Just How Popular are List Posts?

Magazines have always known the power of a good list. Look at the covers on your local newsstand and you’ll see plenty of “5 tips to shed your winter pounds” or “10 ways to save on your home loan” type headlines. This style of content just works, and if you’re a blogger, you’d be wise to pay attention.

Today I was looking through the traffic on our app review blogs AppStorm, and decided to make use of a handy Google Analytics feature called Content Drilldown which lets you view stats for content by the directories they sit in.

So on AppStorm we publish lots and lots of app reviews, some how-to posts, and a weekly roundup or two. Knowing how popular list posts are, I figured our roundups would be the most trafficked. Here’s an example of our most recent roundup of 5 Places to Find Free Mac Software.

A typical AppStorm Roundup Post

Thanks to category permalinks in WordPress, the three types of content sit in /reviews, /howto and /roundups, so they are perfect for comparing traffic. Over the last month, here are the numbers:

  • Roundups: 843,024 Pageviews
  • Reviews: 126,161 Pageviews
  • How-To: 95,905 Pageviews

In other words, on AppStorm, list posts average almost SEVEN times as much traffic as the blog’s mainstay of reviews and almost NINE times as much as our how-to content! Here’s the screengrab:

Why not publish only lists?

Of course when you see these kinds of numbers you’d be forgiven for wondering why we don’t publish only list posts. After all, assuming they are less than seven times as expensive to write, they are clearly the most cost effective posts to publish.

The reality is that list posts don’t build a great blog. The problem with lists themselves is that they tend to lack a voice. When a publication has no voice, there’s really nothing to differentiate it from another publication that publishes similar lists.

Rather I think of them as traffic traps to catch new readers and to introduce them to our regular content types: reviews and how-to posts. Of course some readers will also stay purely for the lists, and even the people who love our reviews will also be enjoying the lists. But it all needs to be in balance.

Building a Successful Blog

If you enjoyed this article, then you can read more about AppStorm in the case studies section of my new book: How to Build a Successful Blog Business! It comes with two other case studies and a lot of how-to material based on how we have built our successful blogs here at Envato.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *