4 Reasons Why List Posts Work

Table of Contents

List Posts Give People What They Want

It is important to provide in-depth analysis to give people a full understanding of an issue, product, or topic of value. However, there are times when you just want an easy way to consume information.

List posts break down information in a practical, specific, and digestible style. What makes them so valuable?

1. The Value Is In The Title

The title of a list post says “read me and find exactly whats promised”. Be sure that your content is meeting the expectations of your title. Effective headlines are extremely important for driving traffic to your blog. Some of the example headlines below establish different expectations for the reader to self identify with.

Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?

Use this type of headline to demonstrate the expertise that only comes from really knowing your business or niche. People love to get a “heads up” on potential problems.

10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Living

A classic that can only flop if you fail to deliver. Concentrate on writing content that sparkles, and people will acknowledge that you not only know what you’re talking about, but you also communicate it well.

Five Familiar Skin Troubles

Commiserate with your readers by setting forth problems you know they are having, and they just might determine that you are the right solution.

Six Types of Investor — Which Group Are You In?

Let the readers self-identify themselves by providing categories into which they will likely fall into. You know about the power of using the word “you” when addressing readers, but people love it, even more, when they can focus on themselves.

2. Numbers Drive The Value of The List Post Home

The use of numbers is an important part setting specific expectations. People know exactly what to expect or they know they’re bound to walk away with one thing if they see a higher number.

Where have you seen this before? Do a quick experiment by going to the grocery store’s check out line and scanning the magazine titles. You’ll notice that most of the headlines begin with numbers. The higher the number of spots on your list post equals the amount of information in that post. If a reader is looking for tips on how to start their own business, are they more likely to click on a post that has 5 tips, or a post that has 10 tips? The answer will always be 10 tips, even if the information may not be as helpful, the larger number is more likely to catch a readers eye.

3. List Posts Are Great For Readability

List posts are easy to read. The reader can easily navigate to different sections without sacrificing the article’s rhythm or comprehension. This is invaluable given the impatient nature of how people read on the web. A useful tip could be including a table of contents at the top of the page to make navigating the post even easier. 

Jakob Neilson’s study on how people read on the web was conducted in the late ’90s. the results he found were very early indicators as to what the state of the internet would eventually become. His study can be best summarized through this blunt quote from the study,

They don’t. People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.

In fact, more research by Jakob Neilson concluded that 79% of people scan through any new web page they visit. We now know that people tend to scan through new web pages, list posts are a skimmer’s best friend.

Characteristics of Scannable Content

1. Easy To Navigate

Here is an excellent example of a Top Scary Movie list post by Cosmopolitan contributors, Kelly McClure, and Mehera Bonner. Each movie is given a short paragraph description, a link to stream the movies instantly and, a trailer of the movie. The post itself has everything a reader would need when deciding if they want to watch this movie.

Notice the freedom people have to scan from movie to movie. Now realize that this privilege is unique to list posts. Whether it be the steps in a tutorial or a ranking of popularity, list posts can be read from any starting point.

 2. Line Breaks

Short paragraphs an important characteristic to list posts. A paragraph of 3-4 lines is preferred. I didn’t say sentences since this could break the rule. Notice the spacing through this article, everything can be read in bite-size chunks.

Remember, the point is that list posts are going to be compatible with people skimming through the page. Offer one solid point per paragraph.

3. Compelling Subheads

Subheads have a huge influence on the pace of an article. It is one thing to accept that people will skim your content, but subheads allow you to control how they skim.

This is because subheads will be noticed by passing eyes before the details of the content. Create subheads that highlight an important part of the overwhelming message you are telling people. Ask yourself, “if someone were to just read the content in this subhead, would they leave with a compelling fact that relates to the gist of the article?”

4. Bulleted Lists

Part of creating readable content is incorporating bulleted lists. They are a popular way to list things in your list posts without ruining the readability of an article.

It is important to note that the bulleted list is not for full sentences. They should be very brief, and even symmetrical in appearance. Utilize them as fascinations that will catch the scanning eye and convince it that the rest of your content is worth reading.

For example, list posts should be mixed into your web content because:

  • List posts use headline’s that readers prefer to click
  • List posts can keep the attention of even the most impatient reader
  • List posts can lead readers to your other content

4. List Posts Can Be Used For A Variety of Posts

Here are a few examples of different list posts:

Advice List Posts

Taking a problem and offering a list of helpful tips, solutions, and advice are among the most appreciated list posts. Each point is a unique bit of information and given its own section.

Advice list posts should walk the reader through the steps required to actually do those things. Don’t be bland, offer people something they can learn and grow from.

Resource List Posts

It would take up a lot of your time to test 100 SEO tools and resources. You might waste hours testing tools that don’t do what you want. Thanks to Cyrus Shepard ‘s 100 Free SEO Tools and Resources those hours of research are compiled into one resource web page.

It is an illuminating example of how resource list posts offer convenient resources. Hours of research is compiled into a handy resource list. Users can read a brief description of the tool’s feature, determine if it is appropriate for their needs, and follow the link if it is. Resource list posts are like a subway station with numerous subway cars linking people to helpful web pages.

What problems or needs do your customers have? What kind of resource list can you create for them?

How-To List Posts

This type of list post is perfect for tutorials. They offer step by step instructions to complete a task. You can increase their value by emphasizing the usefulness of each step. When writing these step-by-step posts, make sure that you are writing these steps as if the person who is going to use this post has no prior experience or information with the topic.

In Conclusion, List Posts Increase Your Exposure

Sharing remedies, instructions, tips, solutions, etc. in the form of a list is an appreciated act of kindness. Who knew it could be so helpful? It’s practical. It’s well organized. It’s honest.

..and it’s a breeze to read through.

What are some more benefits to a list post?  Let us know in the comments!

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One Response

  1. Hey Micheal,

    This is a great read, everybody talks about writing list posts but nobody talks about how to ace them and why they work.

    As loved as they are, I believe they can be just as easily ignored because readers scan articles to see if the article is worth their time and attention or not. So it is very important to actually make them impressive and worth their while.

    Thank you for writing this, Cheers!

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