I have two thoughts on numbered headlines. I know they are all the rage in the blogging world, so I thought I’d address both the good and bad in them. One one hand, I think they are a great way to grab readers’ attention, but on the other hand, I think they often over promise and under deliver. So without further ado, here is the good and bad of numbered headlines.
3 Reasons To Write Headlines With Numbers In Them
1.) Numbered headlines are easy to scan
This can be so important when blogging. The way information is shared on a blog is much different than any other medium. There are so many blogs out there, and you have to give the option of scanning so readers can figure out if what you are writing about really is worth their time.
2.) Numbered headlines help organize thoughts
When writing a blog post it can be extremely easy to ramble on and on and on. But if your points are numbered, then it automatically organizes your thoughts. Whenever I write numbered blog posts, I write the main points first (the part that gets numbered) and then go back to add the rest.
3.) People like reading headlines with numbers in them
Quite frankly, the entire reason you write blog posts is to get others to read them, so why not use a tactic that has proven to work? I am sure there is some psychology behind it, but blog posts with numbered headlines really do get more traffic. Why not take advantage of that?
3 Reasons Not To Write Headlines With Numbers In Them
1.) It can be very hard to deliver on your promises
So I wrote a blog post titled: 6 Ways To Alleviate The Pressure of Being Awesome. The value in the post was some people are so scared of social media that they won’t even dip a toe into it. But they need to get over that fear and go for it. I gave 6 ways to re-think social media in order to understand it’s better to try it and fail then never to try it. I hope I succeeded in my task ( I even interviewed a therapist about it), but perhaps I didn’t. I promised 6 ways to help take off the pressure, but what if none of those 6 ways worked for one of my readers? Then I didn’t deliver. There is always the risk of promising in a headline and not delivering.
2.) You can end up writing reasons that don’t make sense
If you’re determined to write a blog post that gives 7 ways buying your product will rock your customer’s world, but you can only think of 6, then you may compromise what you’re trying to say in order to get a headline. I do not condone this. I started out this blog post with 7 reasons to write and not write headlines with numbers, but I quickly found out I did not have 7 reasons, so I adjusted. 7 seems to be most headlines’ favorite number, but if you’re a slave to a number, your blog post will suffer.
3.) It can get boring
I try not to write number headlines too often because I think it’s really important to keep posts interesting and varied. Those bloggers whose every post starts with a number may get a lot of daily traffic from them, but eventually, in my opinion, people will start knowing what to expect and quickly lose interest. Keep your headlines varied and your topics varied and only bring out the numbers when it really makes sense.
That’s my take on the pros and cons of numbered headlines. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think numbered headlines. Are you like me, and more likely to read headlines with numbers in them? Are you like me and also find them to be a bit of a bully? Let me know your thoughts.
October 6, 2010
I think if overused numbered lists can become very boring and there is the tendency that you’ll bore your audience to death. I am not always immmediately drawn to articles based on numbered lists.
I think the use of numbered lists should be used strategically and sparingly.
October 7, 2010
I totally agree. In the right situation, they’re great, but if they are overused they quickly become annoying and something I avoid.
October 6, 2010
Everyone loves a good top ten list, sometimes a longer list is even better because if there is a lot of good content, readers will often bookmark it on a social media bookmarking site like Digg or Stumbleupon to come back and read later.
October 6, 2010
That is definitely true. The posts that are a top 10 list and provide tons of value are really tremendous posts. They are usually my favorites. But not every post can be an amazing top 10 list. As hard as many bloggers try. Thanks for the comment!