Why Your Book Recommendation Posts Should Have More Than Three Books Listed

Frequently when I am blog hopping or scrolling through my WordPress reader, I find posts titled things like “Three Books about Mermaids” or “Two Books Featuring Mermaids.” Or maybe it’s just titled “Fun Middle Grade Fantasies You Should Read,” but when I open the post, there are only three book recommendations. Lists that are this short are always disappointing to me, and when I do book recommendations, I aim to list at least five books, but preferably 10 or more. Here’s why you might want to make your own book rec lists longer:

1

Longer Lists are Better for Blog Traffic

If you’re interested in growing your blog traffic, particularly in getting more hits from search engines, longer lists are your friend. When people go to Google and search something like, “Books Set in New York City,” the top results are probably going to be lists with 10, 20, or even more books included on them. If your list only has three books on it, there’s a good chance that a list of 20 or 50 books already includes the three you are featuring. So the search engine is going to recognize that and feature blogs and websites with long lists as their top results. If you want to rank, you need to think of other sites as your “competition” and provide information that is as or more valuable than what they are providing.

Example: A quick Google search gives me these top two results of lists with 31 and 40 books respectively:

2

Short Lists Are Less Useful to Readers Because They Eliminate Half the Books on the List Anyway

Even when I want to read a book about a certain topic, I don’t have an interest in every book about that topic. There are thousands of books about dragons, but if someone lists “three books about dragons,” there’s a very good chance I am going to look at that short list and think, “no, no, no,” and leave without adding a single one of them to my TBR pile.

This is particularly true if the topic of the list is very broad. What is even on a list of three books about dragons? Are all of them YA books? If I don’t like YA, I automatically will have no interest in any of them. But maybe they’re all different age categories. Maybe this three-book list includes one picture books about dragons, one middle grade fantasy, and one adult nonfiction book about the history of dragons featured in literature. This is interestingly varied, but if I am looking for a middle grade book about dragons, only one book on the list applies to me — and I might have already read it or not be interested in reading it for some reason. If I am looking for a YA dragon book, none of the recommendations help me at all.

This is why longer lists are more helpful to readers and more likely to provide them with valuable information to, ultimately, actually add one of the books to their TBR pile.

If you have a list of 40 books about dragons, you can now break it into categories: 10 picture books, 10 middle grade books, 10 YA books, and 10 adult books.

Alternatively, you can narrow the topic of your list: 40 middle grade books about dragons. And you can make it as narrow as you want, as long as you have enough books to make a decent-sized list. 20 middle grade books about dragons published in the last 10 years. 20 diverse middle grade books with dragons. 30 middle grade books with dragons that can talk. Now, if someone has an interest in this topic, the list has a lot of information for them to help them find a new book to read.

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One challenge I personally find to making very long lists is that I generally like to feature books I have read myself or that I feel I know enough to confidently recommend. If I were to make a list titled, “100 books set in Florida,” there is no way I will have read all of them, so making the list would basically involve Googling and finding other people’s lists and taking the books off those list to add to mine. This is definitely something people do, particularly bloggers who are blogging to make money and need their posts to rank highly in Google, as well as large bookish sites. You know whoever makes the Penguin Random House lists hasn’t personally read all 40 books they’re recommending on a single topic. So whether you’re comfortable making lists that include a lot of books you don’t know much about is up to you. I’m generally not, which is why most of my lists are 10-15 books instead of 45.

Do you prefer reading longer lists? How many recommendations on a list are you usually interested in?

Briana

17 thoughts on “Why Your Book Recommendation Posts Should Have More Than Three Books Listed

  1. Kristina says:

    That’s a very interresting take! I did notice that too.. and most cases you’re right, I leave the post without anything added to my tbr- and cant even comment anything either. Especially worst if 2/3 are hyped books youve just seen everywhere.

    Ive only done a few lists on specific topics so far- which hasn’t gotten much traction to be honest.. but I do like to ramble/explain before my actual list; so its a sort of conversation post mixed in(?). Even then, the shortest I did was 6, highest being 12. I believe between 5-10 is a good average amount.. and definately much better than three.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      That’s very true about the hyped books! It’s like when someone has a short list of “adult fantasy you should read” and 2/3 books are JRR Tolkien and Brandon Sanderson! OF COURSE people already know about those books if they’re interested in fantasy!

      I feel like my lists need to be just right to get search engine hits. It can’t be a really popular topic because there are too many other pages to compete with, but it can’t be too not popular or nobody searches for it. So I just do what I want. :p

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Books Teacup and Reviews says:

    I agree with you and Traffic or no traffic, it’s more honest approach to stick to list of books I have read than brave adding books that I haven’t read and I’m not sure what I should say on suggesting them.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, huge lists of books I know the blogger hasn’t actually read always feel impersonal to me, and I know that I at least read blogs because I like the personality and like to trust the opinion of the blogger. If I just wanted to Google “dragon books” and compile a list, I could do that myself; it’s more interesting to see dragon books the blogger has read or at least has read enough reviews of, etc. to feel pretty confident recommending.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Emily @frappesandfiction says:

    This is a really good post! My lists are usually 5-15 books long, because if I went any longer than that I’d have to list books I haven’t read and I don’t like doing that unless it’s a TBR post. Also, it can take a while to write lists since I like making long descriptions of each book on my lists. Nice food for thought

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I agree! I like to feature mostly books that Krysta or I have actually read, which does limit how many I can include, but I think the personal touch is what makes blogs interesting to read. If I wanted completely random books about a topic that other people put onto lists, I could just Google that myself, not go to a blog where they stole other people’s lists to make their own list!

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  4. Krysta says:

    I think that a list should have at least five books, though I would argue that 10 is better as a minimum, if it can be achieved. Usually when I see a list I will, as you say, scan and it immediately dismiss a bunch of entries as books I’ve already read, or am not interested in for some reason. So longer lists are definitely more helpful to me since they give me more options to choose from. I also like when there’s some description of the books on the list. If a list has 50 books, but I have to search each title individually for a plot synopsis, that list isn’t very user-friendly.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Exactly! It baffles me when people have really short lists because the chances I am not interested in any of the 3 books listed are very high!

      That’s true, too. If it’s just a list of the titles and doesn’t say anything, that doesn’t help me decide if I’m interested in the books either.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lory says:

    10 is a pretty good number. More than that and I may start to lose interest. I hadn’t realized that search engines will privilege longer lists — but I think I’d stay under a dozen for mine anyway. Thanks for these interesting points!

    Like

  6. Michael J. Miller says:

    I’m very much a “The more information the better!” kinda person. So yeah, the longer the list the more I’d be interested in perusing it. I personally don’t write a lot of list posts (mainly because the shorter summaries I would put with what I was recommending isn’t my forte XD (and those little list posts tend to turn into much longer posts about something that was going to be part of the initial list)) but I do seek them out often. Whether I’m looking for something to read or something to give me a sense for what’s been written in an area, the more I can find the better. I do appreciate the lists featuring books the author has read. When I see that I know these (most likely) aren’t the only ten books on dragons they’ve ever read. Rather, they thought about the topic and intentionally chose these books to suit the purpose of their list.

    Like

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