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How to Use Numbers Effectively in Your Blog Posts

Posted By Darren Rowse 13th of December 2017 Writing Content 0 Comments

You’re a blogger, so hopefully you feel confident working with words.

But words alone aren’t enough.

Even if you haven’t been blogging for long (or are yet to start), you’ve probably noticed numbers coming up a lot in other people’s posts.

You often find numbers in post titles such as:

Even if they don’t appear in the post’s title of the post, numbers can be used to order a sequence of steps, when listing a series of tips, or when quoting statistics.

Why Do Numbers Matter So Much?

By using numbers in your post, you’ll come across as a more authoritative source of information.

Numbers also intrigue readers. If you mention “Ten ways”, they’ll want to know what they are. If you tell them you made $2,671 from your first product launch, they’ll want to know how.

Here are four ways you can use numbers in your blog posts.

  1. When sharing your results (or someone else’s), whether it’s traffic, fans, income or anything else you might track.
  2. When providing a statistic. It could be a well-known one, or something quite obscure.
  3. When listing a number of steps to follow. Those steps could be your entire post, or just a part of it.
  4. When sharing several tips or ideas, usually in the form of a list post.

Here’s how they might work for you.

#1: Sharing Your Results (or Someone Else’s)

Blog posts that share real-life results are often popular because they show that someone else has succeeded, and give the reader hope that they can too. In the post titles I shared earlier, numbers such as “3,241 Facebook Fans” and “$453k” can help the reader trust your information. It sounds like it must be helpful because it’s so specific.

Tip: Sometimes it’s appropriate to round off numbers (e.g. “My newsletter has more than 20,000 subscribers”). But if you’re sharing your results in a post, specific numbers make it clear the results are accurate.

#2: Providing a Statistic

It’s easy to give advice on your blog without necessarily backing it up. You may know your niche very well, and therefore know that your advice is accurate. But readers won’t necessarily believe you without evidence. Here’s an example from Copyblogger’s classic post Writing Headlines That Get Results:

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.

The statistics make it clear this information is authoritative and grounded in fact, rather than just someone’s opinion about whether or not headlines are important.

Tip: Of course, your statistics need to be accurate and true. Try to find the original source, or an authoritative source such as a government or university website. It’s often a good idea to link to the source as well.

#3: Listing a Number of Steps to Follow

If your post teaches the reader how to do something, or has steps they need to follow in order, it makes sense to number those steps. The reader may well be going back and forth between your post and the task they’re trying to complete, so you should make it easy for them to remember which step they’re up to.

In this type of post, including the number in the title often works well. For instance, instead of “How to Register a Domain Name” you might have “How to Register a Domain Name in Six Easy Steps”.

Tip: Try not to have too many steps. Having 20 or 30 steps may overwhelm the reader, even if each step can be completed relatively quickly. Instead, try to group each action into five to ten separate steps.

#4: Sharing Several Tips or Ideas

This is different to the step-by-step approach in that each tip or idea in your post will probably stand on its own. The reader can tackle them in any order, and may only try one or two of them.

It’s still a good idea to number each one. Not only will it help orient the reader within your post, it will also prove you’ve delivered what you promised (if you used numbers in your title).

Tip: Big numbers can work well in these types of posts. While “100 Steps to Build the Perfect Website” sounds very daunting, “100 Different Ways to Make Your Website Stand Out” sounds like a comprehensive source readers can dip into.

Using numbers in your post (and particularly in your title) may take a few minutes of extra work. But it could result in a much more popular and effective post.

Do you already use numbers in your posts? Or is it something you want to focus on a little more? If you’ve got any good tips for using numbers, share them with us in the comments.

Image Credit: Nick Hillier

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. You’re right. I remember showing my husband a new book, raving that I’d never agreed with another writer so consistently in my life. He read it and deadpanned, “It needs more numbers.”

    Then again…when I was working with blind people on the FacTapes, one blind man who’d been a real math-head when he could *see* the digits complained that a popular book-on-tape he’d ordered contained too many numbers. For him numbers were fascinating on paper; he’d been one of those people who want to re-crunch other people’s statistics and see what else the same numbers might be used to say…yet numbers were boring on audiotapes.

    Personally, I feel like King Azaz (in “The Phantom Tollbooth”). “Aaarrrgh, numbers!” I have that type of dyslexia that’s most obvious when I work with numbers.

    Oh well…that’s what computers are for. This is cyberspace; we have to respect the geeks.

  2. Hi Darren,

    Using numbers is a powerful way to convey a strong message. When it comes to titles I like to number the content and make it easy for the reader. I’ve never did 100 but who knows what lies in the future? I like to make things simple and easy so 20 has been my tops when making points. I do find that less is more because the “5 best …..” in a title has shown me more engagement that the 20 I have done in the past.

    When using numbers to back up a statistic, I do go to reputable sites such as a top notch school that has researched something. I also give a link and credit to them. I find that some readers just love to roll up their sleeves and savor an article. Others will just take my word for it when I do this.

