WordPress has passed 40% market share of all websites, up from 35.4% in January 2020, as measured by W3Techs. These numbers are derived from the Alexa top 10 million websites, along with the Tranco top 1 million list. By W3Techs’ estimates, every two minutes, another top 10m site starts using WordPress.

Among the top 1,000 sites, WordPress’ market share is even higher at 51.8%, and captures a staggering 66.2% for new sites. In tracking the growth rate over the past 10 years, W3Techs shows WordPress sloping steadily upwards.

Matthias Gelbmann, CEO of W3Techs parent company Q-Success, explained the reasons behind this methodology:

The reason why we don’t count all the websites, is because there are so many domains that are unused or used for dubious purposes. We want to exclude the many millions of parked domains, spam sites and sites that simply have no real content. We are convinced that including all trash domains would make our statistics a lot less useful, as millions of them just run some software stack that auto-generates useless content.

In order to measure the “meaningful web,” W3Techs’ methodology excludes sites with default content pages displayed by Apache, Plesk, and cPanel, expired domains, and account suspended pages. It also excludes sites with the default WordPress message (“Hello world! Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!”).

In January, Squarespace overtook Drupal and Wix to become the 4th most popular CMS with 2.5% market share, trailing Joomla (3.4%), Shopify (5.3%), and WordPress (64.3%). Although most open source CMS’s are now in a gradual decline with proprietary competitors rising, WordPress remains a beacon of free software that continues to sustain its incredible growth.

In a time when some projects are abandoning open source principles when convenient for their business models, WordPress’ success has proven that an unwavering commitment to user freedoms does not have to be at odds with a thriving commercial ecosystem. These user freedoms are fiercely protected by the project’s leadership and passionate community of contributors. As a result, WordPress’ GPL licensing now underpins a multi-billion dollar economy of services, hosting companies, and entrepreneurs who have built their livelihoods using WordPress.

Every year I wonder when the project’s growth might slow down, but end up refreshing W3Techs’ site obsessively for a week in anticipation of another major milestone, as WordPress hovered at 39.9%. Naysayers love to claim that hordes of people will stop using WordPress when major, ambitious changes are proposed. But if W3Techs’ growth tracking is any indication, new website creators and those climbing the ranks to the Alexa top 10 million have not yet gotten tired of being greeted by the message: “Hello world! Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!”