What is the Average Lifespan of a Web Site

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http web siteThe other day I was thinking about web sites that disappear without warning. It’s like one day they are there, and the next poof they’re gone. Lack of time, money, or interest seems to be a common reason that a web site calls it quits. In some cases we never know the reason. It’s just a mystery.

I started out on quest to see if I could figure out what the average lifespan of a web site happened to be. There seems to be very limited information available on the subject. I could only find a couple of sources, which were all fairly old.

The first one:
What’s the average lifespan of a Web page? on August 12th, 2009

It quotes a few sources, but they are not exactly detailed.

Some links coincidentally no longer exist or redirect.

The second one:
There was an article published by The Washington Post back on May 16th, 2007 titled: Saving Our Digital Heritage.

While the article is primarily about digital storage it does mention the following:

An estimated 44 percent of Web sites that existed in 1998 vanished without a trace within just one year. The average life span of a Web site is only 44 to 75 days.”

I realize that the article is a bit old (from 2007) and it’s talking about websites from 1998. However, I believe that the lifespan of a new website is still fairly short-lived today.

Recently I went through my Firefox Bookmarks, and I was amazed by the number of sites that no longer exist. Some of them were several years old, but I was expecting more of them to be online yet.

A large percentage of the ones I checked do not even exist anymore. Many are gone completely. While a handful of sites have either changed owners or content. There was a point where I was wondering what kind of a site might pop up as I went through them. You really never know when it comes to the internet.

World WebsitesSome were still online, but they hadn’t been updated in several years. I was delighted to see that they still existed, but disappointed that the most recent post was 2 to 3 years old or more. I am not even sure why these sites were still online after all that time. I wouldn’t expect them to be generating very much revenue if any. The only thing I can think of is that they might have pre-paid several years of domain name registration and hosting in advance. If that were the case I am not expecting them to be around much longer.

I have helped a lot of people with their websites over the years. Most of the ones that I checked no longer exist either. Especially ones that are a year old or more.

Do most websites vanish without a trace within one year?
This would be difficult to answer in today’s world. New sites pop up every day while others die off. They come and go so quickly that I don’t know how we could come up with an accurate figure.

Is the lifespan of a website still 44-75 yet today?
Possibly if you don’t take into consideration all the free sites or services such as Google blogspot/blogger, WordPress.com Blogs, Tumblr, and other Web 2.0 sites. Then again, many of these are abandon too.

The kind of websites I am talking about are the ones where people registered a domain name, and purchased paid web hosting with the intent to create a website. Whether it be for personal, business, hobby, or what have you.

I know when someone first starts a website it is an exciting time. They have big plans and ideas. Some invest a lot of money in premium themes/templates, plugins/modules, or even hire a developer/programmer. Sometimes I see people talking about how they spent $500 to $1000 or more. Not to mention all the time they put into their new website.

When I hear about site owners that have invested a substantial amount of money only to have it disappear in less than a year I feel bad for them. I am sure some people probably wish that they hadn’t spent so much to get started.

Don’t spend too much money in the early stages
I have read probably a dozen or more posts the past couple of months that encouraged people to get a premium theme and/or to spend money making their website look more professional.

My suggestion is first don’t spend money on anything that you can’t afford. Second find yourself a nice free theme/template and a few plugins/modules and work with them for at least 6 months. After 6 months or so has gone by, you will most likely have a better understanding of how your website software works, and what you can do with it. If you gave up on your site within the first 6 months you wouldn’t be out that much. If your website has managed to survive 6 months then you will be in a better position to determine whether or not you want to continue. If you have a decent following and are still just as excited about your website as you were when you started it then you might consider spending money on premium features at that time.

I still don’t believe that it is absolutely necessary to have a premium theme, but if you are thinking about it consider waiting 6 months before investing too much money.

About: Jeremy LeSarge - AKA: Ray (209 Posts)

I am the site owner and administrator of DialMe.com. I provide help and tips for Boonex Dolphin on the main part of this website where you will also find an assortment of other resources. Here, on the blog I write about a variety of topics surrounding WordPress, technology, social media/networking, SEO, and webmaster resources.




25 Comments

  1. Reply

    I didn’t realize the life of a website was so short. I have had mine for a while. But I guess that people get bored and are not that interested in the hard work it takes to get and keep a website going.

    It is a shame that there is much misinformation and consfusion out there but I guess that at the end of the day, a webmaster cannot be sure that his site will ‘make it’ or not. I worry about my sites every day. And there is no guarantee that I will still be in business even in just a few months.

