They are called listicles. Some call them list posts. They are so popular, and good at drawing traffic, because they appeal to the human affinity for numbers. Their headlines look like this …
- 21 Ways to Get More Traffic … For Free
- The 7 Scariest Horror Movie Villains
- 5 Little-Known Benefits of Daily Exercise
Put a number in your title and you grab attention. People see numbers as facts, so when you combine a number with a topic your audience cares about, you improve the odds that someone will click on your headline and read your post.
As far as writing the body of the post, the list format makes it easy. You start with a summary, list your points, number them, then wrap up with a recap. When you can’t come up with a blog post idea, lean on the simple list post for an easy-to-write, easy-to-read format that practically writes itself. Keep the following points in mind and you will write the perfect list post every time.
1 – Decide On a Number
21, 7, 5 … you are going to have to figure out how many items you want on your list. Think about the topic you are writing about. Consider the reason why you are writing this blog post, and what problem you are trying to solve for your audience. If you’re creating a massive resource, 101 is a popular number that has proven to work well in the past.
For shorter lists, choosing a number between 5 and 25 usually works well, according to blogging instructional site ProBlogger.net. Round numbers like 10, 20 and 100 seem to lend a greater sense of authority. In most cases, odd numbers have been proven to draw more traffic than even numbers. Try to use a number equal to or greater than 5, or your list may appear to provide little value.
2 – Keep Your List Items Similar
Try to keep from mixing up the types of items on your list. If you want to write a list post about motivation for weight loss, stick to one type of motivational tool. You wouldn’t want to mix quotes, websites, instructions, books and MP3s in your list. This confuses your reader. However, a top 10 list of motivational quotes, with no websites, books or instructions listed, appeals to the natural inclination of the human brain to crave order.
3 – Think About the Sequence
When writing lists, you want to follow a sensible order. If you write a list post about how to publish a book, there is an obvious process that needs to be followed. Certain steps need to be taken before subsequent actions can follow.
This is true with recipes and processes, but can also work with other types of lists. Think most to least popular, biggest to smallest, fastest to slowest, or whatever sequential order makes the most sense for your list.
4 – Come Up With Plenty More List Items Than You Need
If you are creating a list post with 21 items, brainstorm 25 or 30. Always shoot for 10% to 20% more items than you were planning on using. Then you can pull out those that don’t fit with the rest. Many times you may also find yourself listing 2 similar items that are virtually the same. Coming up with more items than your list requires gives you a lot of wiggle room, and helps you give your reader the highest quality list.
5 – Always Number Your List Post Items!
You improve readership and make your readers’ brains happy when you number your list. When someone sees “Top 11 Ways to Eat an Elephant” as your list post title, their brain is already preparing them to see numbers 1 through 11 listed in order. Always, always, always number your list post items.
6 – Always Use the Number in Your Title, Instead of Spelling the Number Out
For whatever reason, web surfers across all demographics are more likely to click on a headline with a number, as opposed to that same headline with the number spelled out. “17 Blogging Traffic Secrets” will draw more traffic than “Seventeen Blogging Traffic Secrets” every time. Use the numerical version of the number rather than spelling it out in your title.
7 – No Fluff
Don’t include a list item just for the sake of stretching your list to a particular number. Your list post should deliver high quality, valuable information. Take out the fluff, including any list items which aren’t pulling their own weight quality-wise.
Remember, write a number-driven headline on a topic that interests the people in your niche. Begin with a short introduction and then list your points, numbering them as you go. Close with a summary. Be sure to include the points listed above, and your list posts will be high-quality traffic magnets that provide your audience with value, and help you meet your blogging goals.