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List Post Headlines
StackHacks - How to Write Headlines for List Posts
This is a repost from an article I wrote over a year ago. It is still relevant for us writers.
Did you know that 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the article?
The ultimate headline [
<H1>tag] length to optimize for Google is 49 characters, and they dominate the top 5 Search Results. Under 60 characters ensures that you will be able to read the entire title on a Google result page.
A SubStack headline is different in that we are not optimizing for Google. Just for our article page. You can search Substack here.
People like reading list posts because:
Lists help us in organizing what is otherwise overwhelming.
They demonstrate expertise
Lists make it easier to remember things.
Lists can focus the mind
Easy to read
Add to a Free Report as a quick review
Target your audience by using You
Headlines for List Posts:
Use a number to start a list post. Lists are easy to scan, and the numbered lists are rewarding to read through to the end.
List Posts starting with a number have a 58% Higher Click Rate than any other headline.
A study by The Content Marketing Institute verified that people clicking on a headline starting with an odd number get 20% more clicks than headlines leading with an even number.
There is an exception with the above rule: Odd numbers are clicked more *unless the number is close to a recognizable threshold number like 10, 50, and 100.
The BEST list posts ever were top 10’s, top 50’s, and top 100’s.
How to pick the number to use in your Numbered List Title: Make your article 10 numbers higher than the highest Google result for the list you are trying to write about. This is based on a concept called left digit bias. It’s why prices usually end in a 99.
If the highest number on the first page of Google is the title - “11 ways to leave your lover”, then use “21 Ways to…” It’s 10 higher than 11 and is an odd number.
A searcher believes the article with the highest number of listed points has a better chance of giving them the answers they are trying to find with their search. There is more perceived value in the post with the higher numbered title.
7 Ways to (Kill 2 Birds With 1 Stone)
33 Things (I Wish I’d Known When I Was Just Starting College)
43 of the Most (Common Books the Top Podcasters recommend) in (2022)
5 Ways to (Recharge Your Phone) When You Are (On Vacation)
7 (Computer Skills) That Will Change Your Life
11 early (High Blood Pressure) signs
9 Steps to a (Good Sleep)
25 Tips to (Save Money) on Your (Basement Renovation)
7 Quotes by (Elmore Leonard) that will (Give you an MBA in Creative Writing)
31 (Adjectives) to never use in a (newsletter about writing)
15 Things You Didn’t Know about (Substack’s founders)
50 (Morning Rituals) from (Your Favorite Authors)
21 Things the (Truckers) did wrong (when they Protested in Ottawa)
Now rewrite your own, changing the words in the brackets. I bet you didn’t know there would be homework, eh? Share some of your own with other SubStackers in the comments below.
Click Bait Headlines
I know…but people click on them. National Enquirer-type stuff.
You Should (see Pamela Anderson on the Beach Today)
What are (YOU Talking about Willis)
Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby
Bigfoot Kept Lumberjack as Love Slave
Saddam and Osama Adopt Shaved Ape Baby
Warning: (Don’t Put These in the Microwave)
The Ultimate Guide to (Getting Subscribers for your SubStack)
Here’s The Fix for (broken thing)
Secrets That Nearly Got Me Killed
Titanic Survivors Found Onboard
I Didn’t Believe that my Aunt was Really my Uncle
You Won’t Believe what Abe Lincoln Looks Like Now
Mans 174-Mph Sneeze Blows Wife’s Hair Off
Toilet Baby Grows Gills (WTF? Weekly World News)
Demon Dog Rips off Sitter’s Face
People like to learn things, and with a How-To list, they are sure to find a couple of golden nuggets that they can use in their day-to-day life.
How to (Wang Chung Tomorrow Night)
How to (Smell Good using Common House Plants)
How to (Cheat at Wordle Without Getting Caught)
How to (Rock AND Roll)
How my (Dog got me to go to Church)
How to (Write a Killer Newsletter Headline in 5 Minutes)
How to (Fire Your Employees) Like a Boss
How to be (The Most Interesting Person in the Office)
How to be (Unforgettable)
How to (Repair a Screen Window) in 5 Minutes
How to (Get 100’s of SubStack Subscribers in 3 Months)
So if you’re stuck on what content to write about, pick something that you know and make up a list article about that thing.
Distraction: Try this BS Generator and get Headlines like these that nobody will click on 🙄, except maybe your engineer friends on Twitter:
Phosfluorescently Re-Calibrated Functional Systems
Efficiently Extend Effective Best Practices
Proactively Simplify High Standards in Clouds
Assertively Incept Quality Data
#Lists #Headlines #NumberedHeadlines
Thanks subscribers! Comments appreciated. Peace on Earth!