Something had to change. In 2022, we focused on things we were good at: expanding our catalog and our content (The Report). And with the help of an unexpected ally, TikTok, we crawled our way back up: in November 2022, we reached 100% year-over-year growth.
As Class Central turns 11, I reflect on our 2022. This site started out as a side project that I built for myself and launched over Thanksgiving weekend back in 2011.
In 2022, Class Central touched 3 million registered users, expanded its catalog to over 100,000 courses, and published more than 300 articles. Keep reading to learn more about how our year went.
In our 11th year, we added as many courses to our catalog as we had in the entire prior decade since founding Class Central. We made major strides in our catalog expansion project in 2021, and it further accelerated in 2022.
Before that, we were focused mostly on free or free-to-audit courses taught by universities. The pandemic provided us with additional resources, allowing us to expand our team and really live up to our tagline: “Find the best courses, wherever they exist”.
Something interesting is that the number of learners who search directly on Class Central doubled in 2022. It went from 5% to 10%.
In 2021, we published 2–3 articles a week. Unfortunately, the Google algorithm doesn’t reward quality enough. That said, it does reward quantity.
We knew we had to increase our publication volume, but we also knew that as a team of learners ourselves, we do our best work when we do it for learners and not algorithms. We’re proud of the quality of The Report, and we didn’t want to compromise that.
So far, we’ve published 70 BCGs, and they’ve received 400,000+ views. They also help enhance our subject pages, where we highlight our top picks — for instance, here’s the web development subject page.
With BCGs, regular article updates, and other strategies, we’ve increased our publication volume to 5–6 articles per week. This has resulted in The Report going from 3 million views in 2021 to 5 million views in 2022.
Class Central Classroom
In 2021, we began curatingYouTube playlists and encapsulated them into a “Classroom” experience: learners can now watch videos directly on Class Central, automatically tracking and saving their progress.
In Class Central lingo, we call them YTCs or YouTube Courses. In 2022, we reached almost 11,000 YTCs. Tens of thousands of learners use Classroom every month.
As I mentioned before, in 2022 we focused our efforts on our catalog and content. So Classroom didn’t get much attention. But I think that with improvements in Classroom features and further YTC curation, we can hope to see over 100,000 learners use Classroom every month.
On January 10, 2022 a TikTok creator published a video telling people about our most popular article: our massive and growing compilation of free certificates. In the video, he asked his users to search “class central certificates” on Google to find the article.
That video led other creators to make similar videos, resulting in a consistent stream of branded searches on Google. By “branded searches” I mean searches for “class central” or a variation of it. We’ve reached almost 100,000 such searches every month, which represents 320% year-over-year increase.
We’re no strangers to virality. But usually, it comes in short bursts and dies down quickly. I think our efforts over the last couple of years improving product, content, and catalog has created a word-of-mouth effect.
More people are familiar with Class Central, and more people are willing to recommend it. And it spilled over from TikTok to Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, Medium, and probably others we don’t even know.
This makes us less susceptible to the whims of the Algorithm, encouraging us to further focus on improving our core product.
We added a hand-drawn sketch made by @kiri to our homepage. It’s a person sitting with their laptop, learning online, I like to think. They kinda look like me around the time I launched Class Central, though Kiri disagrees.
For Diwali and Halloween, we dressed up the character. Not sure if this is/will be our mascot. But we like Duolingo’s friendly owl, and we’ve been looking for our own character. You can expect more experiments like these in 2023!
As the catalog size increases over the last year, the percentage of learners who use the site’s search feature has doubled — from 5% to over 10%. This resulted in over 1 million searches in 2022.
Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.