5 Things I Learned from Publishing Nothing but List Posts for a Month

by Ken Mueller on May 31, 2013 · 7 comments

5 Things I Learned During my Month of List Posts

My experiment is done.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, I decided to have a little fun and play around with doing nothing but list posts. And since it was May, they would all be lists of five. So here it is: my last list of five things…for at least now.

And now that my experiment is over, it’s time to reflect back. While some of the results of this blogging experiment won’t be known for awhile, I do have some rather immediate observations. To refresh your memory, you can go back and read my first post about why I decided to try using list posts for an entire month.

Here are some of my observations on how well the list posts performed, most of which bore out my expectations in terms of results.

1. List posts generate traffic

For a variety of reasons, people like list posts. I think a big part is that people know what to expect. They look at the title, and they know they are going to get a quick few points about a particular topic. No surprises. And I think they expect getting easy to read, actionable advice. At least that’s what I tried to provide. Using yesterday’s post as an example, I’d bet that I got more traffic for “5 Reasons Business Don’t Blog,” than if I had just title it, “Why Businesses Don’t Blog.”

2. List posts have legs

They get shared more. I’ve noticed that the number of shares on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and other platforms is up for these posts over many of my other posts. One could assume that if you get more traffic, you’ll get more shares, but that isn’t always the case. But these are the types of posts that people like to share.

3. List posts have a longer shelf life

Not only are people sharing, but they are sharing over a longer period of time. Normally my posts get their largest amount of traffic on the day of publication, a moderate amount the second day, and then it tapers off quickly. I’ve noticed that the shares and the traffic, while doing best on day one, they still do pretty well for quite a few days longer. Again, this is probably related to some of the other points here.

4. List posts are search engine friendly

Google loves them. Normally, most of my traffic on posts, especially early on, comes from links and social sharing. That is still the case, but I’m already starting to see more of them showing up higher in search engine results. After the first few days, the search traffic to these posts starts to kick in, leading to that longer shelf life. In playing around with various key word searches, I’ve noticed that list posts on topics generally place higher than non-list posts. No idea why, it’s just what I’m seeing. I won’t complain.

5. List posts get the attention of the big boys

Well, at least from my experience they do. Over the past year or so I’ve had the occasional post picked up by the folks at Ragan Communications for their PR Daily blog. This time around, not only did a few of them get picked up by Ragan, but two caught the attention of the NY Times small business bloggers who decided to link to them. Which of course takes us back to the first point, getting more traffic. And inbound links from high authority sources also helps with SEO.

Interestingly enough, someone on Facebook accused me of publishing “link-bait,” scoffing at the post. In some ways, yes, this might be true, at least in the conventional definition of link bait by Google, which is NOT a negative thing. But more interesting is that the post in question is one that got the notice of both Ragan and the NY Times. So they liked it, and that makes me happy.

Those are my initial findings, all good, and all working together. As of Monday I’ll go back to my normal blogging routine, and will still throw in the occasional list post. Perhaps I’ll do a few more of those than normal, but I won’t go hog wild. I just know that they work well, and the results are favorable. Over the next few months I’ll be keeping an eye on these particular posts to see whether or not they continue to bring in higher than normal traffic. I have a hunch they will, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Have you tried list posts? What has been your experience with them?



It's nice to see the thought here. Much of the opinions I've seen on 'lists' start and end with your #1 or #4 without much substance behind them. I like your experiment here, and hope to see some results of my own. Thanks Ken!


I think you've confirmed what I already knew, but I'm glad you shared the results of your experiment.  I'm sharing this post with my team.


Great experiment. I hate those peeps that sneer "linkbait", half of them wouldn't be able to write a reasonable post even if they tried, they are just blogging snobs. 

I've just re-launched my multi-author site after doing some work (and losing 1500 odd posts) and for the last two weeks we've posted 3 list posts a week - 50 women to follow on Twitter, 50 women to circle on G+ and so on, the feedback has been amazing. When in doubt write a great big list is true in life as well as marketing 

Latest blog post: Sriracha Sauce

Previous post:

Next post: