Search engines like Google scour the web to figure out how to rank content. Measurement firms like comScore sample users to estimate traffic to web sites. But what if you want to know which of some 2000 technologies a web site is using? And, what if you want to know what the tech trends are across the 130 million largest sites on the web today?
You could just dig through the source code for each site you’re interested in to answer these questions piecemeal, or you could repurpose other web site profilers designed for search engine optimization or other jobs.
Or, you could use BuiltWith.
Organized, easily accessible data about the profile of any one web site can be valuable for, say, someone trying to sell cloud hosting or ad network products to new clients — especially for figuring things out like which clients are already using competitors’ technology.
But even more interesting are the big-picture trends that BuiltWith reveals. By aggregating the data about usage across all of the sites that it tracks, BuiltWith can show which web technologies are gaining or losing in usage across the web. Some examples:
Adobe’s Shockwave Flash embed technology has been seeing steady declines over the past couple years. Among the 10,000 largest sites on the web, its market share has declined from 13.71% in January of 2011 to 9.88% last month.
What about Facebook’s efforts to introduce its widgets and other platform services around the web? BuiltWith shows that the Facebook SDK is now being used by 747,588 sites around the web, and grew by 0.29% between February 5 and 12. Facebook for Websites, which includes social plugins, along with its Facebook Connect authentication service and other platform features, now has 1.35 million sites on board; it grew by 0.14% over the same period. The Like button itself is used by 1.12 million sites. Check out the full list on the BuiltWith Trends site.
How is BuiltWith monetizing all this publicly available but painful-to-aggregate data? Through a professional version called Trends Pro that lets people buy access to run custom reports across its database. Each report comes with further details on each included site, such as available contact information, and includes options to export to spreadsheets or into your company’s customer relationship manager software.
At this point, Brewer is focused on fine-tuning Trends Pro, and building out a team who can help him sell the product. He says he hasn’t ruled out taking funding but for the time being wants to see how far he can get by bootstrapping. Considering how much he’s managed to build over the last five years, I’d bet he’ll make it pretty far.