The map above is an infographic of the largest online web properties.
Notable websites are Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Craigslist, Wikipedia, Youtube and others.
What is most impressive is the way that these sites got so large. None of them had any large scale advertising program, and most did no advertising at all. These sites all grew to become industry leaders through viral marketing and word of mouth.
How can you replicate this success? Build an online business that people have to use.
If we take Facebook as an example, they were not the first social networking site, and when they launched MySpace was the dominant force in this category. No one thought that anyone could catch Myspace, but the crafty programmers at FB thought they could provide a better service by allowing users to be verified, offer privacy, security and a safe place to share information. They overcame huge adversity by focusing on university students and offered them an exclusive place to connect and network. Facebook expanded from the university scene while keeping their users trust and by adding features that added immense value.
Facebook was the online pioneer of allowing 3rd party apps, and this created a new online genre of social games. The average FB user spends 20 minutes per day online, and much of this time is spent playing online games. Facebook created a platform that is borderline addictive and nearly impossible to ignore. Some of my friends only communicate through facebook, so by default I must use it to contact them.
I’m not saying that you could or even should try to create the next Facebook, but they are an excellent example of creating a world class website on a small budget.
Here are some statistics about the icon chart
The area of each website icon is proportional to the sum of the reach of all sites using that icon. All canonical versions of the domain name (www, www1, .net etc) used the same icon, only one of them was counted. The smallest icons—those corresponding to sites with approximately 0.0001% reach—are scaled to 16×16 pixels. The largest icon (Google) is 11,936 x 11,936 pixels, and the whole diagram is 37,440 x 37,440.
See an interactive version of the world’s largest websites at nmap.