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Now Rank This: Blog Posts That Drive Traffic

Why do so many bloggers write rankings or list posts? Everywhere you look you see top 10 this or 15 ways to do that, the best new this, or top tips for that. Why are rankings and list posts such a popular format? For starters, readers gobble this type of post up.

Let’s be honest, most of us have short attention spans (half of you probably won’t make it beyond this sentence). We like to scan lists of stuff. We like rankings even better – we’re all competitive in one way or another. We rank everything, from football and songs to restaurants and the best products of the year.

If you want to write a blog post that will outperform your other blog posts, write rankings or list posts. Don’t do it all the time (you’ll just annoy people), but rather use this type of post to mix things up once in a while. The hypothesis certainly holds true in Journalistics. Of the top 10 posts on Journalistics this year, five were ranking posts (and one was a list).

There’s one more reason I think this type of post is more popular – controversy. Anytime I rank something, I get above average comments about my flawed methodology or all the people, places, and things I left off the list (usually it’s egos getting the best of people – sometimes I really do screw up). Either way, controversy is great for drawing attention to your posts, right or wrong.

Sidenote: If people do get upset about your posts, just be sure not to give in to the negativity. Regardless of the tone people take in the comments, they’re your readers. Be thankful they’re there – and be professional. If you make a mistake, fix it and acknowledge things publicly.

On a more positive note, you’ll get more ‘thank yous’ for ranking or list posts than any other type of post you write. People love being recognized for their achievements or being included on a list.

There is one final reason I think rankings or list posts perform so well – links. Rankings or list posts are among the most popular posts shared across social media, and other bloggers are quick to cite list posts in their posts. All these links add up to more authority for your post. The type of authority that can last for months or years beyond the original post date.

To this date, a post I wrote more than a year ago continues to pull in traffic from search engines – because I ranked something with flawed methodology and had to apologize to a lot of people. Ranking and list posts work, but do your best to get your facts straight.

Next time you’re stuck on what to blog about, ask yourself what you can list or rank and stir things up a bit. Come to think of it, I should have made this post a top 5 reasons to write rankings and list posts.

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