Web hosting a downward trend?

We noticed an interesting thing the other day while doing some research with Google Trends. The number of searches in Google for the term “web hosting” has decreased a lot in the last four years.


Compared to the high points in 2004, there only seems to be ¼ as many searches for web hosting in 2008. Is the general interest for web hosting decreasing, even though the web as a whole is growing? It should be pointed out that the search term “hosting” shows the same downward curve.

We couldn’t help but discuss this graph here in the Pingdom office. Many of us have a past in the web hosting industry, and of course we work with web hosting companies every day because of our uptime monitoring service, so we are highly interested in the industry.

Some possible reasons for this downward trend could be:

  • The web hosting market is getting increasingly saturated.
  • Terminology is changing, so people are searching for other things. (But in that case what?)
  • People interested in web hosting are increasingly using other avenues than Google to find information. (For example web hosting forums and social networks.)

These are just theories. Truth be told, we really don’t know.

What do you think?


  1. People could be more accustomed to searching blogs and getting recommendations off people. The web hosting market is very full at the moment and host of the hosts are probably not that good. As a result people are working off word of mouth.

  2. Another hypothesis : people searching for “web hosting” include non-professional. A few years ago, if you wanted a personnal web site you had to make it yourself and to find a host. Nowadays, a lot of people will choose a blogging platform (Blogger, Typepad…). And you have other ways to express yourself, as MySpace (widely used by music bands).
    So, maybe people are less searching for “web hosting” as they do not need it as much ?
    Professionals still need it, and some individuals too.

  3. Perhaps it’s getting specialized, and thus “Terminology is changing, so people are searching for other things.” For example, PHP hosting, rails hosting, .net hosting, etc.

  4. I think that webhosting is used by two main camps of people: developers who want to build applications and amateurs who want to build homepages for themselves or for specific events (with calendars, pictures, videos, etc.). Developers know what “webhosting” is and would not need to Google it very much. The amatueurs, who would have been the ones Googling “webhosting” whenever they wanted to create a website, don’t need webhosts anymore. Historically, if you wanted to post media to the web or interact with people -> you setup your own website. But now social networking provides so much of that functionality for people, that less and less amateurs are creating their own sites. Why write a bunch of bad html and manually post pictures when you can use Flickr instantly, for free. Why post a calendar for your sports team when you can use Google Docs? Why build a website for your garage band when you can use MySpace? Individuals used to create their own homepages and now they’re creating social networking profiles. These amateurs, in my mind, were the people who didn’t really know what “webhosting” was and would have been responsible for most of the Google searches. Now, instead of signing up for webhosting they just login to Facebook. Webhosts are mostly selling their services to app developers who want to create the latest, greatest web application, make money off AdSense, or build sites for other people.

    My full thoughts here:


  5. I was thinking the same idea as Hans, but it didn’t seem like the phrases I entered fared any better. Keith does present an interesting case and I can see where some of the demand is met by other products or services. Personally, I wouldn’t use the phrase “web hosting” as its generic.

  6. one simple answer: web hosting is now a commodity.

    4 years ago, it was still marginal. now the Internet is flooded with companies doing hosting. even Google and Amazon are doing it, which would have been unthinkable 4 years ago. we now have free web hosting (Google sites), to unlimited cheap plans (dreamhost), to specialized hosting (Amazon, GAE, rackspace)

  7. I second what Keith said. Typical end-user will choose what’s easiest. Social media now lets them share/publish with little to no pain, while coding Frontpage (remember those days) was always complicated (is it still?)

    Frankly, even though I provide web building services, I can see myself using non-web-hosting space for some of my stuff (ok, I do prefer my servers).

  8. Searching for web hosting results in a lot of spam sites that cannot be trusted. I do think people are relying on word of mouth, going where their friends go, and searching in forums.

  9. When the web was “new” everyone wanted hosting because that’s what you needed to have a presence on the internet. Learning HTML and making your home page (complete with under construction jpgs and spinning skull gifs) was the thing that everybody did. Free hosting from Geocities and Lycos helped a great deal with that.

    Nowadays, social networking sites such as Myspace and blogging sites allow someone to have that same presence and when, combined with all the social networking features and the ease in which you can personalise your profiles what need is there for the average person to have their own website ?

  10. Interesting observation. If the typical user goes to YouTube, Facebook, Flickr etc for their hosting needs what do all the webmasters do? Do they also choose such options, even if maybe a bit more technical, such as Google App Engine and S3? I wonder what the web hosting business will look like in 5 years, if there is really any significant business left to be had when web hosting becomes an almost free commodity.

  11. @Andreas – look for clouds. Better reliability, scalability, performance – seems like a logical transition to me. I myself just switched from PowWeb to Google App Engine.

  12. This is the case of a conclusion based on false assumptions.

    The downward sloping graph is not unique to web hosting.. try other search phrases and you will see the same downward sloping trend. Examples: tropical fish, mountain biking, car paint.. etc.

    The cause is not clear. Are people using more specific searches? The downward trend seems to be fore more obscure “longtail” search terms. Maybe google changed their algorithm in some way that affects more obscure results? Or maybe people are spending more time on major sites and less time searching for anything. Plus there are more people online than in 2004 and that is somehow affecting the results.

    Google trends is useless for single search phrases. It is only useful for comparing several of them. “web hosting, rails hosting” instead of “wen hosting”.

  13. I think web hosting is still in high demand and it will go up as people look for a way to make some extra cash. You can get high quality web hosting cheap no matter what it is for a web site or blog.

  14. Probably a bit late to chime in on this conversation but I believe this trend was due to people getting more sophisticated search patterns – these days (2 years on from this post) using 5 and 6 word combinations with geolocaters are much more common! Also in my business Voucher codes people will use those terms

    so maybe people now are searching for

    vps uptime “promo code” site:.co.uk

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