Website visitors love lists. And for good reason: they make information or entertainment easy to digest. So it makes sense to write some of your blog posts as lists. Here are some titles as examples:
- Five Ways to Make Tax Time Easier
- Eight Customer Service Lessons The Walking Dead Can Teach You
- The Top Ten Ways To Protect Your Garden From Frost
List items can be as short as one sentence or as long as several paragraphs. They can consist of words or images or videos or a mix.
Aside from making information easier to digest, lists also have good potential for high search engine ranking and social sharing. How many times has someone shared a list with you or tweeted about a useful list or linked on Facebook to a fun list? A well done list could go viral. The key is picking a great topic.
Like any content, the list needs to appeal to your audience. That means focusing on a topic that will catch their attention, because it will help them or provide a fun diversion. Tying in a useful topic with something fun or current or unexpected are some ways of catching their attention. In one of the examples above, customer service was tied in with the TV show The Walking Dead. What a zombie series has to do with customer service is intriguing, and if you can deliver both humor and practical advice at the same time, it could be a winning combination.
Lists don’t need to be clever to capture our minds and our hearts, of course. Helping to solve a pressing problem goes a long way. Facing tax time or the prospect of losing valued plants are just a couple of examples; you know your audience, so put yourself in their shoes. And if you can anticipate issues they may not be aware of, even better.
Types of Content
There’s no end to the types of contents you can use for lists: tips, short reviews, links to other resources, links to your best material, quotes, fun trivia, and so on.
Structuring Your List
Notice it was much easier to read the three examples at the top of the page as a list, rather than as a single sentence with commas (keep that in mind when you’re writing for the web in general). Now the way this translates into writing an entire blog post is to use headings in place of bullet points. You’re able to scan this post to see the various sections – each list item becomes a section with a heading. The headings don’t need to be numbered, unless you’ve included a specific number in your title.
Not only will this make it easy to visually scan the page and pick out the individual points, but it also helps search engines understand how the content is broken up. Make sure you use the
<h2> heading for each point. Keep the headings short and to the point. In the case of the gardening tools example, the heading would simply be the name of the tool. In the tax example, a short description of the tip – Sort Receipts Monthly – would work well.
When Is A List No Longer A List?
In some cases, your list might be better done as a series of separate blog posts. The key is length of the individual points on your list. If you’re taking more than one or two paragraphs to explain each point, that could be a candidate for a series of blog posts rather than a single post with sub-headings. There’s no hard and fast rule for this, but another consideration would be: would someone be interested in this piece of information on its own?
Of course you could always make a list post that briefly describes, say, the ten most important gardening tools, and then links from each list item to a separate blog post going into detail about the particular tool.