    That keeps me working. but it also worries me a great deal!
    david recently posted..AAPL Stock Commentary – Pre Market 5-24-2012My Profile

    • Reply

      There are a lot of sites that are slapped together in hopes of making a few dollars. Sometimes I know some of these kinds of sites disappear fairly fast. I think they find out they didn’t get rich quick and easy and give up maybe. Of course there are all kinds of possibilities.

  2. Leo

    Reply

    You’re recommendation to spend little at the early stages hits the mark. With so many freebies on the web, you can test your concepts for free before deciding to go on a paid website, if ever. I have a blogger blog myself that generates income from ads, and yet I’ve never spent a penny on it.

    • Reply

      I tend to lean towards the free or cheap options anyway. I am not one to drop a lot of money into something until I am sure about what I am getting myself into.

  3. Chad

    Reply

    I guess there is really something with the second year of a site that makes is hard to hurdle. I guess it is the euphoria of being able to last for a year.

    • Reply

      I don’t know if the second year is any easier, but if you manage to get past the first year you beat the odds.

  4. Lenora

    Reply

    I haven’t known that the most of the sites live only for a few months. I thought that these statistics were better. Thanks for sharing your useful advices, they are very helpful for me, because I’ve just started my blog.

  5. Mike

    Reply

    I have definitely seen my fair share of websites going up and then disappearing completely. (MySpace, anyone?) I kind of see Facebook going that way as well.

    I definitely agree on not spending much money in the beginning, maybe stay free until it booms and then move forward.

    • Reply

      A website is one of the cheapest ways to start a business. Where else can you get started for free or only a few dollars a month.

  6. Reply

    Good advice! I see many newbies keep spending money on premium themes, plugins, logo designs and even use their own money to organize blog post writing contest. While they have every right to do whatever they like, I still think a newbie blogger should focus more on writing good content instead of spending too much money on the things above. I try to use free tools as possible when it comes to blogging. Domain registration and hosting(anything else?) are the only things I pay. It’s very easy to start a blog, to maintain it is the difficult part. I see some bloggers managing more than 5 blogs per person when they just started. I think that’s way too many for a start, more is not always better here. Not trying to throw cold water on them, but those 5 would pretty likely ended up being abandoned soon. Or maybe 1 or 2 will still stay active πŸ™‚
    Peter Lee recently posted..How to Use Social Media as an Educational ToolMy Profile

    • Reply

      Good point about those that have several websites. I find that a couple of small projects is a lot of work. I couldn’t imagine updating and maintaining 5 or more websites.

    • Reply

      I know of a few that added new content often and they were pretty active, and it’s like they went dormant or are in hibernation mode or something. It seems like the site owners just disappeared or something. It is kind of a bummer when a site I really like totally disappears though.

  7. Jean

    Reply

    Wow, that is definitely quite interesting. I thought the average lifespan would be atleast longer than a couple of months.

    I agree about not spending too much early on. Better to test the waters and take it easy, like with anything else. Just like how in learning a musical instrument, we start out with cheap instruments and get more expensive instruments as our skill, experience and interest pick up.

    -Jean

    • Reply

      That reminds me of a friend that spent all this money on this exercise equipment. He was all into exercising and getting into shape. A month or two later he never used any of the equipment he bought ever again.

  8. Becca

    Reply

    Just like any kind of business putting up a website needs planning, research, evaluation are the important factor of any business venture. Great piece of advice. Thank you

    • Reply

      Some people spend very little to get started so maybe they don’t care if they give up so soon because they wouldn’t be out very much.

  9. Reply

    That was pretty staggering that so many websites dissapear so quickly. When I think about it though, I have built and scrapped a few non starters myself πŸ™‚
    Steve recently posted..Traffic Travis 4My Profile

    • Reply

      I have done the same a few times over the years. I also have a few others on the drawing board, but I just don’t want to get started with them until I know that I can commit enough time to them.

  10. Tan

    Reply

    Is the site still consider alive if never update for long period of time? Or being a park page?

  11. Wade

    Reply

    I wonder if this is related to people not putting any original content on their website. ie, just letting it sit there?

  12. Oka

    Reply

    I once had a web and when the web was big web suddenly disappeared, I am very upset with something like that, I think the selection of the hosting needs

  13. Dickson

    Reply

    I am totally agreed with you, most of the websites or blogs are suddenly disappeared or not updated.
    I think, one of the reason is less of visitor and didn’t get any profit from the websites or blogs.

  14. Cristian Stan

    Reply

    I think websites “vanish” because their owners are not realistic when they start the projects. Also, at the beginning you need a plan, you need objectives: in 3 months I want to have 1K traffic, in 4 months I want to have 1K pages indexed by Google, I don’t know, stuff like that. You need objectives to fight for: both long/short term goals

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