What makes Matt Drudge's website so successful? His 14-year-old news aggregator is a veritable giant in the online media world. It's the second biggest driver of web traffic to U.S news sites behind Google and attracts 12 to 14 million unique visitors every month. On Monday, The New York Times' David Carr tried to explain the Drudge Report's appeal, which sparked a discussion on the conservative newshound's resilient staying power. Here's how Carr and others pin down the website's success:
- Minimalism "In the last 14 years, there have been no big redesigns, no big rollout of new features and no staffing up to provide original content," writes Carr. The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash says that kind of simplicity is key. “Everyone else who tries to knock him off complicates that. There’s no tabs. There’s no jumps. There’s hardly any clutter, even if he now runs more headlines than he used to. He’s secure enough in the formula that he’s never changed it.”
- News Judgement Drudge is "the best wire editor on the planet," The Atlantic Wire's editor Gabriel Snyder told Carr. "He can look into a huge stream of news, find the hot story and put an irresistible headline on it.”
- Confidence "He doesn’t change what works," writes Ernie Smith at Short Form Blog, calling the Drudge Report the "Craigslist of journalism." That kind of faith in the virtues of the site, builds trust in its readership, says ZDNet's David Gewirtz. "Every time a site redesigns, puts up a wall, adds a registration layer, moves things around, and otherwise gets in the way of the expected user experience, readers leave," he writes. "Many sites never had a perfect formula to begin with, so they keep tinkering, hoping to find what works... Drudge stumbled on the perfect formula early on."
- Speed "The Drudge Report is almost always a rocket-fast load," writes Gewirtz. "You’re never making a time investment to check Drudge, so many news junkies like me feel confident that a single quick click will result in instant chewy, newsy goodness."
- It Doesn't Trap You "A big part of the reason he is such an effective aggregator for both audiences and news sites is that he actually acts like one," writes Carr. "Behemoth aggregators like Yahoo News and The Huffington Post have become more like fun houses that are easy to get into and tough to get out of. Most of the time, the summary of an article is all people want, and surfers don’t bother to click on the link. But on The Drudge Report, there is just a delicious but bare-bones headline, there for the clicking. It’s the opposite of sticky, which means his links actually kick up significant traffic for other sites."