How and Why You Should Write Powerful ‘Top List’ Posts

By: Shawn Nag  |  Posted In: Fun Stuff, Tips & Tricks  |  December 14, 2016

These days ‘top list’ posts are everywhere, and with good reason.

They generate a lot of traffic because they are absolutely packed with information, people love to read them and they’re formatted in a way that is incredibly inviting and easy to read.

They are the preferred format for a lot people and many successful bloggers swear by them.

Lists work and they will for a long time.  Brian Clark at Copy Blogger wrote a good article on why here.

Lists can be your highest performing material…

On this website, the list of Traffic Tips form the Experts is the most visited post.

On the other current website, Martial Arts Action Movies, the lists most responsible for traffic are lists. Here’s a look at traffic from that website for the last few days:
maamtrafficNotice four of the top 8 articles are lists?  This website consists of 98% movie reviews (with over 300 reviews) and these 4 list posts make up 22.76% of my landing pages (pages people visit first on my website). Not bad for roughly 1% of the pages of my total website.

Not to mention only having 7 lists on this website.

Guess what you should be writing a lot of from now on?

It doesn’t end there. The last list post brought in 14,577 visitors in 10 days when it was posted:

Bruce Lee list post traffic

You guessed it, pretty much all of the posts made that went viral, were list posts.  Surprise!

Naturally, like any popular format they are receiving some criticism from bloggers and marketers who are apparently sick of seeing them everywhere. Its recommended to ignore this however, as the results speak for themselves and it’s the quality of the information in these lists which make them awesome – the list is just how it is presented.

Besides, you don’t have to non-conform just for sake of nonconformity, which is a kind of conformity in itself.…sorry if that’s confusing lol. Just do what works for you.

But how do you create an effective ‘Top List’ post?

Dead easy.  We’ll go through the process below…

First, Choose your topic and do some research

Is there a major problem you can offer multiple solutions for? Or is everyone trying to find out who the highest ranking MMA fighters are in the world?

Whatever it is, figure it out and then do some serious research to discover the solutions or items you are going to list. Make sure you check as many reputable sources as possible so you can be certain that your list is accurate as you can make it.

Depending on the nature of your list, you may consider listing as many items as possible.  For example, if you’re listing ‘top tips to boost your metabolism’ then a lengthy, in depth article covering 101 techniques is going to be impressive and people will scour through it as a “one stop resource”, whereas if you’re listing the ‘best basketball players who ever lived’, you may want to limit the number (top 10 or 20 players).

Many marketers swear by the formula of using odd numbers for tips and even numbers when ranking items.

When ranking items less is usually better. When giving tips, information or options quite often the more tips the better. The nature of what people are after – lots of information or wanting to narrow down a  lot of information will determine which is the best format.

List out each item nice and neatly, ready to expand upon. I’d even suggest turning them into headings (using “heading 2” or a <h2> tag).

Second, put everything in order

If you’re creating a list of ‘the top ten’ somethings, then decide on or research the accurate order and place a number next to each item, listing it preferable in descending order.

List and order each item

If there’s no particular order to your list, we recommend trying to keep each consecutive item as similar to the last as possible, so it flows nicely when read or, alternatively, you can try to make them as dissimilar as possible to give the list a feeling of variety.  The choice is yours.

If your list is very long, we recommend even grouping certain items so that people can scan through to specific areas of your list and get the answers they want. There needs to be some kind of organization to it.

Please, don’t spread your list across several pages or one item per page! Put them all on the one page, people hate having to navigate through pages item by item.

Research each item in further depth.

Start by performing more search on each item and roughly list each point under it’s header.  This includes examples or your item in action, why it works/is true, a brief history and if applicable a small set of instructions.

If you’re listing tips or techniques, try your absolute best to expand on each item with a quick step by step procedure or a link to an article that communicates the procedure (or even embed a YouTube video).  That way people find your post, find an item they’re interested in and put it into action without having to spend their time doing further research themselves. Make your post a huge convenience.

Treat each item as a short informative blog post of it’s own and do your best to cut out the fluff, focusing on the useful content and giving it a sense of being jam packed with information.

Start putting it all into words.

You can start off by writing up your introduction and finish off writing your conclusion.  It doesn’t matter when you do the intro or outro, as long as it gets done.

From there you just have to go through and turn all of your item do points into sentences and paragraphs.  Having the bits and pieces of info sitting there makes it simple to communicate each point one after the other by simply writing a sentence or two about each.

Make sure each item reads and flows well, rearranging and adding any personal thoughts in to support them.

Come up with a catchy headline!

This is easy, especially for lists.  If you have 44 tips in your list then use a format like this:

“The top 44 tips to start getting more traffic.”

List how many tips you have and the result you’ll get for following them.  The same can be said for a “top 10” post with a headline like “The top 10 players in the NBA”.

You can also take things a step further by adding in some additional words to make your post more attractive, such as:

  • A word describing higher than average results – The 44 top tips to get explosive traffic
  • Make your list sound easier to follow – 44 effortless tips to get more traffic
  • Use an exact result (expanded upon in your post) to give it a sense of realism and to make it measurable – The 44 top tips to get 1000 visitors per day.
  • or combine the lot! – 44 effortless tips to get explode your traffic to 1000 visitors a day and beyond! (this may end up being a little too long though)

Item Breakdown

Your post is written, now polish it off!

Do the stuff no one likes to do – proofread and double check everything to make sure it’s written well and with good grammar.

But also find some images to go with each item if possible, and add them above it’s sub heading.  This makes it easier to identify and makes the whole post more scannable. This is important if you are listing people in your post – get a photo of each person.

Also try to get a good image to put at the top of the post itself, right aligned and also as a featured image which can help identify the problem or the solution you’re addressing. For example, a before and after picture of someone losing weight would be awesome if yo’re creating a list post on how to lose weight!

Before you publish…

…check again first.  But ultimately you’ve put everything you need into your post for it to be a resource for people everywhere to read. The next two things you need to ask yourself are:

  • Is it easy to share?
  • Will it convert well?

Both answers should be yes, if not, make sure you have share buttons somewhere so people can spread your list around the interwebs. Of course, you need to entice people toward your call to action.  Try asking “to subscribe” or “check out my course” (whatever your CTA is) in your conclusion. If you find an appropriate time to do that during the post, do it then also!


It has to convert, otherwise it’s useless.

It should be shareable so more people will read it! 

Once you’ve put all of this into place, you’ll be able to take advantage of the power of Top List posts. So get started and write one up!

Remember, do your best to make it jam packed with information and an ultimate resource on a topic people are passionate about – then you’ll be more likely to attract more attention!