Lists Do it Better
Now this blog, or any other, couldn't deliver everything a reader would want if it was truly constrained to just "lists". However, lists are an incredible tool in the blogger's arsenal. They are an effective means for putting pertinent information in front of visitors in an easily digestible format.
Most likely lists have become so popular in the blogosphere due to the virtually prerequisite headlines (post titles) that come along with them. They're attention grabbing, and they more or less tell the reader exactly what s/he is getting himself into. The Internet is information overload at its finest. There's very little trending towards spending/wasting less overall time online per se, but there is certainly a tendency to spread the time visiting more sites or reading more blogs.
Any headline that lists a number of reasons, secrets, types, or ways will work because, once again, it makes a very specific promise of what’s in store for the reader. A nice quantifiable return on attention invested goes a long way toward prompting action, and as long as you deliver with quality content, you’ll have a satisfied reader.
Here are just a few examples of proven winning headlines for lists:
1. How You Can Become [X] Instantly in 6 Simple Steps
How-to's are killer headlines, plus in this instance we've included "You" to address the the reader, in place of "X" should be something relevant and highly desirable to your audience, the "instantly" appeals to the inherent lazy-side of everyone, and the "6 Simple Steps" (or any number) provides an image of quickly being able to accomplish the goal.
2. Free Guide to Enhancing your Love Life, Starting Tonight!
Free is always good. "Enhancing your Love Life" can be substituted for whatever makes sense for your blog, but was a great example which allowed me to use "starting tonight" effectively. This simple two-word phrase creates the thought in the reader's mind that if they don't read the guide, that "as soon as tonight" they will already be missing the opportunity to apply the guide's tips and have an enhanced love life. You could use something like "impressing your date" instead of "enhancing your love life" if you had a dating site for example.
3. Which Type of [X] are You? Hint, only one will successfully [Y].
By addressing the reader in the headline you get 1 point on the attention-grabbing scale. By offering them the chance to identify themselves into a group, you get another point. By suggesting the possibility that they very well may not be in the one group that will be successful you get 2 points! You can certainly substitute "will successfully" for anything that makes sense with X and Y. This is one of the best headlines in my opinion.
Make Sure to Deliver
The only way you can really go wrong with list style posts, after you nail the headline of course, is by failing to deliver what you promised in the headline. Often you will find that you can have the best success by intertwining popular and well known items on your list with new, creative items that most people are not likely to know. Sure lots of people are going to say "hey, that's obvious" to the one or two popular items you include... but they'll also at least know you are on target with those and will have more faith in your other items which may be new to them.
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