For most of us in the online journalism business, writing headlines basically amounts to guesswork. Will people click on this? Are there enough nouns in here for Google to find it? Does this line break look weird? Should I use a question mark? An exclamation point?
For Upworthy, it’s more akin to a science — and not one of those mushy sciences like anthropology or psychology, either. We’re talking straight-up particle physics.
For every article they publish, its writers come up with 25 headline options. They then A/B test the four most promising before settling on a winner.
The result: In just 11 months, with a smallish staff and not much original content, Upworthy has built a sizable audience (8.7 million monthly unique visitors as of last November) for its socially progressive message, plus a Facebook following of more than 1 million fans....