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Is Genealogy Growing?

To determine if genealogy is growing, we applied the same methodology to the data collected the previous year in 2012 for our article Top 100 Most Popular Genealogy Websites of 2012. This allows us to determine if the field of genealogy has grown between 2012 and 2013. The results are shown in the table below.

growth of genealogy
This table shows genealogy is growing at a healthy clip.

The table above shows genealogy grew a healthy 20% over the past year. In fact, the number of daily visitors to all genealogy websites has grown from about 250,000 visitors a day at the beginning of 2012 to about 300,000 visitors a day at the beginning of 2013. Part of this growth may have been due to the release of the US 1940 census, which was fully indexed by the Fall of 2012, and by the release of the Canada 1921 census in the Summer of 2013. The release of a major census always increases interest in genealogy.


Reconciling to Ancestry.com Numbers

Our estimate of 2.1 million active genealogists can be reconciled as follows: according to financial statements filed by Ancestry.com, it had approximately 2.0 million total subscribers to Ancestry.com branded websites during the same period as we conducted our analysis. Ancestry works on the negative pledge approach for its subscriptions, meaning subscriptions are automatically renewed unless a person actively cancels them. Assuming that 90% of the subscribers are active users (in other words, 10% of people forget to cancel their subscriptions immediately), this would imply that Ancestry has 1.8 million active genealogists.

The 1.8 million active Ancestry users number is consistent with our estimate of 2.1 million active genealogists. Most active genealogists have a subscription to Ancestry (Ancestry.com, Ancestry.co.uk, Ancestry.ca, Ancestry.com.au, etc.). In fact, our estimate would suggest that about 85% of active genealogists subscribe to one of the Ancestry branded websites.

Want to know the Alexa ranking of a website? The free (and very popular) Genealogy Toolbar has a built-in Alexa meter that will tell you the ranking of any website you visit on the internet. It also conveniently incorporates the Top 100 List so you don’t have to bother bookmarking any new/interesting genealogy websites you find on the list.


A Summary of the Major Takeaways

Here is a summary of the major findings of GenealogyInTime Magazine’s research:

• There are different levels of interest in genealogy. When discussing the popularity of genealogy, it is important to specify what interest level is being considered.

• The core interest group consists of those that actually conduct ancestral research. Estimates suggest about 2.1 million people currently conduct ancestral research in the major English speaking countries. This is perhaps smaller than some previous surveys would suggest.

• Only about 1 out of 40 people need to research their ancestors. This puts an upper limit on the size of the genealogy marketplace at around 11.2 million people.

• The field of genealogy grew a healthy 20% from 2012 to 2013. Daily traffic to all genealogy websites averaged some 300,000 visitors a day at the beginning of 2013.

• Internet traffic is not evenly distributed. The top 10 genealogy websites get more than 1/3 of all genealogy traffic.

• The largest genealogy website (Ancestry.com) dominates the field. It gets over 10% of all genealogy internet traffic.

We will continue to monitor the popularity of genealogy and report back on its growth. Certainly, our research would suggest there is ample room for genealogy to grow.

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Originally published December 2013

Further Resources

Top 100 Genealogy Websites for 2013

Why Genealogy is Important

A Guide to Performing Online Genealogy Searches

50 Best Genealogy Brickwall Solutions

Highlights of GenealogyInTime Magazine