10 reasons your list post sucks

Does your article lack an intro and a conclusion? Are you omitting visuals? Is it not easily scanned or tweeted? These are just some of the flaws that are causing readers to flee.

Have you noticed that everyone is writing list posts? Why? Because after infographics, list posts get the most social media shares.

They are so popular there are blogs devoted to list posts exclusively.

Writing a list post doesn’t ensure that you’ll generate social shares or traffic. Why? Because chances are good your list post sucks.

How do you write a great one? Avoid the following 10 reasons for failed list posts:

1. You’re not using the right number of items.

How many items should you have in your list post? The number is 10.

Ok Dork and Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million articles. They found the most popular posts featured the following number of items: 10, 23, 16, and 24 (in this order).

The difference in popularity is significant: List posts containing 10 items got four times more shares than the runner-up-posts with 23 items.

2. Your list post can’t be scanned easily.

The purpose of a list post is for someone to digest the information quickly. If your post can’t be scanned easily, you’re doing something wrong.

Just look at this post; you can figure out the main points I am trying to convey by scanning each subhead. You don’t have to read any more than that if you are short on time.

3. You forgot to write an introduction.

Just because you are writing a list post doesn’t mean you can start the post by diving straight into your first point.

You have to warm up your readers. Let them know why they should read your post.

4. You forgot to include pictures.

By including visuals, you will help people understand the points you are trying to get across.

The images should be relevant, and they can be data-oriented. For example, I used a graph at the beginning of this post to convey how successful list-based posts are.

If I hadn’t used that graphic, you may have not been as convinced as you are now that you should be writing list posts

5. You placed lists within lists.

This list post has 10 main points. Had I created a list within a list, breaking down a specific section into subsections, I would have made the list confusing.

Readability is a huge component of how well your list posts will do. If you add lists within them, you’ll lose your readers and social shares.

If you want to break down specific points in your list further, use bullets. Just make sure you avoid using a list within a list.

6. You forgot to write a conclusion.

At the end of your post, you must summarize its main message.

By adding a conclusion and clearly labeling it as a conclusion, you’ll be able to get 10 percent more of your visitors to read your content.

Scroll maps will tell you that people will land on your list post, scroll down to your conclusion, read it, and then scroll back up to read the rest of your post.

7. You didn’t engage with your readers.

Just because you are writing a list doesn’t mean you can’t engage with your readers.

Use the words “you” and “I” within your posts to help create a conversation and keep people engaged.

You can also ask questions. I did it at the start of this blog post when I asked you whether you noticed that everyone is using list posts these days.

8. You didn’t go into depth.

Creating a list post doesn’t mean you can be lazy. Simply listing 10 points isn’t enough.

You have to go into detail and make sure your readers are actually learning something. Plus, the more content you write, the more search traffic you’ll generate.

If you are targeting search traffic, having 2,000 words is an ideal number if you are looking to rank on page one.

Now, you can’t just cram 2,000 words into a post. The content has to be good and contain no fluff.

9. You didn’t make your list tweetable.

If you have a popular blog, you don’t have to worry about this very much, but chances are you could use some extra traffic.

By making each of the list elements within your post tweetable, you’ll get 30 percent more tweets, on average.

A simple way to integrate this within your blog is to use Click to Tweet.

10. You’re not optimizing for the right audience.

Writing a list post for consumers is much different from writing it for businesses.

Businesses want more details and information than consumers do. Consumers have shorter attention spans and just want to see the information as quickly as possible.

For example, if I were writing a list post for a consumer blog, I would use more visuals than anything else. On the other hand, if I were writing for a business blog, I would use more stats and data.

To get a rough sense of how to write for consumers versus businesses, you should read this checklist.


If you avoid the mistakes I talked about above and use the solutions I gave you, your traffic should increase.

I’ve found list posts increase online traffic, no matter what industry you are in. So, make sure you start using them.

What other mistakes do people make when creating list posts?

A version of this article originally appeared on QuickSprout.


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