The Decline of Toronto’s Web King

Tim Shore over at BlogTO jumped all over Toronto.com’s 10th Anniversary announcement yesterday and it sounds like his analysis of the city site’s decline is pretty accurate. BlogTO is part of the Fresh Daily Network and sister site to Vancouver’s  Beyond Robson & Montreal’s Midnight Poutine.

Aahh, Toronto.com. What fun would we have if we didn’t have a site like you to kick around? In fact, part of the reason we started blogTO way back in 2004 was because of the general consensus that existing Toronto web sites sucked – with Toronto.com the most annoying culprit of the bunch.

So with its tenth anniversary upon us we thought it might be fun to take a closer look at Toronto.com. Despite all its detractors it’s still the elephant in the room. It gets more traffic than any other site covering Toronto culture, restaurants and events. The site claimed to reach 1 million unique users in January which would put it ahead of Now Magazine followed by dine.to, Martini Boys, blogTO, Torontoist, Torontolife.com and Eye Weekly.

Despite its longevity and prized domain name, all is not well with Toronto.com. A quick peak at its 5-year trend on Alexa show that its traffic has been on the decline for years but that’s only the the beginning of the story. The emergence of blogs & social media and trends like web 2.0 have been completely overlooked by Toronto.com management. Not a big surprise considering the site is owned by Torstar Media (owner of the Toronto Star newspaper).

The Toronto.com story simply reinforces that domain names are the currency of the Internet. Although Toronto.com is owned by Torstar, its more important to note that they are part of Associated Cities – a network of the most well-known city.com brands online. And the mission of Associated Cities is clear – to provide a single, reliable source allowing advertisers and partners to reach consumers in each market we serve. Thanks a pretty clear message – advertising dollars trump user experience when you have an unbeatable domain name.