You hear the advice all the time – “post top 10 lists”, “post a comparison list”, and so on. Why? Because it absolutely works. Let’s see why....
1. People Like Numbers and Lists
You do it, don’t you? Create a “to do” list? You think of something that you need to do, but you can’t do it “right now”, so you jot it down as something to do later when you get the time. Pretty soon, as the list expands, you start numbering the entries.
My word, how did that to-do list get to 12? I haven’t done any of it!
Posts in numbered list format feel ordered. They feel comfortable. They feel “like normal”. So, why would you not want to read a list that someone else has created?
Numbered lists are also easier for the reader to remember. Even if most of the list is forgotten later, you will probably at least remember the top 2 or 3 items. (Hint: Make sure you focus on the items in your numbered lists you want your reader to recall at a later date).
2. Numbers Tell A Reader What to Expect
Go to Yahoo.com. In their primary feed down the center of the page, you will likely see several different articles that proclaim, “10 (somethings) That (something else)”. When you see the title, you pretty much know what to expect, and how long it may take to peruse the article.
You think to yourself, “Yeah, I got time to read 10 items, especially if they are brief. Numbered lists are great!”.
Sometimes, the items are nothing more than an image gallery or slideshow with some sort of caption under the image. BleacherReport.com is great for this. “Top 10 Reasons Why Your Team Will Succeed in 2014”. Generally, it takes about 3 minutes to read one of their posts (30 seconds if you just look at the pictures ? ).
Most of the time, if you have a mild interest in reading something, your limit is probably about 10 items. If your interest in something is high, larger lists might be preferable.
I get emails from KissMetrics.com with posts titles like “101 Reasons to (do something)”. I’m sure they get some readers for larger lists or they wouldn’t write them. (Of course, most of those larger list have very short item content – perhaps a single sentence).
3. It Looks Like You’ve Done Your Homework
Most “official” research is numbered, or formatted like an outline. People know that because they either have had to do it, or they have read research formatted in this fashion. So, a numbered list “looks” like research, even if it was thrown together from just jotting down a few search results.
When someone reads a title with a number in it, they automatically assume, “Hey. This author must be very organized and know what they are talking about. Heck, they may be an Expert!”
4. Numbered Lists Are Easier to Write
Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a biggie.
Sometimes it is hard to write a flowing article, regardless of how good you really are. If you break it up into single “thoughts”, you can first put those down, and then fill in the gaps in between. It really is amazing how easily it is to come up with support for a statement once it is down “on paper”.
The other advantage, when it comes to writing the post itslef, is the natural breaks in the content that occur. It’s like having chapters in a book. You don’t have to worry about how well the last sentence of a paragraph introduces the first sentence of the next paragraph. You just stop and then start writing the next “chapter”.
5. Numbered Lists Are Easier to Read
And, they look better. One of your major requirements as a writer is to make your reader feel as comfortable as possible.
Reading long never-ending paragraphs with lots of run-on sentences filled with all kinds of different thoughts and ideas that meander through a forest of random trivia and possibly minimize or leave out proper punctuation like commas and periods before you get to a proper ending point…
is never comfortable or “fun”.
Breaking the big chunks of text into smaller chunks of text will make your posts easier on the eye, therefore making your reader’s experience a positive one instead of negative. They will also appreciate the option skip over items they might already know about, and focus on what they really want to learn.
All of your metrics will improve – time on page, time on site, feedback and comments. SEO comes naturally when dealing with numbered lists. Search engines should be able to categorize them easier, and they will hopefully look better when the post is evaluated by a “manual reviewer”.
This is why all of the big sites and blogs use numbered list post as a major part of their posting strategy. It is why you should too.
(Irony check. Hopefully everyone noticed that I used a number in the title of a post about using numbers in post titles ? ).
- Conquering the Comma(thefitzplace.typepad.com)
- 20 Killer Web Copywriting Tips(business2community.com)
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