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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Observations on the "Top 25 Most Popular Genealogy Websites"

GenealogyInTime Magazine published a post called Top Trends in Genealogy. It is well worth reading this article, but I had several observations.

First, the article admits that the conclusions concerning the ranking of the sites is based on Alexa Rankings. One thing to note about Alexa rankings is that they change constantly. Any quoted Alexa ranking is for that day only. For example, the GenealogyInTime.com magazine itself is quoted in the article as ranking at 32,318 world wide (a very impressive ranking, by the way) on the day the quote was made. Looking at its rank as of the date of this blog post, GenealogyInTime.com was at 30,498 which was higher than the figure in the article, but would not necessarily have raised its ranking in the Top 25.

Another thought is that the sites compared are not adjusted by ownership. In other words No. 1, Ancestry.com also owns No. 6, Archives.com, and the other Ancestry.com websites at Nos. 11, 16,  and 17. Likewise, MyHeritage.com, No. 2 owns No. 25 WorldVitalRecords.com and No. 28 FamilyLink, now off of the top 25. Also, No. 14 FindMyPast.com and No. 20 GenesReunited.com are both owned by brightsolid.com. In my opinion, all of the sites owned by the same entity should be combined into one ranking because otherwise you are not really comparing the same entities to each other.

Also, there are sites on the list, such as 23andme.com that do DNA testing for health and research. They are not exclusively genealogy companies. As a result, any conclusions about the portion of the business due solely to genealogy is skewed by the additional business outside of genealogy. There is an additional fundamental question as to whether the DNA sites are really related to genealogy at all? They are offering a paid-for service that may or may not assist in genealogical research.

Yet another issue is that some of the sites are "free" in that there is no charge for their use and some are based on a subscription fee. Isn't more likely that someone who has paid for a subscription will use the website more than someone who has not? This raises the issue as to whether or not the free sites can be compared to the subscription sites.

Without taking into consideration the factors I outline above, I believe that the conclusions may be flawed. One effect would be that lumping the commonly owned entities would eliminate some of the numbers from the Top 25 and include sites further down the list.

Just some thoughts on a very interesting article.


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