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How you can rank on the first page of HackerNews and GrowthHackers
By Angelina Fomina on Friday, June 19, 2015
How To Guides
We analyzed trending posts on GrowthHackers, Inbound and HackerNews, so you have a bit of a data driven
answer behind which posts work and which don't. We also analyzed the top authors and sources for each
website, just in case you want to reach out and personally ask each contributor what their secret sauce
One of the best ways to get the word out about your start-up or to get feedback on an idea is to
engage on forums that your potential user might be hanging out on.
GrowthHackers.com and Inbound.org are two popular communities for sales and marketing. HackerNews
is pretty outstanding for all things start-up and tech, DataTau for all things - surprise - data and
how could I forget StackOverflow - helping programmers copy and paste one answer at a time
Getting out of the start-up, tech and marketing bubble - of course there are countless of other
communities that may be much better for your content. Especially if you have a creative product
or dont mind getting a little bit out-there with your marketing content.
"Come on baby, light my fire" - Jim Morrison
Try this bizarre list of Reddit subreddits, chuckle at the pictures posted on this
Invisible Bicycles subreddit or fit right in by pretending you are a bird on
The Enlightened Bird Man. Here are a few more just for your
entertainment - 4Chan.org, TechSpot, Do It Yourself, Health Boards, BodyBuilding
, and whatever else floats your boat.
To win attention on forums you have to:
- Create amazing, relevant, entertaining or valuable content (Im sure you heard this over
and over again).
- Make yourself relevant and become more than a stranger. Post content that is not self-promotional.
Ask questions, upvote content and leave thought provoking comments. Also, make sure to reach out to
top contributors one-on-one. Long story short - make your name recognizable.
Alright - let's begin sharing the magic.
- Part I - Analyzing the magic behind Inbound.org
- Part II - Whats popular on GrowthHackers.com
- Part III - Key findings from HackerNews
1. Part I - How to post a trending article on Inbound.org
We analyzed 2810 posts from Inbound.org and went as far as three years ago to get all of the posts
that recieved between 30 and 577 votes! Here are some trends from posts that had more than 30 upvotes.
- Most posts have an average of 57 votes and 12 comments.
- 67% of trending posts have no comments or under 7 comments. So dont think your post
if doing poorly just because the comments are not coming in.
- The number of upvotes and comments peaks in January of each year. Even if January is not the
month that received the most engagement, there is always a spike in posts, upvotes and comments right
after the New Year.
The best day to post
- There are slightly more upvotes on Wednesday and Thursday.
- More posts are posted on Monday than any other day.
- Interestingly enough, Saturday and Sunday had the least amount of posts but received the highest
amount of comments.
- If you want both the most upvotes and comments post on Thursday.
Length of headlines
- Posts with 30 upvotes or more had an average of 9 words in their title.
- In theory, if you want a top-rated post aim for 17 words in your title
- Posts with 20 words in their title had the least amount of upvotes.
The optimal recipe for titles
- Start your posts with I, We, Im, Welcome or All. Posts that started with these words had
over 100 upvotes each.
- The numbers 10, 5 and 4 were used the most in the top trending posts.
- Words that were most commonly used in headlines where - How, of, SEO, Your, Marketing,
Google and Content.
- How to and Link building were the two most popular two-word combinations in trending headlines.
- Not surprisingly, Ask me anything and Ask inbound what were the most common multi-word
Commonly used words in top ranked posts
Commonly used pharses in top ranked posts
The most popular content of all times on Inbound.org
And announcing the most popular post on Inbounddun dun dun...
...is of course gossip ;) and about web scraping.
The best contributors
Authors that have the biggest average upvotes, but also post consistently (not just one
random awesome post) are Chris Dyson, Larry Kim and Rand Fishkin.
Sources of the best content
Websites where the most content is posted from are Moz.com, SEOMoz.org, Slideshare.net, Medium.com and
However, if you take the highest performing sources (websites where posts with more than 150 upvotes
came from) you get the following:
Part II - Whats popular on GrowthHackers.com
Moving on to GrowthHackers.com now. We analyzed approximately 700 trending posts over a few months.
