How to Build a Top 1000 Site in 4 Steps

website trafficSo, you’ve gone through our Website Traffic 101 course, you think you’ve got this traffic building stuff down pat, and you want to build a top 1000 site?

I’ll show you how in 4 easy steps in just a minute, but first let’s examine what a “top 1000″ site is exactly.

How to Measure a Top 1000 Site?

Just what defines a top 1000 site, anyway? Let’s assume we’re measuring sites by the number of pageviews they receive each month.

The only problem is, sites don’t readily publish their traffic statistics for the world to see. Lucky for us, there are a couple of other ways we can approximate a site’s traffic.

There are a few companies out there (most notably Alexa and Compete) which create estimates of a site’s traffic by using thousands of browser toolbars installed by people around the world.

These toolbars tell Alexa, Compete and others whenever a toolbar user visits a site. The companies use that anonymous data to estimate the popularity of all sites on the web relative to one-another. It isn’t perfect, but it does give us some decent indication of how popular a site is.

How Much Traffic Does it Take?

Alexa publishes a list of the top 500 most popular sites in the world, and sub-lists of the top 100 most popular sites in many countries. Google, of course is #1 in the world, and in most places around the globe.

How much traffic does it take to crack the top 1000? We can estimate what it takes by using Alexa and Compete both.

First, let’s take the #500 most popular site according to Alexa. That is currently the site (People magazine online). If we plug that site into Compete, it tells us has approximately 9.6M visits per month (or about 320k visits per day).

How much traffic does the #1000 site receive? You could plug a bunch of guesses into Alexa until you find the #1000 site (they don’t publish a list that long currently). Figure that the #1000 site probably receives more than half of the visits of the #500 site, so maybe 160k visits per day.

This isn’t an exact science by any means, but I wanted to give you a ballpark idea of just how big the most popular sites are.

Now that you know how much traffic we’re talking about, here are 4 “easy” steps to build a top 1000 site.

Step 1: Choose the Right Format

You won’t find a lot of blogs on the list, and you definitely won’t find any static (non updated) sites.

The biggest sites in the world tend to be one of the following types: Social Networks (Facebook, MySpace), User-Contributed Content (YouTube, Flickr,, Utilities (URL Shorteners, Search/Portals, Photo Sharing) and Big Content Sites (People Magazine, Hulu).

Step 2: Pick A Popular Topic

News, politics, technology, porn, dating and celebrity gossip all do well.

Step 3: (Optional) Be From China or Run a Giant Company

If China keeps putting more and more people online, most of the top 1000 sites will eventually be Chinese.

Oh, and if you already run a huge company (think Walmart or CNN), you’ll have a big chance of cracking the top 1000 when you put up your website.

Step 4: (Most Important) Work Your Ass Off

Have you read stories about the people behind some of these big sites? Most of them worked their asses off for at least two or three years before hitting the “big time.”

Seriously. To build a top 1000 site, you almost certainly have to live, breathe, eat and sleep with your site. Building your site has to take over your life temporarily and you have to tell the world about it every day.

It also helps to have deep pockets. If you can hire a staff of thousands to build your site, you’ll have an easier time cracking the top 1000.

All Kidding Aside, You Can Build a Massively Popular Site

So, maybe you can’t crack the top 1000 without deep pockets, a lot of luck and the power of a Fortune 500 brand behind you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build a fairly huge site anyway.

Cracking the top 10,000 isn’t unheard of for lots of blogs that are run by just one person or a small team. Take a look at how many of the Technorati Top 100 are ranked in the top 10,000 of Alexa, for example.

There’s no doubt that it takes dedication and hard work (and yes, the right topic) to build a really popular site. Your goals might not be so grand, however. In either case, my goal for Think Traffic is to help you get there.

That concludes our Website Traffic 101 series. I hope you enjoyed it! Sign up for free updates from Think Traffic to get the latest tips about building a high traffic website or blog.

Published by

Corbett Barr

Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “How to Build a Top 1000 Site in 4 Steps”

  1. Working your ass off, it’s the only way. I haven’t been working on my blog for JUST 8 days (At least, no new blogposts) and it immediately results in less visitors.

    Hard lessons are learned this way. It takes an insane amount of work (and some luck/skill in choosing the right niche) in order for you blog to become a success. Take my blog for instance. It’s not the most widely sought after topic online (Zen and minimalism) but it does get it’s fair share of traffic.

    Will my blog ever become as big as say, Zenhabits (I’m not trying to copy Leo in any way mind you..) Most likely not. The niche is a bit to small for that. Is my advice sound? Most defiantly, but it’s also at times a bit personal. To be exact it’s about my view on things.

    Almost all blogs are one persons view on the world, make your view interesting and you will become a success. Be honest to yourself: a blog needs time to grow, you’ll be blogging for years to get on top. Do you want it enough to keep blogging even if your visitor numbers are nothing near spectacular? I’ve been blogging for little over a year now (Martch 13th) and so far I have 200 subscribers and maybe 3k visits, a month! I’ve spent countless hours writing and promoting.

    It’s a slow process, but one step will follow the next and in time you’ll be where you want to be. As long as you’re prepared to take all those tiny steps.

    Good Luck!

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