Are you interested in learning facts about the top 1 million sites in the world?
In this extensive report, we talk about WordPress usage, security analysis, and performance factors across the most popular websites on the planet.
Did you know that there are more than 1.5 billion hostnames in circulation and roughly 180 million active websites? If you love these types of statistics, check out the monthly Web Server Survey report from Netcraft. The survey focuses on monitoring the Web for all active sites and domain names.
With this many sites active at any given time, you know for a fact that there are many winners and many losers. Sites like The Internet Map give a stark perspective on just how dominant certain websites are in comparison to sites that sit in the top 10 million range and beyond.
If you were to start a new website today, how long would it take you to get inside the top 1 million site list? What about top 10,000 or top 1,000? It might take you years before you get even close.
But, it doesn’t have to be a long and hard road.
If you can figure out the major trends across the most popular websites in the world, you can optimize your site in such a way that your growth is steadfast.
And speaking of which, let’s take a look at the most popular WordPress themes and plugins within the top 1M sites list.
The Most Popular Plugins
WordPress is heavily reliant on its plugin ecosystem to provide truly dynamic website experiences. If a developer needs to write custom code to add a feature to his site, then a WordPress user can use a plugin to do the same thing.
Nevertheless, here is an up-to-date chart on the most popular plugins across all WordPress-based sites in the top 1M list:
The results are not unexpected. Contact Form 7 is the most recommended contact plugin out there, included in pretty much every WordPress plugin list ever. Jetpack is great to add numerous social features to WordPress blogs, and Visual Composer helps you design custom websites effortlessly.
Alright, now that we have looked at the plugins, let’s take a look at themes!
The Most Popular Themes
We have a similar issue here in the sense that theme paths also get obfuscated whenever WordPress files get minified. But, the data we do have is accurate and very much in line with our expectations.
It looks like Divi is leading the way as the most popular WordPress theme in the top 1M sites list. And this sounds about right given how much money ElegantThemes has poured into promoting the theme.
Next up, we have a Newspaper and Avada. Since Avada has more than 490,000 sales on ThemeForest — there’s no question in our minds that we would see it on the top 10 themes list.
It has been roughly two years since most WordPress themes come out with multiple demo designs per the theme. As a result, a single theme can accumulate hundreds of thousands of users simply because it provides so many different solutions.
What’s surprising is that we don’t see themes like Thrive or Genesis on this list. Both have had enormous growth over the years, but perhaps not as steady as many would have thought.
Two months since its release and 60,000 sites in the top 1M list have updated their sites to the latest version.
WordPress 4.x, however, maintains a dominant position, and this has likely to do with the fact that agencies and external developers build many sites. As a result, updating a site from one version to another can cause some major issues.
Now that we know a little bit about WordPress let’s take a look at other interesting facts we have learned.
What is the most popular Web Server?
We ran a thorough analysis of Server Headers to analyze the most popular web servers and proxies among the top 1M websites. And the findings don’t surprise us one bit.
Apache looks like the clear winner here, doesn’t it? Well, while Apache is definitely popular, you have to keep in mind that Cloudflare, OpenResty, SUCURI use Nginx. As a result, Nginx manages to come out slightly on top.
Here is the overall market share data for the most popular web servers:
As little as a few years ago, this report would have been upside down — in favor of Apache. But, thanks to the rapid evolution of Nginx and the performance benefits that you can reap, we know that Nginx will only continue to dominate.
But do remember that our analysis is based on the top 1 million sites. Because Nginx is considered the fastest web server, it doesn’t surprise us that the best websites in the world choose it as their go-to solution.
PHP is in a dominant position
We analyzed the entire sites list for “X-Powered-By” headers, and the results show that PHP is dominantly leading the way.
It’s fair to say that WordPress contributes significantly to this dominance, but it’s also a known fact that PHP has been around for longer than most modern technologies.
“X-Powered-By” is a common non-standard HTTP response header (most headers prefixed with an ‘X-‘ are non-standard). It’s often included by default in responses constructed via a particular scripting technology. It’s important to note that it can be disabled and/or manipulated by the server.
As such, we wanted to check how many websites are implementing the OWASP Secure Headers list to prevent common web attacks.
The results are not too shabby…
And if you’re wondering why Feature-Policy is implemented so sparsely, it’s an entirely new header policy.
Feature Policy allows web developers to selectively enable, disable, and modify the behavior of certain APIs and web features in the browser. It’s like CSP but instead of controlling security, it controls features!
In short, it helps to prevent the browser from performing actions that could be malicious. In particular, actions related to iFrames, media, and eCommerce.