Hidden Words Behind the Most Upvoted Websites on Product Hunt

By Haktan Suren, PhD
In Bestof
Nov 28th, 2016

What makes a website go viral on Product Hunt?

There is some data under the hood that is rather surprising.

But before we get there, let me start at the beginning…

I was chatting with a good friend of mine – who just so happens to be a 16-year marketing expert – about how to successfully launch your product.

I will call him Mr. X throughout this article to respect his anonymity. After a brilliant 2 hour mastermind, we made a couple of important realizations that I think you’ll find valuable.

Emoji in Product Hunt

Popular products in Product Hunt using emojis

So… I asked Mr. X to help me write a description for one of my tools that I was planning to promote. He asked me about the features and benefits, and what makes my tool unique…

Then he sent me a striking screenshot from a Product Hunt email, listing most-popular items of that day along with their tagline descriptions.

Mr. X said:

“Notice these Product Hunt descriptions? ALL of them have emojis…”

Hmm… interesting! I didn’t notice.

And to be honest, I have always found the emojis a little bit childish (call me an old-fashion!), but… he was RIGHT!

After a little bit of digging, we realized that the Product Hunt team was adding these emojis into the daily email – and not the original submitter, but that set me off onto a data analysis journey to uncover what makes the top websites on Product Hunt so popular.

(If you’re wondering about the emojis… 5.9% of the websites in Product Hunt with more than 25 upvotes contain at least one emoji. Not as high as I originally assumed.)

What are the key factors to getting noticed on Product Hunt?

Mr. X knows my passion about data science and big data analysis. So he gave me a challenge that I accepted without any hesitation…

“Want to help me help you write awesome descriptions? Make a list of the TOP upvoted sites on Product Hunt, give me the title, description, number of upvotes, and make sure to include the emojis…

…then make a list of the top words and top 2 and 3 word combinations.”

Of course, I took the offer and did some data mining based on over 1,000 popular websites on Product Hunt.

Here are the results…

The Majority of Websites Had Less Than 50 Upvotes

I started analyzing websites that had a vote count ranging from 1 to little bit over 2250.

The majority of the websites (~51%) had upvotes between 1 and 50. And the rest is pretty much normally distributed.

Nothing too shocking so far…


ProductHunt Products by Vote

Tech is the most upvoted category (48% of all websites fell in the “Tech” category):


ProductHunt Products by Category

The biggest shock so far? 

The “Podcast” category had the second most upvotes (~34%). Seems like podcasters have a lot of supporters 🙂

Deep Data Analysis of the Top-Hunted Websites

I performed the rest of the analysis on the websites that had at least 25+ upvotes to get a better and more accurate picture.

Based on this, we were able to keep ~93% of the products tagged by “Tech”… and that is the category we were interested in most anyway!

“Create” is the most frequently used word in top-upvoted products…

I performed data-mining on top upvoted products with 25 or more upvotes (575 out of 1,000 had >= 25 upvotes) and found that “create” is the most popular word used in tagline description of the tools.

Here are the Top 15 single words:

  1. Create
  2. App
  3. Get
  4. Web
  5. One
  6. Best
  7. Way
  8. Free
  9. Tool
  10. Video
  11. Curated
  12. Tools
  13. Bot
  14. Email
  15. Find

Then I ran further data analysis to discover the two and three consecutive word combinations to see if we can figure out what phrases were most popular. Again, I focused my analysis on the top upvoted websites with 25+ upvotes.

The Top 15 two-word combinations are:

  1. Way to
  2. For your
  3. The best
  4. From the
  5. To your
  6. From your
  7. For the
  8. Of the
  9. The world
  10. A simple
  11. On your
  12. With a
  13. App for
  14. In one
  15. How to

The Top 15 three-word combinations are:

  1. The world’s (gotta improve my algorithm – since this is not exactly 3-words!)
  2. Best way to
  3. In one place
  4. Curated directory of
  5. The easiest way
  6. The best way
  7. Easiest way to
  8. World s first
  9. Curated list of
  10. Discover the best
  11. Around the world
  12. The one where
  13. Insights from your
  14. And listen to
  15. On web and

I have generated the tag cloud images below for each category, please check them to get more word list.     

Pay Attention to your Thumbnail Images!

I downloaded the thumbnail images of all the products to see if there is any relationship using different media types as a thumbnail image.

Would an animated image have any effect on getting more upvotes for the given website?

I checked the mime type of every images and compared it with the vote numbers. As it is expected, I found a strong correlation (~0.3) between the vote and image type. That means… image type DO matters! And on another note, one-fourth of the top upvoted websites use animated GIFs as their thumbnail image. That’s really incredible!

Best products use animated images on product hunt

So the image type actually matters in addition to the other factors listed above.

What is the Best Thumbnail Color?

Well, I did some basic data mining, so why not some image processing to analyze the thumbnail images!

I used this wonderful open-source pipeline tool called “color-extactor” to extract the most representative colors from the thumbnail images. Then I compared each color whether it is closer to blue, red, green, yellow, orange, white or black by using another awesome tool called “php-color-difference” from GitHub. I set the max limit of colors to extract from the images to three.

As a result, I found 28% of the all images use “bluish” colors as their main color. And “reddish” colors is coming in at a close second with 24%.

Here are the top colors from the top upvoted websites with 25+ upvotes:

  1. Bluish (27.83%)
  2. Reddish (24.17%)
  3. Whiteish (18.43%)
  4. Greenish (8.87%)
  5. Orangeish (8.35%)
  6. Yellowish (8.17%)
  7. Blackish (3.65%)

Some examples from thumbnails that are grouped by color-ish. Some of them might not look accurate, mainly because they are GIF and it is the first picture captured from the image sequences.








In conclusion, If you are going to promote a new tool (or product), consider following the steps below.

  1. “Create”, “app”, “get”, “web”, “way to”, “the best”, “the world’s” are the top words and word combinations to use in your Product Hunt Description
  2. Use an animated GIF for your thumbnail image.
  3. Use bluish or reddish colors as your main color on your product image andthumbnails.

Please comment below if you find this post useful at all to motivate me continue writing. 🙂 I’d love your feedback!

PS: I would like to thank my friend Mr.X helping me write and review this post.

About the Author

Haktan Suren, PhD
- Webguru, Programmer, Web developer, and Father :)

9 Responses to “Hidden Words Behind the Most Upvoted Websites on Product Hunt”

  1. Johnny says:

    Great post with helpful details, I guess it might also apply to other areas.

  2. Johnny says:

    I would suggest put date time for each of your posts for readers

  3. Honza says:

    Great job, Haktan!
    I’ve to try it 🙂

  4. WysisWyg says:

    Haktan Suren, It’s great to know… Now they know,the seekers…

  5. Joe says:

    Enjoyed reading this post. Great content to keep in mind. Thank you for writing and sharing.

  6. Tc says:

    Quite interesting insight.
    Well done

  7. Viswathika says:

    This is the of Big data analysis. Amazing.
    If a product maker used your !deas, her product will be viral one or at least get the good reputations.
    Really good and useful article.
    I keep all these points in my mind while I am submit a product there producthunt.com

  8. […] on Socials to land during the day on weekdays.  Plus, after reading Haktan Suren, PhD  post about launching on Product Hunt on his Twitter, I worked on the other little things, including getting an Upworker to great a […]

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