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jessica clark Jessica Clark

Learn why lists get page views and ways to craft them

While searching the web or surfing social media, consumers don’t read everything that turns up in their browsers or news feeds. Content needs to be relevant, specific and digestible to capture their attention and earn clicks.

Presenting information in a list format is a proven way to attract readers. Research has shown that blog posts as lists, with headlines identifying them as such, tend to get more views than others. “3 Ways to Cut Your Heating Bill in Half” is tough for a budget-conscious homeowner to resist. It’s stronger than something like, “Spend Less to Heat Your House,” because the latter version is less specific and could be simply a sales pitch boasting special rates.

Write a headline that starts with a number followed by a word like these, then deliver the goods, and see readership skyrocket:

5 Reasons List Posts Are Popular

Blog posts formatted as lists drive traffic. Here are five reasons readers love them.

  1. A blog post containing a list of points promises to contain valuable takeaways, no fluff. Readers know exactly what to expect.
  2. Lists are skim-friendly, so they’re faster to read, which time-strapped consumers appreciate. They can get bite-sized nuggets of information that are easy to understand and remember.
  3. Lists are shareworthy; they live comfortably on social media and are popular items to share because readers who find them to be valuable — or just plain fun — want their friends to enjoy them, too.
  4. It’s easier to write lists. The blog post outline starts with just a few words, and elaborating briefly on each list item is less intimidating than filling a blank page with paragraph after paragraph.
  5. A list becomes conversational, because it’s easy to chime in. Whether encouraged or not, readers can post a comment to add their own idea to the list.

Speaking of which, please share your list post perks in the comments below.

5 Tips for Writing Blog Posts as Lists

The first step to creating a strong list post is focusing on a topic. For help choosing blog subject matter, think about the sales funnel and learn how to fill up a content calendar. From there, use these pointers.

When it’s possible to summarize each list item in one or a few words, it makes the post even easier to skim and digest.

  1. Number the list. Making the list quantifiable enhances its perceived value and helps readers assess what kind of commitment (just a little) it will require to read the blog post.
  2. Write each item with a similar style, format and length. Don’t write one list item as just a phrase or title but elaborate with a short paragraph for all of the others. And order the items logically.
  3. Sometimes, it works well to lead each list item with a bolded word or phrase, followed by a colon, dash or new line and then a longer description or explanation. When it’s possible to summarize each list item in one or a few words, it makes the post even easier to skim and digest, and each bold phrase is another entry point, or opportunity to draw the reader’s eye down the page, and hopefully, his or her attention, too.
  4. Invite readers to add to the list. One way to encourage participation is to end the list with an odd number, such as nine, and ask readers to come up with the 10th item. Share this on social media to gain additional traction.
  5. Consider making the list into a series of blog posts. If each item in the list could get lengthy, it deserves its own blog post. Each individual blog post could include the entire list of topics to be covered in the series, but elaborate on only one per post.
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