Upworthy Proves That Great Content Smacks the Competition

If you have not heard of UpWorthy, it is time you checked out the web’s newest young gun.  In just a few short months, this site has proven that great content drives numbers when it comes to website traffic.  Without memes, top 10 lists or vapid filler, UpWorthy is outdistancing long-standing competitors such as BuzzFeed that specialize in “silly” content.

Socially conscious and serious about bringing useful and rich content to the world, UpWorthy has lived up to its name.  The site has featured some remarkable pieces that often deal with social ills, life lessons and other deep-thinking items. Examining what makes this site tick is a profitable lesson in how following the simple, basic rules can still gain you a large following in a short time.

UpWorthy’s Headlines:  Memorable and Meaningful

Memorable headlines are a key to getting noticed in competitive Internet niches.  UpWorthy is so serious about their headlines, editors must come up with 25 alternative headlines for each piece that is published.  UpWorthy believes that the difference between 1,000 and 1 million followers can rest with a single headline, so copywriters are encouraged to be creative without being too “cute.”

It is also important to catch reader interest before introducing a “boring” subject.  Headlines help you do this.  If you are going to write an article containing lots of facts and figures, try framing the article in the form of a surprising or controversial headline.  “Women Are Sexier Than Men” would probably bring you more readers than “Fifty Percent of Women Have High Hormone Levels.”  There is a difference in the framing of these two titles that causes one to generate interest over the other.  It is also important to avoid truly controversial topics in social media platforms.  Instead, the mildly controversial or interesting topics are the ones that tend to generate traffic.  UpWorthy’s rule:  no topic should upset a middle-aged mom.

UpWorthy also “sweats the small stuff” with A/B testing, monitoring user behavior, buffer testing, and running conversion optimization tests.  However, UpWorthy’s most important rule is very simple:  the website wants readers, not page views.

Page views are a quick way to determine website traffic, and as such they have value. However, it is important to remember that what page views tell you is how many people visit your site, not how many people engage with it.  Compare page views to bounce rates and you might be in for an unpleasant shock.
UpWorthy uses many techniques to improve user experience.  Given the wild success of their site, this is a lesson we can all learn and apply to our own websites.