Listicles are conquering the web. And that is exactly how Clark Benson, CEO and founder of Ranker would have it. Ranker, a website and platform for creating listicles then ranking their contents, now receives 6 million votes per month, and has 17.5 million monthly unique visitors and growing.
“Lists obviously are huge on the web today, but they’ve always been huge, pre-Internet as well. Magazines thrived on listicles,” said Benson. “Lists are a proven traffic driver because we like to consume in a list format.”
“Ranker at its core is crowdsourced rankings of everything,” said Benson. “The crowd weighs in on any number of answers, from best NFL quarterback of all time, hottest redhead celebrities, to healthiest foods.”
Ranker listicles start with the company’s editorial staff, a method Benson said is important for maintaining efficiency and getting things rolling. Where the listicle goes from there is entirely up to the crowd. The platform allows users to re-rank lists, giving thumbs up or thumbs down to certain bullet points. The platform is constantly re-calculating the lists order.
The theory is “that the wisdom of crowds will provide a better answer than any one person’s opinion,” said Benson. But, “Ranker at its core is really a data collection machine. We’ve never viewed this as just a publishing company.”
And the data Ranker is collecting shows some interesting patterns. Visitors typically vote on 21 items per session and some 40 percent of people who vote on one list will go onto vote in completely different categories. This curious discovery gives the platform an opportunity to cross correlate and show “people who like ‘x,’ also like ‘y,” said Benson. Such insights are enormously valuable for targeting advertising and content. What’s more, if a list on Ranker receives at least 500 votes the platform also then will break down votes by demographics, showing for example how women are voting, how millennial are voting, how East Coast vs. West Coast users are voting.
The growing popularity of listicles is part of a movement to deliver information more efficiently and via the crowd. As the web continues to overflow with content, discovery of opinionated, quality and to-the-point information is becoming increasingly valuable. “The world is moving rapidly towards wanting to give people answers as fast as possible,” said Benson. And “a lot of answers search engines are giving are more opinion based now.” Google Search, which in many ways is a listicle of web content, is increasingly incorporating the opinions of the crowd on restaurants and services via Google reviews.
Given the matter-of-fact nature of Ranker, it is not surpising that most of it’s traffic comes from search engines, that is most traffic comes from people searching out answers. “We tend to do really well with searches that contain the words lists or best,” said Benson.
Ultimately, Ranker wants to be the go-to site for rankings globally. The site has been designed to translate lists into other languages. Meaning a list’s ranking could truly reflect world opinion. “We want to be the Wikipedia of rankings and we won’t be truly there until we have everything translated,” said Benson.