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Top 10 Blogosphere Trends + 10 Great List Posts

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Each week, Regator brings you a list of the ten stories bloggers have been writing about most during the previous seven days (click any trend to see a list of posts about it). And while blogging about the week’s hottest topics may help you snag some new readers, it also puts you squarely in the center of a massive crowd, all talking about the same subject. That’s why, along with the top ten lists, I always give examples of posts that covered the week’s top stories in interesting ways.

We’ve already looked at interesting formats that can inspire you and add variety to your blog. Today, we’ll look in more detail at one of those formats: list posts. Writing a list post is the assignment for Day 2 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook because (among other reasons) list posts are scannable, succinct, visually attractive, persuasive, and have a higher than average chance of going viral. If you’re new to this type of post, get some valuable tips by checking out “10 Steps to the Perfect List Post.” Let’s see how some bloggers used lists to cover this week’s top stories:

  1. Gulf of Mexico – By offering five solutions, Inhabitat’s Top 5 Green Ways to Clean Up Oil Spills ensures that readers know exactly what they are being promised.
  2. Rand PaulThe Atlantic Wire’s 6 Ways Rand Paul Is Like Sarah Palin uses a bullet-pointed list to break up what might otherwise have been an unwieldy block of text providing comparisons between the two politicians.
  3. Google TV ­– 7 Ways to Watch Web Video Without Google TV gives readers value through tips on products, along with the pros and cons of each. Using a non-round number such as seven can have the effect of encouraging readers to add to the list in the comments, which has happened on this Gadget Lab post.
  4. French Open ­– The Bleacher Report’s 10 French Open Observations, provides tennis enthusiasts with ten scenes from this important event. As one commenter noted, the post keeps things “brief and moving along.”
  5. North Korea – As demonstrated by PajamasMedia’s North vs. South Korea: How Bad Could a War Get? list posts don’t always have to be numbered. Breaking this story down into “The Good News,” “The Bad News,” “The Worse News,” and “The Downright Scary News,” dissects and simplifies a complex situation.
  6. World CupAbduzeedo’s The 10 Stadiums of the 2010 World Cup is appropriately image-heavy and text-light for this design-focused blog and uses the round number 10, which (like 25, 50, or 100) lends the post a certain amount of authority.
  7. Mark Zuckerberg ­– Agree to Disagree’s 5 Ways to Deal with Facebook’s Privacy Policy shows that the list itself might be only part of your post. Create the list then spend the rest of your post playing devil’s advocate or debating the pros and cons of each item.
  8. Craig VenterJacks of Science used a bold, attention-grabbing, humorous headline to sell 5 Reasons Craig Venter Might Kill You. It’s not a brand-new post relating to Venter’s recent creation of the first synthetic life, but it does provide interesting trivia in a fun-to-digest format.
  9. Series Finale ­– BuzzSugar’s The Top 10 Highlights From the American Idol Season Finale! uses the word “top” to create interest. Words like “top” and “best” lead your readers to believe that they’re seriously missing out if they don’t read your post and therefore tend to do very well in the titles of list posts. Techland’s 10 Ways LOST Shouldn’t End takes the opposite approach and looks at the worst ways the show could end rather than the best. Lists of the “worst,” “most awful,” “most disastrous” also tend to do well. Call it schadenfreude.
  10. Shrek Forever AfterReelz Channel’s Top 10 “Wow, You’ve Really Let Yourself Go” Movies uses one timely story to illustrate a trend, presenting each list item with a clear subheadline in larger text and bolded phrase that hopes to intrigue readers into reading the smaller text.

How often do you use list posts? Under what circumstances to you think they work best? Let us know in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

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Comments

  1. James Dyson says:

    Great post Kimberly.

    I use list posts regularly on quite a few of my blogs, and find they’re a great way to display ideas – they are easy to read and quite easy to put together too.

    I think list posts will be around for a long time to come!

    ~James

  2. Scott Dinsmore says:

    Excellent article Kimberly. This is something I think about a lot as I write my book summaries and articles. Lately at ReadingForYourSuccess I have started to include at least some version of a list in almost all my posts. So far the traction has been really good. Not only does it make the headline more intriguing but it makes it more likely that the reader will take home something of value in a relatively short amount of time. The more I can do to inspire some positive action the better.

    Thanks so much,
    Scott

  3. Hey Kimberly,

    Thanks for sharing these great posts. Going to check out all of them.
    Btw. i like the “The Top 10 Highlights From the American Idol Season Finale! “Greatt !!

    Thanks,
    Dev

  4. Akash Sharma says:

    That’s a good wrap up of most talked about topics on web, Thanks Kimberly. The best thing is that it covers entire topics not just something related to blogging or promotions. Checking out Regator now.

