Did you know that one of the most successful blog posts I wrote was just a list? That one article included a simple list of 40 short stories I thought would be good for teachers to introduce in their classes -- and not only has it brought almost 2 million visitors to my site since I wrote it in 2014, but it has been the financial bread and butter of my educational publishing company, too. Since you're here, I'm going to share the secret of how list post content can work for you.
Kelly McCausey recently wrote about list posts on her blog and then included a ton of examples from her community and I thought that was a wonderful idea. You know what they say: Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. So I put the call out to my community and we wrote our own list posts and I have compiled them into a list below.
To ensure high quality, since list posts can have a bad reputation, I asked that the posts be informative, that they provide valuable information to teacher entrepreneurs.
The List of List Posts
Note: In Kelly's article, she refers to list posts as listicles, but many of us on this site were (or still are) middle and high school teachers who have heard everything, including three boys laughing like Beavis and Butthead while staring at the thermostat on the wall because 70 was too warm and 68 was too cold. (For the record, I never did that again.) So, on this site, we'll just call them "list posts" and keep our chuckles to ourselves.
How to Write List Posts for Website Traffic?
Neil Patel wrote a post detailing the six steps of writing lists posts that I thought would help those of you who are still struggling with this concept. I know it took me a couple of years to come up with an idea for a list post on my other website, but once I realized what I had, writing similar posts got much easier.
- 1Pick the right topic: This basically means knowing your audience, just like you have to know your students in the classroom. You have to know what your market wants.
- 2Do your keyword research: This is exactly what I did. I used both my own experience as an English teacher and the tools WordTracker and Google Keyword Planner to figure out which long-tail keywords my readers would use to find my list.
- 3Create that outline: Yes, the outline that your students hate. Create the outline, share it with your students (You are sharing your business writing journey with your students if you're an English teacher and still in the classroom, right? This is the perfect way to help them see the real-life value of writing.) Neil suggests checking out your competition and finding any weaknesses or gaps in what's already out there. Again, this is what I did when I wrote my lists.
- 4Number your lists: Yep, I numbered my list, too, at the time, since I had 40 short stories. It's easier to find #22 than to scroll for days looking for The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle. I could have alphabetized the list, but decided to put the most popular stories for middle school ELA at the top.
- 5Add interesting images: Neil has a lot of screenshots peppered throughout his list post. I did not include any in mine. But perhaps this is something I need to reconsider.
- 6Avoid fake clickbait titles: Honestly, you don't want people on your site who are looking for something you aren't delivering. If your list is valuable and people want what you're listing (like 40 short stories for middle school), then you don't need unrealistic titles. That will just make people not trust you. When you're drafting your title, just think about what one of your students would say if they ran into it and read your headline. And by "one of your students," I mean that one who has no filter who you can trust to notice and say something if your socks don't match or you missed a spot while dying your hair.
Are list posts worth it?
From developing an idea for a list that will resonate with your readers to researching all the elements and creating the assets that go along with it, like graphics, creating list posts can sometimes take a lot of time.
But they are totally worth it!
List posts are often evergreen content. (Remember that list of 40 short stories I told you about? It's still driving customers to my site 8+ years later, along with a handful of spin-off list posts.) Write the post once, then occasionally update it and write another post announcing the update and linking to it. This reminds your readers (and the search engines) that your old post is there and still relevant.
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