List posts can be a fantastic way to share information that's easy to read and provide helpful content on your blog.
Yes, this is one of those “meta” posts, but it’s an important topic for bloggers. Lists are everywhere for an excellent reason. Actually, for eleven good reasons…
A few years back, I managed a blog called 12 Most. Each post was a list and, you guessed it, had twelve items on the list. This guest post from Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director of Orbit Media was written for 12 Most, and I'm excited to share Andy's ideas here since 12 Most isn't live any longer.
1. Numerals stand out in headlines
In a world of letters, numbers stand out. Numbered lists are attention grabbers. Any time a headline includes a number, it becomes more prominent than the text around it. This makes the headline more effective for better click-through rates in search results, open rates as subject lines, and shareable as tweets.
Pro tip: Use odd numbers. They often appear to be more scientific and credible. If you don’t believe me, just look at the headlines on the magazines in the checkout aisle.
2. Lists give a post structure and organization
You can’t ramble in a list. It’s a built-in structure that keeps you on topic. A list forces you to break down concepts and be organized in your thinking. This organization keeps your posts tight and makes you a more productive blogger.
More ideas to make your articles easy to consume.
3. Lists are easy to write
A list is something you can keep on the back burner and come back to anytime. Keep adding to it until it feels finished.
Pro tip: Keep the list in your back pocket.
I once kept a notepad next to my phone for one year, and I wrote down every complaint I heard about web design companies. Over time, this blog post gradually appeared: 27 Complaints about Web Design Companies.
4. Lists are accessible for readers to scan
Do you seriously expect your readers to read every word? Not likely. Accept the fact that readers are really scanners, and make it easy for them with a list. Bulleted lists are great this way. Numbered lists are even better since they set expectations about the length of a post.
5. Lists are persuasive
You may need to make several points to make your case. When you number those points in a list, it’s instantly apparent that you’re making a comprehensive, well-considered argument.
Pro tip: According to studies on the serial position effect, the first and the last items in a list are the most easily recalled. Audience attention and retention of list items is strongest at the beginning and end of the list. Put your most important items first and last, with the least important points in the middle.
6. List posts are easy to share
Each list item is a tweet waiting to happen. These bite-sized nuggets are made for sharing. Readers may tweet or post a favorite list item. Or when you’re tweeting the post yourself, you can use a juicy list item as a quote within a tweet.
7. Lists are magnets for links
Any list post is bait for inbound links. Bloggers know that when they link to a list, they’re linking to structured content in an organized format. They can be confident in the value to their readers.
8. List posts inspire comments
Ever scan through a list looking for that one item you were expecting to find but didn’t? Ever been tempted to mention it in the comments? A list is likely to include (or leave out) that one item that’s important to the reader, prompting them to add their thoughts in the comments.
9. Lists go well in the mix with other blog topics
If you’ve been blogging for a while and you find yourself stuck looking for ideas, try writing a list. It’s a fast way to produce high quality content. Get a list in the mix!
Looking for more ideas on what to write about? Try looking for suggestions on Google. Type in a word and see what populates in the search bar.
10. Checklists invite return visitors
If I find a list of to-do items for important tasks, I’m going to save it and come back to it. It’s a useful resource for actionable items. Some people print list posts and keep them nearby.
11. List content is easy to crowdsource
Sometimes, “writing” a blog post is as easy as tweeting a question. The answers that come back may work well as a list. Or try emailing a question to several experts or influencers. When you get their replies, you’ll suddenly find you have “5 Expert Views on Topic X.” Once you post it, they may help promote it for you.
If you weren’t using lists already, now you have a good idea of why you should start. If you have any suggestions or examples of lists (good or bad), let us know with a comment below!