  5. I write about one list post a month. However, my lists are often the beginning of a series, where I briefly discuss a general topic or ask a question, then provide a list of options/answers. The following posts then go on to provide more detail for each of those options/answers.

    I find that the list posts get most of the traffic inside my site and do a good job of sending readers further in my site as they search for more details.

  6. I don’t use list posts as often as I should. But I think with as much content as my blog has, I could use a list post to present information into an easy to digest and meaningful manner while at the same time encouraging readers to dig deeper into my site.

    Thanks for the great idea!

  7. I dont write lists posts typically. I find them to be very cliche for the topic I write on. Instead, I will do a post series, then at the end, I list all the post in the series.

  8. I think that using list is very crucial when giving step by step guidance on any detailed activity. For example I once wrote a post on how to approach a group of strangers and gave a specific algorithm for approaching. As a lot of the blog posts suggests on problogger, chunking down information makes it digestible. I only use the lists when like most blogs when there’s a series of different explanations or steps.

    As for myself, I use them probably one every three blogs at most, and the others I blog in a free flowing story format that allows my readers to enjoy the philosophical side of life without always have the prescription.

    Vincent Ng- Conversation Arts

  9. To be truly altruistic is to not steal attention. Lists steal attention because the human brain is attracted to shortcuts (and, hence, lists).

    I do, however, periodically write some posts in list form but will refrain from titling a post, “Top 10″ anything.

    I will not judge others negatively who use lists, I simply think they are pretentious and obvious marketing ploys to steal attention.

    Let the content be compelling — not the title alone…

    Kent @ The Financial Philosopher

  10. darth says:

    To be honest, I’m starting to read list posts only. It takes so much time to read regular 3 page post.

    I read regular posts only on blogs that I have on my “top” list, so I have the quality ensured.

  11. Chris says:

    I used to find list posts compelling, but they’re now so overdone I usually skim them over.

    Quite often, they’re a sign that the blogger has run out of original content or things to say.

  12. Vicki says:

    I have not used list posts too much to date although for some specific purposes I am going to be incorporating them more on my blog. For example, when I am writing something technical that won’t appeal to the segment of my readers that don’t like technical, it may be better to make a list where that group can look at first line of the list and not have to read the in-depth explanation of each item if not desired.

    Trying to appeal to readers of different personality types can be challenging. Lists can be an option that satisfies more than one need.

  13. Andy Merrett says:

    I have used a number of list posts on my own sites. Sometimes they are quite light on content – particularly ones which focus on images – whereas other times they have a lot of personal commentary attached to them.

    The ones which are also ‘how-to’ in nature tend to do very well particularly as evergreens – for example “7 easy ways to improve your piano playing strength and dexterity” is consistently in my top 10 though I wrote it over four years ago.

    I’m starting to move more to ‘intelligent’ lists (ones with useful content attached) rather than simply links or images, as they do seem to pull more visitors in over the long-term, even though short list posts might create an initial buzz. I think it depends on the niche as well, though. In some niches list posts may be rather jaded, but in others they are a mainstay. (You only have to look at magazines to see that lists, however they are dressed up, are still extremely popular)

  14. Deb says:

    I use a list once a week as part of a meme. I often write a lot of very detailed posts, so a list breaks it up and gives lots of brief suggestions to spark other ideas rather than one idea in a lot of depth. I see it as giving my readers freedom rather than a formula.

    I also use lists in different ways, sometimes it’s a straight list, sometimes it’s a story with different sections, fun facts, photos, I even did a quiz once.

    I try to keep a very balanced schedule, with 4 or 5 different types of posts around my 5 main content areas, shifting it around so there are things to appeal to different people.

  15. I know that right now I am trying to stay up to date on the gulf of Mexico situation to see what happens, so I can see why it is at the top of the list.

  16. Justyn says:

    I try to use a list at least once or twice a week. Some great ideas with the lists you gave here. I find they’re great ways to bring in traffic…easy to read, skimmer, entertaining so on

  17. I find list posts to be really effective. I usually do one list out of every three or so posts. Usually lists and breaking news get the best results on my site.

  18. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for all the great insights, guys. Really useful comments this week.

    Vicki, your idea of using lists to appeal to two different types of readers (those who want a quick read/skim and those who want in-depth information) is a cool way of looking at how lists can work for your readers.

  19. Another new write-up with logical points, We’ve been a lurker right here for a while but hope to become more involved in the foreseeable future.

  20. It has been a really good read while I waited on the show being completely ready. Perfect blog post.

  21. Jools Stone says:

    Can anyone tell me if there’s a magic number to aim for please? I mean a straight list like Seth Godin’s famous traffic one. I need something that shows impressive effort without too much drop off potential.
    Thanks
    Jools