    Numbers sure play an important roll but I don’t like putting numbers of money anywhere. I don’t like to write that because some people get turned off while others think they can do the same thing, even when they don’t have experience necessary. Maybe it’s just me, but those numbers can give the wrong idea sometimes. Just my 2 cents!

    -Donna

  3. Big fan of using numbers Darren. Amazing how numbers add order to our minds, because when we see numbers we know what we are getting. Clarity.

    I do a 10 tips or 7 steps type post regularly, to draw in traffic. Folks loves numbers and the bigger, the better. Although I have learned if you go up to and above 20, folks may tune you out a bit. Time issue. My 10 tips or 13 steps posts do best for whatever reason. Ample content, great over delivering but in the same regard I do not go bonkers with something that would take readers 30 minutes to read. Why not just make that an eBook and sell it for 7 bucks?

    As for the post itself, adding numbers before each of my steps or tips resonates with my readers too. Order adder, so they crave the order. But really, peppering numbers anywhere within my post makes for a more pleasant, clear experience for readers. Numbers rock. If clarity is lacking, using numbers instantly clarifies things, because when you read and process numbers you instantly think in an orderly, calming fashion.

    Just deliver on your titles and you are A-OK. Some bloggers use double digit numbers in blog post titles but do not follow through with a robust, valuable post. Deliver on your promise title and you will use numbers effectively.

    Ryan

  4. Holistic Life Care Bangalore says: 12/13/2017 at 8:46 pm

    thank you……

  5. My biggest pet peeve? When someone does a round-up post that lists 57 experts say ____ and then DO NOT NUMBER the experts!

    *rolling my eyes over here*

    Thanks so much for this post. I can’t believe this stuff needed to be said, but it did, and I’m glad you said it!

  6. Hi Darren,

    Thanks for another great post. Numbers do seem to have a power all their own, at least when used properly.

    Since I like to read posts that number their main points, I also write posts that do the same thing. When I write each post I keep the reader in mind. The simpler the format, the easier it is to consume the content.

    I also like to cite original references on statistics, etc., if at all possible. Again, as a reader, I like to know that the person I’m reading after has done due diligence in presenting factual information.Therefore, I like to offer the same courtesy in my posts, too.

    Numbers are an effective tool in creating blog posts that cinch it for your reader–as long as you keep it real and deliver more than promised!

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Numbers are a universal language, and statistics will always give your post credibility even when unfounded hah.

  8. Sky Techers says: 12/14/2017 at 3:22 pm

    Always had this doubt in my mind. Numbers attract more than words..Thanks for this post

  9. It is very effective thought u have shared with us. Really i will use this way. Thanks for this post. I suggest your post to others.

  10. Listacle posts are testament to the power of numbers-help with recipes too! Thanks for another corker of a post!

  11. Really nice post…

    I am a beginner in blogging so it really help me out.

    Thanks for sharing such a useful tactics

  12. Using no. is really help to all categories blogger.

  13. Anja Skrba says: 12/19/2017 at 1:46 am

    Hello Darren,

    Honestly, I love using numbers when creating blog content! And I love reading posts like “X Different Ways To…” because they are easy to read, and you don’t have to go through it from the very beginning if you want to read the part you’re particularly interested in! I know a lot of content consumers who like going through these kind of posts backwards.

  14. Lorraine Ball says: 12/19/2017 at 4:31 am

    We have found that really small and really large numbers work well.

    Top 3.. people think I need to know that. 100 ways to… people think surely there is something on that list i can use

  15. Lucas Smith says: 12/19/2017 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for this awesome post Darren.

    Would consider focusing more on numbers next time. I’ve already tried using numbers in my previous works, usually when sharing ideas or tips, but it was just because I believe it makes a content easier to read. Wasn’t aware that it could help big time in terms of attracting reader’s attention ’till I read this post.

  16. Hello Darren,

    I am always been a fan of your PROBLOGGER, I really learn a lot when I read your post.Its encourage me to learn new things and to deploy in my work.Using numbers in a post we realy can gather a huge traffic and people got to read more content in your post. So your traffic will hook up with your topic.

    Piyali

  17. Fatama Zohora says: 12/21/2017 at 2:03 am

    Hi, Darren. Love the post. you are right.

    Statistics show list posts containing a number in the title are more likely to achieve much higher shares on average than other content formats and also it is great for SEO.

    Other than that. A bit of lazy writer as I am, can use this technique to write more than average. I outline like crazy and list of points/topics help to write effective and in depth posts.

    I do not think I would go and read something that says “100 ways or things”. I like 3-15 points, no more than that. more than 15 points you will lost me; unless the post has a very important tutorial or proven method.

    Thanks again. I would love to read your take on how lists can improve SEO. (maybe you have already written about it, direct me to the post if you can.)

  18. Ive a realtively new blog and my 50 reasons post has the more comments than all the other posts put together. Another reason its good is I can eventually take each of these reasons and expand it into a post of its own. So for me its 50 ideas for new posts

  19. Markiverse Media says: 12/28/2017 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Darren, really nice blog post

  20. Thanks Darren for sharing this wonderful article with us. I can see your efforts and really appreciate the same.