This first paragraph is a snappy little emcee, breezily providing the briefest of background on the problem of all those people out there on the internet not clicking through to your little backwater of a blog, or to your huge content farm with ads flashing like carnival barkers, but you already think you know what I’ve written here anyway and have skipped right over this text to skim the neat list of 9 reasons below.
Numerals stop the eye. Eyetracking studies done in the early days of the internet showed that numbers “attract fixations, even when they’re embedded within a mass of words that users otherwise ignore”, such as search results or their Twitter timeline.
Numbering establishes you as an expert. You must have done your research, or at least sat around brainstorming and repeatedly ticking off the list on your fingers, in order to come up with enough reasons to justify numbering them.
Numbering creates a list. Lists are easily scanned for highlights. An old but surprisingly still-cited study found that users don’t read on the web – they scan. No one has time to actually read your content; help them pretend that they did.
Numbers = bullet points. Bullet points = succinct. Succinct = good.
Numbering promises easy answers. Answers to the burning question that your numerically Pavlovian readers didn’t even realize they were asking until just now.
Numbering arouses curiosity. Are there really that many? Or is this going to be another one of those contrived lists? Curiosity may kill the cat, but before it does it drives click-throughs.
Numbering is temporarily mind-numbing. If you get them to click through, you are pretty much guaranteed they will scan the entire list, if for no other reason than to let them count the ways, even if they have to scroll down the page.
Numbering incites competitiveness. Maybe your readers will think they can come up with more and better reasons than you did. Or maybe they’ll think they can snarkily dispute your allegedly weak reasons in the comments section and throw off your numbers. But who cares about their thoughts – it’s the eyeballs that count.
And the 9th reason for numbering: alliteration attracts. It also makes sure the message gets locked in memory. Clearly only an expert like you could make it look well-reasoned yet effortless to come up with exactly 9 reasons to force an alliterative fit with “numbering”.
So this last paragraph is the breezy emcee again, winding it up with an upbeat sendoff that you’re not going to read, reminding you that in meeting the challenges of driving traffic to our sites, we’re all in this together. Bookmark me as a trusted resource, follow me on Twitter, and don’t forget to like me on Facebook!