7 Reasons Why Numbered Blog Post Titles Work — and a Simple Formula to Create Them
If you’ve been reading blogs and other web content for some time, you should notice a pattern in blog post titles. Popular blog posts almost always contain numbers, and most of them begin a title with a number.
According to English grammar, you should avoid starting a sentence with a number that is not written out except if it is a date. Who cares? If a number works anywhere in the headline or title, by all means use it.
Why Numbers in Headlines Work
Earlier today, I was browsing in one of my favorite blogs, Freelance Switch. Suddenly I noticed something interesting (see the screenshot on the right).
Out of the 8 best of FreelanceSwith blog posts of all time, 7 of them have numbers. And to be specific, the 5 of those 7 use numeral form as opposed to written form, although they are used to begin the titles.
Do you think it is coincidental? I don’t think so.
Any copywriter knows the power of a number in the headline. It works for a few reasons. When including a number in the title, you gain the following benefits:
- Catchy. A blog title is there to grab the reader’s attention and make him/her read more. Numbers are catchy. They are not common in headlines and titles, and our eyes catch them automatically.
- Specifics. Your audience can’t relate to vague titles. What can be more specifics than numbers? A reader immediately knows how many points you include in the blog post. No guessing required.
- Teasing. The best titles summarize the content, but leave you curious to find out more. Chances are readers will read your blog post just because you have one good idea, tip or resource. How could they resist 5, 7 or even 101 of them?
- Useful and valuable. A blog post containing 10 points on a particular topic suggests that it is something useful. Perhaps your reader may want to bookmark it (think social bookmark!) for future reference. If the number is particularly large for the topic, the reader will appreciate it even more, as it has high perceived value.
- Well thought out content. An author must have put a lot of thought into the content to come up and elaborate on so many points (comprehensive). There should be something in it that anyone may not have thought of (unique). As a blogger, you establish expertise as someone who knows the topic well.
- Easy to read and scannable. Lists are easy to read. Sometimes, going from one point to another quickly is enough to understand the big picture of the content. That saves busy reader’s time. If they bookmark it, they may be able to come back later though.
- Clear. I believe the best title should be clear and easy to understand. Bloggers who write list posts know their content well, so it is easy to make the titles represent the content properly. A reader immediately gets it although they scroll the page from top to the bottom quickly.
Bloggers Reap the Benefits Too
I’ll be the first to admit that I usually write list posts not only for my readers. If you think about it, you should realize that dividing content into subheadings or make it a list can speed up your writing tremendously.
With a list, bloggers don’t have to maintain the flow from one paragraph to another. Each description of the list is usually short, perhaps 5 paragraphs are a lot.
After writing the points in the list down, the blog post almost writes itself. You have to try it to believe it.
List posts are also great content for social bookmarking sites. People bookmark them because of the 7 reasons above and when visitors come they will more likely stay too. Social bookmarking users (and generally Web visitors) have short attention span. A topic that is of interest to them is not enough. Content must be easy to read and scan too.
The Secret Formula to Writing Numbered Titles
You may need this formula if you find yourself struggling while creating attention pulling titles. Identifying the following variables can help you shape a headline around them:
- Audience. This is not required if your blog is already specific to certain market segment.
- Topic. The theme of the content.
- Benefit(s). Pick one or two strongest benefit(s) from the content.
Use the number of points in the list with the information above to create a title. Taking this post as an example:
- Audience: bloggers.
- Topic: numbers in blog post titles.
- Benefit(s): work like gangbusters, simple formula.
Bonus Tip: Write a few titles and keep the best.
Bonus Tip 2: You need to tear up the English teacher rule book. Use numerals. You lose the psychological power if you write those numbers as one, seven, a hundred, etc.
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