top 10 listsIf you do SEO or run a successful website then you probably do a lot of writing for websites – both your own and those of the sites you want to guest blog for. If that’s the case then chances are that you’re a fan of top ten lists – which I can presume seeing as almost every website features such high numbers of them.

Top ten lists are brilliant for bloggers. They provide a simple structure and idea for an easy article that won’t require too much thought, they’re quick to write and based mostly on opinion, they can be applied to almost any subject and they space the text out nicely for readers to skim through.

Unfortunately though I also think that they’re a little bit over-done, and contrary to what many a webmaster seems to think I’d argue that most visitors don’t rub their hands together in glee as soon as they see one.

Here are ten reasons not to use top 10 lists. For the sake of irony..

#10. They’re Predictable

How many times have you read a to do list? And how often do you know exactly how they’re going to end? This pretty much makes them pointless to read and the hardly suggest originality or creativity.

#9. They’re Arbitrary

Articles like ‘the top ten films’ are completely inane in that they don’t offer anything useful to the reader. These are based almost solely on the writers opinion and as such you’re not going to learn anything from them.

#8. They’re Controversial

From a webmaster’s perspective this is actually a good thing as controversy sells and sticks in the mind. For readers though it’s just irritating to find your favourite band/game/sandwich overlooked in an article.

#7. They’re Limited

Research suggests that Google slightly prefers longer articles, but the very nature of top ten list means that they can’t be all that long. Unless you go on and on for each point – which is annoying – they’re always going to be pretty much the same length.

#6. They Don’t Require You to Engage

Writing articles that readers can easily skim through is a good way to avoid putting them off of reading your site. In the case of top ten lists though this arguably goes to far as there’s actually no incentive for your visitors to read the articles at all. They can simply skim over the headings and know everything they need to in a couple of minutes. Not great for your retention.

#5. They Oversimplify Matters

Let’s be honest, the whole idea of top tens is conceited and trite. Not everything can be ranked (no matter what your inner OCD says) and putting one thing above another really won’t paint the whole picture. There’s no room for a ‘tied’ place in a top tens list either.

#4. You End Up Making Up Awkward Entries

Most countdown lists will be ten items long which means you then often end up struggling to come up with items 8 thru 10 once you’ve run out of ideas. Meaning that often half the article will be mostly nonsense.

#3. Or Missing Things Out

Of course if the list is too short for all your ideas conversely you then get the opposite problem…

#2. They’re Tricky to Lay Out

Top ten lists rarely look good on the page. It’s hard to fit images or AdSense in without them causing you to lose track of the content and it’s incredibly irritating when they’re spaced out over multiple pages.

#1. Number One is Always Disappointing

The whole job or a top tens list is to build you up and get you intrigued, but when you get to the top spot it hardly ever seems worth it – particularly if you don’t agree. Disagree with me? Well then you’re kind of proving my point…