A Quarter of the Top 10 Million Sites Ranked by Alexa Use WordPress

According to Matthias Gelbmann of W3Techs, 25% of the sites it surveys are using WordPress. The milestone comes two years after reaching the 20% mark.

Quarter of the Web
Quarter of the Web

The following image shows WordPress’ rapid growth from 13.1% in January 2011 to 25% today.

WordPress' Growth
WordPress’ Growth

Drupal and Joomla, two other popular open source content management systems combine for 4.9%, slightly less than 1/5th of WordPress.

W3Techs counts both self hosted WordPress and WordPress.com sites, “We only count the hosted sites if they are reachable via their own domain (not only as subdomain of wordpress.com), and they must qualify like all other sites in our surveys by getting enough visitors on that separate domain to make it into the top 10 million Alexa sites,” Gelbmann says.

This means that only those sites on WordPress.com that use domain mapping and have enough traffic to be in the top 10 million Alexa sites are counted leaving millions of WordPress.com sites uncounted. Only 1.25% of WordPress sites in the survey are hosted at WordPress.com.

The Fastest Growing CMS

The survey also shows that WordPress is still the fastest growing CMS, “Every 74 seconds a site within the top 10 million starts using WordPress. Compare this with Shopify, the second-fastest growing CMS, which is gaining a new site every 22 minutes,” Gelbmann says.

When sites are broken down into languages, WordPress is used on 37.3% of English language sites. Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish sites are inbetween 38-40% while Bengali is 51.3% and 54.4% for Bosnian. Only 10.6% of WordPress sites are in Chinese with 6.9% for Korean.

About 94% of sites surveyed use a Unix-like operating system such as Ubuntu. Windows servers host 6.2% of WordPress sites making it the most popular CMS running on Windows servers.

Matt Mullenweg, Co-founder of the WordPress project, says the largest opportunity for growth is in the 57% of sites not using any identifiable CMS. Earlier this year, we learned that Jetpack is going to play a significant role in WordPress gaining 50% or more of market share.

In an interview with Adam Silver on the KitchensinkWP podcast, Mullenweg explains the path to 50% and beyond.

The next goal is the majority of websites. We want to get to 50%+ and there’s a lot of work between now and then. As the percentage increases, it gets harder and harder to grow the market share, and we have to grow the market share by doing things we haven’t done in the past – really thinking about the onboarding process, really thinking about the integration with social networks, and with how WordPress works on touch devices, which is going to be the predominant computing platform of the future. These things are going to be really important.

What got us here isn’t going to get us there. Once we get to 50%, we can decide something new we want to do

Automattic is experimenting with a new side project called Jetpack Onboarding. The project is an attempt to improve WordPress’ new user experience. Hosting companies that choose to implement it can modify, add, or remove steps.

Jetpack Onboarding Screen
Jetpack Onboarding Wizard

Keep in mind that W3Techs’ market share numbers are based on the top 10 million sites in Alexa. Fifty percent market share is 5 million of those 10 million sites. Are these the sites WordPress should be targeting with development efforts? Are they more important than the millions of sites not ranked by Alexa? I don’t think so but only time will tell.


14 responses to “A Quarter of the Top 10 Million Sites Ranked by Alexa Use WordPress”

  1. In spite of the developer hate, WordPress still continues to grow at a rapid pace. It goes to show end-users aren’t concern with how softwares are built under-the-hood but their easy of use and intuitiveness.

    I am particularly interested in how Drupal will compete against WordPress for the CMS market share especially now that ETA of Drupal 8 has been announced.

  2. While impressive numbers, I’m not sure how much weight we should give the report.

    Given that Alexa only ranks those visitors who have the Alexa toolbar installed (unless they changed that requirement), the rank still misses millions of sites where the visitor doesn’t have the toolbar.

    So perhaps the numbers would be very different if tracked/measured differently?

    • Hi Danny. If the Alexa figures were an estimate based on a sample then you could well be right. However I believe that Alexa are quoting actual ‘big data’ pulled directly from the millions of Alexa toolbars .

      I can’t see that there would be much that is quantitatively different about those website people who have Alexa installed and the rest. Therefore I feel its safe to give these figures serious creedence. .. I might be missing something. If so, would love to know.

      • Hey there Chris,

        Agreed, and the figures are definitely not to be sneezed at. But then what defines “enough visitors”? Given the Alexa metric is measured by the last three months of traffic, it could be new sites that have big launches, or less frequent sites posting more frequently, as opposed to actual “quality”
        top sites.

        Either way, good to see WordPress continuing to be recognized as more than just a “blogger platform”. :)

  3. On the one hand, I’m glad to see WordPress as a leading web-software. It earned its position by creating the most usefule and yet simple CMS. On the other hand, I really don’t want the world of WordPress only. Variety is a good thing. I want ot see more good, quality CMSs, with different approaches. In my opinion, this would be good for everyone in the end.

  4. No surprise with regards to the outcome. It is a big day for the open-source content management system, and WP is definitely gaining more popularity. Many small business owners have had decent luck with using custom themes from http://themeforest.net/category/wordpress, http://www.templatemonster.com/wordpress-themes.php, etc., while larger, higher volume websites tend to have front-end development teams to code their own website front end.

  5. Actaully, the other 67% sites are in the mix demographics of old site built with html4/xhtml (which takes the chunk of the figure) and developers building their own CMS using MVC framework, Cakephp and Netbeans. If WordPress really want to get the remaining 57%, they need to do something about the admin dashboard to accommodate the ;
    1. The WordPress community,
    2. Other developers.
    3. The educational community.
    For instance, if WordPress Core Developers can allow niche website to be built with custom admin menu link back-end that takes away the other admin menu links not necessary to the site owner will make the outside developer have a rethink just like the way they are doing now with the rest api creation (a big plus). Hence, plugin developers can begin to build niche plugins that makes admin backend looks like the way it should e.g a school website built with WP should have the school features in place like the way bloom, Jetpack, CoursPress Pro and many intuitive plugins are created with visible admin features for the plugin occupying a nice chunk of space of main body when it is clicked in the admin backend. This simply helps the User Experience of the site owner and ability to manage the site easily and tell others about it. Hence, WordPress admin will be clean with custom menu link, easy to navigate, understand and manage. Also, ability to add roles to the plugin is another core solution because as an admin and the implementor and site builder, I can view all admin menus but can set role for the plugins installed for the client and make others invisible. In this way, most educational and business people cum developers alike will just have a cleaner way to manage content and build their plugin for niche website without decoupling WordPress


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