- Contrary to my first impression GrowthHackers has lower engagement than Inbound.org
- Trending posts on average get 15 upvotes and 2 comments. So again, dont fret if you dont get that
much engagement on your posts - the exposure is still there!
Does the length of your title matter?
- Aim for titles with 3, 5, 15 or 16 words. Titles of this length had the most upvotes and the highest
engagement (upvotes + comments).
- Title with 20, 23 and 24 words were also high performing but only had 2 - 3 posts each. But who can
really come up with a title that long?
- Interestingly enough, 73% of all of the posts had between 6 and 12 words in the title, with an average
of 9 words per title. They also had the least upvotes and engagement. Could it be because the reader
pays more attention and clicks on posts with shorter and longer titles as they scroll through
Is there an ideal day to post?
- Engagement and upvotes stayed pretty even across all of the days. Tuesday and Thursday had the
highest engagement but really not by much.
- Only 5% of content was posted on the weekend. However, engagement stayed fairly similar on the
weekend compared to during the week. Post on the weekend if you want to break through all of the noise.
Words you should use in your titles
We took all of the post titles and ran them through a text analyzer to check which words and phrases
were the most popular amongst trending posts.
Start your posts with the following words if you want the most votes and engagement:
15% of the titles started with How. However, this didnt result in the highest number of upvotes
and engagement. Can you be more original with your titles?
Starting your post title with a number (other than 15) didnt result in more upvotes and engagement.
Get your post noticed by:
- Offering advice
- Asking for advice or asking questions - What, Why, How
- Telling people what they should do
- Talking about analytics, growth and data
Difference between GrowthHackers and Inbound.org
In comparison to Inbound.org, posts that talk about tools, hacking, SaaS, start-ups and apps tend to
trend better on GrowthHackers than Inbound.org. While posts that do better on Inbound.org mention link
building, marketing, SEO, content and Google.
Top ranking words
Top ranking phrases
Most popular categories
Select one of the categories below to get the most upvotes and engagement on your posts.
During analysis we excluded categories that only had one or two posts in them.
- Must Read
- Early Traction, Marketing Strategy
- User Experience
- Blogging, Content Marketing
- Growth Team
- Growth Hacks
- Customer Development
- Growth Hacks, Mobile, Mobile Apps
- Early Traction
Most popular contributors
Sean Ellis, Lyle McKeany, Jimmy Daly, Madhav Bhandari, Morgan Brown, Violeta Nedkova, Stuart Hall,
Becky Cruze, Lincoln Murphy and Sujan Patel.
Most popular websites
Here is where most of the content comes from:
Part III - Key Findings from HackerNews
If you have a startup chances are you have dreamt of your idea making it to the first page of
HackerNews. So whats the secret sauce? How do some posts rank so well on HackerNews?
What length should the title be?
The shorter the better for HackerNews. Titles with 1 - 3 words and with 16 words outperform
all other titles. However, titles with 4 or 15 words have the least amount of engagement (upvotes +
What is the best first word for your title?
We took all of the trending posts and narrowed down the first words that were most commonly used
in a title. If you want to rank on the first page, start with one of the words below:
What should you post about?
Below are some ideas for posts if you want to rank high on HackerNews:
- Post engaging questions that ask the HN community something (what, how, who)
- Tell people you are looking for something or looking to hire someone
- Talk about the future, the world and time. Mention what happened in a specific year.
- Ask the HN community how to do something specific
- Announce something closing or shutting down
- Talk about something open source
- Mention YC in your post
- Talk about learning, life and people
- Use the word FREE and actually offer something that is free to the HN community
For the most engaging title try including a few of the following words:
- Ask questions how, why, what, etc.
- Make it personal include - you, I, my, and who
- Mention start-up, mobile, app or build
- Include data, web, hiring, new, science, game
Where do the posts come from?
Most of the posts come from extablished sources below. If you want to rank high you have to
compete with the reach that the top publishers already have by building your own audience of
fans that shares your content on HackerNews for you.
Try some of the hacks above and let us know how they turned out in the comments. Have you ever had
a very successful post on GrowthHackers, Inbound or HackerNews? What did you do differently?
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