How the Behemoths of the Web make their money

What are the largest websites globally?

The data analytics website Alexa reveals that the top 10 in order are as follows:


Unsurprisingly, Google takes the top spot. Compete, another data analytics firm, reveals that in March 2016 alone the Google domain had a total of 186,085,474 unique visitors.


Source: Compete

For the uninformed, #4 ( and #7 ( are web services based out of China, while #9 ( is Google’s Indian search engine.

There are a variety website types present on the list. What are the similarities between them? Answering this question may be useful in beginning to determine why particular websites favor one way of generating profit over another.



Search Engine was the most popular category for the top 10 websites.


In the table above, I did an analysis of some of these websites. Stats included:

  • Total Revenue
  • Ad Revenue
  • Average Monthly Ad Revenue
  • Percentage of Revenue from ads
  • Average number of monthly visitors
  • Ad Revenue to Visitor Ratio

Unsurprisingly, Google and Amazon had the highest revenues for FY 2015. Google’s Ad Revenue to Visitor Ratio was also extremely high at 2.26. This essentially means that Google made 2.26 the amount of money compared to how money visitors they received per year.

chart 4

The results show that Amazon had the lowest Ad Revenue to Visitor Ratio, which is unsurprising consider they are primarily a retailer.

In my opinion, the most surprising piece of data derived from the chart is the fact that Facebook came in second for the highest ratio. Facebook had a 1.76 ratio. Their ad revenue total was 1.76 times higher than their average monthly visitor count for FY 2015.

Google and Yahoo, both Search Engines, generate the majority of their revenue through advertising (~70% and ~92%).

Overall, sponsored ads in search engines (either directly or in social media) appear to give the biggest payoff based on the data.


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