Web enjoys year of biggest growth
The web has grown more in 2005 than it did at the height
of the dotcom boom, says a study.
In the year to October the web grew by more than 17
million sites, says monitoring firm Netcraft.
This figure exceeds the growth of 16 million sites seen
in 2000 when net fever reached its most intense pitch.
Netcraft said the rise was caused by small businesses
going online, firms making the most of web advertising
schemes and spammers.
In its October 2005 survey, Netcraft found 74.4
million web addresses, a rise of more than 2.68 million
from the September figure.
This jump of just under three million took the total
growth in sites for 2005 past the previous record of 16
million seen five years ago.
Domains have become the base for anything
else folks want to do on the web
Rich Miller, Netcraft
By way of comparison Netcraft's monthly survey
celebrated its tenth anniversary in August 2005. The
first survey it ran, in the year that Amazon launched,
found only 18,957 sites. Five years later the figure was
For Netcraft, a site is essentially a newly
registered domain or net address, said Rich Miller, an
analyst at the net monitoring firm.
However, this count is complicated by the fact that
the web allows many different sites, sometimes
thousands, to hang off the same net address.
Also many registrars who sell net names use unsold
domains as holding pages to attract new trade. These
pages may never be updated but do have a small amount of
web content on them.
As a result there can be a big difference between the
total count of sites and so-called "active sites" that
are regularly updated.
In the past it has been estimated that up to 60% of
all the sites counted by Netcraft were not actively
Despite this, Mr Miller believes that much of the
recent growth is genuine and marks the appearance of
proper, active sites.
In particular, he said, the last few months have seen
small businesses going online in the manner many
expected them to do five years ago. Part of this has
been driven by new tools and services which make it easy
and cheap to launch a web business.
"A website is now seen as indispensable for small
businesses," he told the BBC News website.
"Domains have become the base for anything else folks
want to do on the web," he said. "That's your brand."
Blogs and spammers
Growth also comes from the rise in blogging, in which
users write regularly updated web journals on any and
Some blog sites host the journals on their own domain
but many bloggers have taken the step of setting up
their own site and installing blogging software on that.
Growth has also come from registrars making better
use of unused domains by using them to exploit the
advertising systems operated by Google and Yahoo.
Furthermore, said Mr Miller, there has been
significant growth in firms that buy up domains that are
no longer in use but still have significant web traffic
associated with them. These can be used to exploit web
Finally many spammers are setting up many domains
that try to push their products to the top of search
rankings. Mr Miller said many spammers ran sophisticated
operations that automated website creation to push
"There's a lot of innovative projects going on out
there and very clearly folks are making money now rather
than just buying Superbowl commercials," he said.