How American is Your Country?

This post was supposed to be a simple comparison of the top 10 most visited websites of some selected countries. However, I ended-up finding some very interesting data that I thought it’s worth to share with everyone. 

I think we all agree that the US is considered the leader and the pioneer in adapting to new internet startups and new social networks. I also believe that other countries will eventually converge and follow whats happening in the states.
My question is “Who are the fast followers?”. In other words  “which countries currently have the closest internet behavior to the US?”.
I made a comparison based on the ranking of the most visited websites. I chose the following websites to make the comparison:

I used to check the rankings of the most visited websites in the following countries:

The raw data looks like this:

Now if you plot the data you’ll get this ugly chart. This chart shows how the rankings of social networks varies across different countries. For example Pinterest ranked 17 in the US, in Kuwait it ranked 219 !!

Again, the question I was trying to answer here is “which country has the closest internet behavior to the US?” To answer this question I calculated the Standard Deviation of the rankings of each website in these countries using USA as the base point (finally the CFA came handy).

Don’t worry, you don’t need to know what does Standard Deviation means, just remember that “the lower the number, the closer the country is to the US”.

As expected, UK was the closest to the US. That means UK is one of the early adaptors, and other european countries follow. Spain comes second, slightly behind UK  (interesting to see how language barrier is getting less significant).  Japan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are lagging what’s happening in new the world. I think we can also conclude that there is a huge language barrier to enter the Japanese market, which gives enough time for copycats to take advantage.

After crunching some numbers I found some other interesting insights:

1) The most visited website: I was shocked to find that Facebook was visited more than Google in a number of developing countries such as UAE, Uruguay and Jordan!!! I’m also shocked to find that Yahoo is still out-preforming Google in Japan!!!

2) Twitter and Politics: There is a positive correlation between political turbulence and the ranking of Twitter. Twitter made it to the top 10 lists of all featured Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Jordan) + Spain.

3) Linkedin, I’m impressed with your performance: I was amazed how well Linkedin performed in most listed countries. Linkedin made it to the top 15 list of most countries, and it even surpassed Twitter in some countries such as Sweden and Hong Kong.

4) Pinterest replaced Flicker: Pinterest already replaced Flicker in 5 featured countries. And it’s obvious that this shift will happen soon in the UK and Spain.

I think Pinterest is blocked in Saudi Arabia, our readers in Saudi Arabia please confirm if this true? Another interesting finding here is that Pinterest ranked 190 in Japan!! I was totally misled with the US$100M Rakuten investment in Pinterest.

5) Tumblr is eating WordPress: Tumblr already passed WordPress in the US. We already agreed that the US is the future, then you can see how Tumblr will soon surpass WordPress in UK and France. Interestingly, Tumblr is doing a good job in some laggard markets such as Saudi Arabia.

At the end, I want to advice all Kuwaiti startups (especially startups focused on women such as to be fully prepared to use Pinterest as one of their main marketing channels. Also Tumblr is getting more important, but probably more in a personal level than business.

Eid Mubark everyone, talk to you soon 🙂

Note: The data numbers only cover traffic from desktop PCs. The data doesn’t cover traffic comes from mobile. However, the data still can be used as proxy of the total traffic in these websites.

Leave a comment


  1. Mohammad MJ

     /  August 18, 2012

    Very interesting! I’m curious about your choice of websites to compare though. Is it mainly websites that you believe are directly or indirectly linked to marketing prospects for startups for example?

    I never hit pinterest even once. Should I really check it out?

    • No, not because they are related to marketing, but because they are platforms (social networks) that can be used globally regardless of your location. For example, when you look to the full ranking list you’ll find newspapers and local blogs in most of the countries. I can’t use websites such as or, these websites are created for their local audience. On the other hand, social networks are created for everyone, such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

      Pinterest is interesting, but latest studies shows that 85% of users are women. Its a social network of things and products. Check it out, it’s interesting, but it’s not built for u 😉

  2. Ahmad

     /  August 18, 2012

    I’m a recent follower of your blog, which I think is really great. We need more of its kind in Kuwait.

    I just wanted to note that not necessarily ‘everything American is good’ when it comes to startups. For example, the reason why Japan hasn’t jumped on the Facebook bandwagon is because of social and cultural norms pertaining to privacy. You can easily find many articles talking about this if you just Google it. 🙂

    Again, most of the deviation is accounted for by cultural differences.

    Keep up the good work, and I wish you the best in blogging, and life in general. 🙂

    • Hi Ahmed,

      You raised a very interesting point here, which is “the reason why Japan hasn’t jumped on the Facebook bandwagon is because of social and cultural norms”. I think you have a point here regarding cultural differences, but I don’t think it applies to Facebook situation in Japan. Facebook is still ranked much higher (No#6) than the localized Japanse version of Facebook, which is called (No#21). But, you are right, the study I did ignores the aspect of having cultural or language barriers that might effect the findings. I also ignored the fact of having a local competitor, which is the case with Hong Kong.

      Also it’s true what you said, “not all American startups are good”. But, the post was focused only in Social Networks + Google + Yahoo. And historical data proves that Social Networks usually starts from the US and the rest of the world either copy and create their localized version (Facebook of Russia called or follow. Maybe the only exception is in China, which is a mix of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

      I’m really happy that you liked the blog and very very very happy to see Kuwaiti guys that have the same interest as I do. Please keep being active in this blog, this is how we can get the most of it. You said “we need more blogs like this”, I’ll say we need more guys like you 🙂


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