Sunday, May 9, 2010

Religion Interest on the Internet today

The internet is a major form of communication for religions in America. Every denomination has some sort of presence on the internet. Whether the discussions explain beliefs, inform people about events or if people simply have questions about the religion, this research discusses current trends on the internet for several branches of Christianity including the LDS church. The four largest search engines in the world are Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com respectively. These make up 80 percent of all traffic on the internet today. Below is a graph that explains how many times the following words have been entered into all four search engines. So anyone who has an internet connection in the world and types in a specific word is recorded and collected by Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com. People who inquire on search engines have any number of reasons when they do their searching. They may be members of the denomination or completely hate the subject they are looking up. But the level of interest is the same; they all are purposefully searching something about the denomination and are trying to learn something.


The word “Catholic” had the most searches on the internet with the word LDS in second place. All other denominations had significantly lower inquires for the month of February. For example, the word “Baptist” was typed in a search bar only 64,438 times in February. It’s important to know these inquiries are only for these exact phrases or words. So the key word “Lutheran” is only one of thousands of keywords people type in when searching about Lutherans. Many people type in different keywords like “Martin Luther” or the “ELCA church” when searching about religion. However, I chose what I thought were the most popular and direct keywords for a religion to show these trends clearly.



 
The main point to make in this research is to put these numbers in perspective for the size and commonality of these denominations. For example, the Catholic church has over 1 billion people in the world as members but only 488 thousand inquires have been made in Feb. Compared to the 13 million members of the LDS church in the world, 400 thousand inquires were made about LDS. Do Catholics simply have less access to internet than LDS members or is there just more interest in the LDS religion? The same comparison is made to Lutherans. Lutherans boast over 100 million members worldwide but has some of the lowest interest in the religion on internet search engines.

 
 
Another way to learn about interest in religions is to look at the popularity of denominations’ websites. The graph below shows the amount of traffic websites receive compared to each other in the United States. The most popular website on the internet is google.com. It is ranked number one because it is the most visited website on the internet. Alexa.com monitors the popularity of the largest 100,000 websites on the internet by measuring the amount of visitors they receive. For example, SBC.org is more popular than PCUSA.org because its rank is lower. It receives slightly more visitors to the website than PCUSA.org. According to some of the largest denominations in the United States, LDS.org is the most popular and ranks the 548 most visited website on the internet. It is even more popular than the whitehouse.gov website. What does this say about the content on the websites themselves? Is there greater demand for the information than other church websites? For example, the LDS family search genealogy website is amost twice as popular as the Vatican website. Does this mean that genealogy is more popular than what the pope and Vatican says? Not necessarily, but these comparisons can be made according to the data provided by Alexa.com. For example, the second largest denomination in America – the Southern Baptist Church, with 16 million members, has the least trafficked website or has the least monthly visitors compared to the 10 largest churches in America. Do Baptists simply not visit their church website as often as Mormons visit theirs?

 
The same comparisons are made worldwide with the graph below. LDS.org being one of the most popular and visited religious websites in the world.

51 comments:

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Thank you for the useful stats!

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