Consistent – We originally published our Top 100 list in January 2012. Since that time, new names have appeared on the list and some old names have dropped off. To properly gauge the growth of genealogy, however, we needed to use the same names from the original Top 100 Genealogy Websites List. If we were to rerun the list now some new names would appear. However, that was not our objective. Instead, we wanted to establish a baseline for comparison and to account for something called ‘survivor bias’, which basically means that a well-constructed study must use the same websites both at the beginning and at the end of the study.
Complete – Larger websites have the most influence on genealogy. Our study adjusts the statistics of all 100 websites in the Top 100 Genealogy Websites List to account for size. For example, website ‘A’ that gets ten times the internet traffic of website ‘B’ also gets ten times the weighting in the study results.
Genealogy websites devoted to cemetery records have become popular.
Timely – Certain events can cause a noticeable spike in traffic to many genealogy websites. These need to be factored in to any study. For example, the release of the US 1940 census in early April 2012 caused a pronounced spike in traffic to many genealogy websites. The traffic increase may be temporary or it may be permanent. It is difficult to gauge the exact impact in advance. To avoid this type of situation from confounding the results, our survey period concluded on 31 March 2012 (just before the launch of the 1940 census). That is, the results presented in this article are before the release of the US 1940 census.
As well, genealogy tends to be a seasonal endeavour (primarily because it is an indoor activity). People will often put aside their family research during warm weather (the summer) and during major family holidays (such as Christmas). As a result, traffic to genealogy websites tends to drop during the summer and over the Christmas holidays. Our survey began on 1 January 2012 and ended on 31 March 2012 to make sure the survey results were not impacted by these seasonal factors.
Global – This is a global study. It does not focus on any specific region or country. It does, however identify differences in growth rates across countries.
Below are the results from the GenealogyInTime Magazine study:
How Stable is Genealogy?
Stability is always an important consideration in any field of endeavour. This essentially means do genealogy websites having staying power on the internet? As it turns out, genealogy websites tend to be fairly stable. We focussed on the top 25 genealogy websites because these tend to be the more established names, as shown in the table below (this ranking is effective as of 31 March 2012).