming. Just about every new device strives to connect to the internet—from your TV, to your car, and of course A.I. personal assistants such as Alexa. In 2018, we have about 27 billion connected devices all streaming data to the web. That’s almost 4 devices that are connected to the internet PER PERSON on the planet! Everything is becoming more connected on the mega infrastructure scale as well, as more and more cities install cameras and sensors that constantly monitor the environment and stream data.
Want to tackle some of that data? Maybe learn something new about the world? A good place to start would be Wikipedia, which has more than 43 million articles containing an estimated 23 billion words in 299 languages. If you knew all of the 299 languages and had a lot of free time, it would take you 593 years to read all of that data (if you read at an average pace of 250 wpm and spend 8 hours a day reading)!
Some social media stats
No blog post about internet facts and stats would be complete without acknowledging one of the major driving forces on the internet and our lives, and the source of political revolutions and a black swan in its own right: social media. Nearly half the world’s population (3.03 billion people) are on some type of social media. 2.7 billion of them are actively using social on mobile devices.
So here we go, some fun stats about the biggest of them all, ranked by popularity:
- Facebook – the blue emperor of social media – one of the biggest entities on the web, supplying you with fresh addictive dopamine and adrenaline on a daily basis! It has 2.072 billion users, making Mark Zuckerberg an emperor of the biggest empire that ever existed, and also the ruler of the biggest AI population (as 270 millions of these users are assumed to be bots). The noble people of Facebookistan have graced each other with more than 1.13 trillion likes. Visitors of biological origin spend an average of 10:54 minutes on the site.
- WhatsApp – Facebook’s adopted son. Most don’t consider the instant messenger apps as a social network, but having the ability to create chat groups and have a diverse means to communicate makes WhatsApp a social network with 1.3 billion users, sending more than 60 billion messages a day!
- Wechat – the Chinese adaptation of WhatsApp – 1.12 billion users
- Instagram – Facebook’s fame-seeking adopted child – your Go-To source of food and celebrity photos – 800 million users are handing 4.2 billion likes per day, and more than 100 million photos are uploaded every single day
- Weibo – The enormous Chinese hybrid of Facebook and Twitter brings in a total of 600 million monthly users
- LinkedIn – the well dressed straightedge businessman brother of the social media family – 500 million users – 44% of them earn more than $75,000 in a year. More than 1 billion endorsements were made on LinkedIn. The most popular word is ‘Motivated‘.
- Twitter – it’s the world leaders’ social network of choice – 83% of 193 UN member countries have Twitter presence.
It has a total of 330 million users that are expected to send 246 Billion tweets in 2018
Bot population: 48 million bot accounts (no data as to how many of them might be UN members).
- Reddit – 234 million users making more than 5 million comments a day in 853,824 subedits.
- Pinterest – 200 million users have made more than 50 billion pins.
- Snapchat – The Gen Z social network – 178 million daily users – 60 percent of them are under 24 years of age.
- Google+ – Google’s dying social network has 111 million users
Hope those social stats were enough, but if you want more, Domo made this cool infographic depicting even more dazzling internet data.
All those stats will just keep growing. If all those numbers are overwhelming, that’s ok. By the end of the day, even all of those impressive numbers are just a fleeting moment in time, less than a blink inside infinity, all happening on our tiny planet. A result of the seemingly impossible occurrence we call life, which evolved on a rock that is floating in space, and all because this rock was formed the exact distance needed from the sun. Our planet is a speck of dust among billions just like it in our Milky Way Galaxy, which itself is one of hundreds of billions of Galaxies forever wandering the observable universe looking for their cosmic car keys.
You might have noticed we omitted Google (and search engines in general), YouTube and Amazon stats from this post. Well, that’s because their numbers are so juicy they warrant a post dedicated just to that. That and more in our upcoming blog posts!
To finish this article, we leave you with this video of Arthur C. Clarke predicting the internet in 1964:
You might not be able to stop your private data being extracted by Google and added to the ocean of data, but with PRT at least you will always be able to know where every website ranks in their search index from virtually any location on the planet. PRT is the industry standard go-to tool for more than 50,000 SEO professionals of all fields of the trade. Those who want to stay on top of their game in this immense body of ever growing content and potential, need the most accurate rank they can get. You can start from our FREE PLAN.
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