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The Internet is Approaching Two Billion Websites

October 12, 2022 | Posted in: Search | Web Design

For the first time in history — obviously — there will soon be two billion websites on the Internet. That is billion with a “b.” It’s a number so large it almost cannot be comprehended. As of this writing there are 1.99B websites online (via InternetLiveStats). To help illustrate how big of a number that is, Medium.com wrote that “a million golf balls will fit in the average-sized master bedroom… a billion golfballs would fit inside the Grand Central Terminal Main Concourse.” If you had a golf ball for every website on the web, you could fill two train terminals …or sell them for a lot of money! We thought it was time to take a look back at the history of the Internet and how it became so well-populated.

circuits inside a computer


Tim Berners-Lee’s invention (“the World Wide Web”) functioned for the first time on Christmas day when he successfully communicated between an HTTP client and a server (Insider). If you aren’t familiar with the technical jargon, an “HTTP client” is anything that communicates directly with a server on the web. Your browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) is also an HTTP client, but those hadn’t been invented yet! Tim Berners-Lee used a much more rudimentary tool to make the connection and later invented the first browser.


The very first website was published to the Internet on August 6th, 1991. It can still be seen at http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html. While rudimentary, it proved the concept that one document could be made available to anyone with access to the Internet. Networks were still being developed among government agencies and universities, but Web 1.0 was live.

The 2000s

Web 2.0 was officially born in the mid-2000s, defined by the influx of user-generated content. Rather than simply viewing documents, Web 2.0 properties like Myspace and Wikipedia allowed users to publish their own content and communicate with each other. A combination of technical improvements to the WWW standard and advancements in PC hardware contributed to this new generation of Internet behavior. From the year 2000 to the end of 2009, broadband Internet access expanded from 1% of American households to 59% (Pew Research).

smartphone users standing in a circle

The 2010s

Ten years into Web 2.0, the biggest change came in the form of which devices were actually using it. Handhelds like cell phones and tablets started connecting to the World Wide Web and by 2014 their usage had overtaken desktop devices (CNN Money). This shift dramatically effected the website design industry and set the stage for “mobile first design” which still dominates today’s web design philosophies. Also in 2014, the number of websites online raced past the 1 billion mark (@timberners_lee).

Web 3.0

Not to be confused with “Web3” (blockchain, decentralization, and cryptocurrencies), Web 3.0 is a concept first envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee in 1999. He said “I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines (History of Information).” While the WWW still remains largely unorganized, over 10 million websites are currently using “rich markup” to assist machines with content analysis (Schema.org). By including standardized format in their code, web developers can help everything from Google’s crawler to screen readers get a better understanding of on-page content. This trend has made the web more accessible to a wider range of users and devices.

The 2020s

In this decade, the most noticeable trend to date is the sheer volume of information and traffic moving across the web. It may feel like change has slowed but between 2020 and 2021, global traffic rose 23% and the number of active users reached half of the global population (Telegeography). “The Internet of Things” or “IoT” has also altered the online landscape with new types of devices joining the Internet. Everything from washing machines to security cameras is becoming “smart” and participating in the global network of networks.

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