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:
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:
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.
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?