Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / Contributor (Getty Images)
TikTok is truly unstoppable: The video-sharing platform just pushed Google aside to become the most popular website in the world, according to web performance and security company Cloudflare’s 2021 Year in Review internet traffic rankings.
TikTok cracked Cloudflare’s list of top 10 sites last year, coming in at seventh in popularity behind the .coms for Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix and Amazon. For 2021, the order of that list is largely unchanged—Amazon jumped up one slot, switching places with Netflix—aside from TikTok’s surge to the top.
In a blog post, Cloudflare noted that comparing the numbers between the two years could yield potentially misleading results, since the service only culled data from September to December in 2020 (compared to all 12 months being accounted for in 2021). According to Cloudflare, TikTok first peaked in the global traffic rankings on Feb. 17, 2021, followed by a few more days in March and June and then, finally, a more permanent stay at the top beginning in late August.
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The app’s popularity has surged during the pandemic; while it initially attracted a teenaged audience set on coordinating lip sync and dance videos, TikTok has since piqued the curiosity of users of all ages and demographics, who flock to the app for its cooking hacks, memes, and spirituality content, to name just a few topics.
While Cloudflare is only offering up the raw data here and declines to provide any analysis of the trends, it seems telling that TikTok—still a relative newcomer in 2020—shot to the top to decisively beat out Google.com and all of its ancillary services, including Maps, Translate, Photos, Flights, Books, News, and others. It’s also noteworthy that TikTok—whose parent company, ByteDance, is based in China—is now the only non-American site to occupy a slot in the top 10.
TikTok’s surge in popularity has not gone unnoticed among advertisers: On the same day Cloudflare released its list of rankings, the New York Times reported that retailers now see the platform as a “holy grail of marketing,” as they seek to reach coveted influencers and Gen Z eyeballs amid cable television’s continued decline in popularity. According to the Times, investing in ad space on TikTok seems to have been a safe bet, with the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag now having been viewed more than 7 billion times on the app.
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“The growth that we’ve seen is insane,” Krishna Subramanian, a founder of the influencer marketing firm Captiv8, told the Times. “Brands have moved from just testing out TikTok to making it a budget line item or creating dedicated campaigns for TikTok specifically.”