The Top 10 List & The Buyer's Guide

Last Update: August 16, 2020

The "Top 10 List" is a very powerful format for both ranking and for making sales. I love reading lists. I especially love reading lists from authority sources.

For a while back in the early 2010's, I was really into sci-fi movies and would always seach for top 10 lists. Of course, I started with general searches like "Top 10 Sci Fi Movies". That usually got me some pretty broad results that included anything from Blade Runner, to E.T., to 2001 Space Odyssey.

Then I narrowed my search. I then sought out things like "Top 10 Sci Fi Movies 2011".

After I watched those, I had to get more specific.

  • top 10 independent sci fi movies 2011
  • top 10 independent sci fi movies 2010
  • top 10 sci fi movies with time travel
  • top 10 black and white sci fi movies
  • top 10 sci fi moves about aliens
  • top 10 sci fi movies based on books
  • ...and so on

After so many searches I began to recognize a lot of the websites, and could remember which ones recommended good movies, and which ones were just compiled from other lists they read, or were completely off-base.

As I begain to recognize these sites, it didn't matter what the google search results were. I'd skip past result 1 and 2 in order to click on my favorite site ranked #3. Or I'd just type "best sci fi movies 2012 io9" (io9 a sci fi website).

Lists are very powerful, and you can get very specific with lists, especially if you know your niche!

The Buyer's Guide List Format For Top 10 Product Lists

A very popular format, which has definitely worked for me in the past, is the "buyer's guide" list format. Here's the basic article structure.

  1. title image
  2. introduction paragraphs
  3. chart with top product picks
  4. list items 1-10
    1. item image
    2. item description
    3. item affiliate link

The "buyer's guide" section is a place where you can break down some more specific topics about the products in your list. For example, if you're listing the top 10 DSLR cameras, your buyer's guide would include information to help you pick the best DSRL camera.

You could write this as a normal article format, paragraph by paragraph, using headings (h2, h3, h4), or you could write it as an FAQ. If you don't know what questions to include in your FAQ, you could use a resource like to come up with questions related to your product.

You could also include common complaints, troubleshooting tips, and whatever else a buyer might run into. This information can be learned by reading reviews from real buyers on Amazon, Walmart, etc places which actually sell the product.

For example, a common issue with DSLR cameras is that some of them don't stream "clean HDMI" while streaming, and this could be an issue if you plan to use the camera for Zoom meetings. Perfect for the FAQ section!

Why Does The Buyer's Guide Format Work?

I think the buyer's guide format works well for a couple of reasons.

First, it's a really long article. With 300 words for the introduction, 200 words per item description, and a 1000 word buyer's guide, you're already at almost 3000 words total for the article.

I think most newbies would faint at the idea of writing 3000 words, but if you write just ONE of these articles per week for a year, that's 52 incredible, in-depth, authorittative resources on your website after a year. That's one article per week. Working just 5 days a week, that's just 600 words per day. Then edit and publish over the weekend.

Sounds like a pretty cushy schedule to me.

Long form content tends to rank well, so these long articles work to your advantage.

Second, it's great for getting product clicks. Your affiliate links are front loaded at the top, in chart format, and in each individual "mini review" within the list.

Third, you're not just spamming your affiliate links. You are providing real content, and a full section of excellent, search engine optimized, longtail keywords within the article. That stuff is near the bottom, but it's still there, on the page.

Finally, this format is easy to understand. Commercial stuff on top, informational stuff on bottom. I think for the reader this is "comfortable" to read. It's how I prefer to read. I get the final conclusion at the top, then if I'm interested I can read the details below.

Rather than use the recipe blog format of frontloading all kinds of BS at the top, I get to know what's up right away. Personally, I hate reading an article trying to find the answer buried at the bottom.

Final Thoughts

You don't have to stick to a format to rank, and these aren't the only templates that work. However, top 10 lists and buyers guides are, at least at this point, a pretty successful format that I've used before and I'd recommend experimenting with for your own niche.

I think eventually AI might be able to make some pretty good top 10 lists on their own, so I wouldn't get too comfortable just pumping these out. Make sure to add real human value to your content. Our jobs aren't compeltely safe from the robot revolution!

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bestboots Premium
Thanks for sharing and just wondering if 10 affiliate links on a short post of say 1000 words would be bad for SEO only asking because I have done that in a few posts and thinking it might be affecting my ranking and domain authority, If so should I go back to those posts and add more words and content to them
nathaniell Premium Plus
If you have enough supporting content, 10 links is fine. If you are concerned with the SEO aspects, you can use All in One SEO to "nofollow" the links.
CordeliaN Premium
It’s that time again, Nathaniell’s post....👏

Thank you for the suggestions, it seems the simplest format, bite sized, readable, which as you have said the reader likes the simple style.
I also like the answer paragraph at the top but with more to read below in the body of the post. I think using this as a fishing hook is dead clever, something I am learning. I personally hate the YT vids and blog posts or articles which are on the initial google search but once you go into their page or vid, they are always promising to give the secret lower down in the article and force you to keep watching and reading for the answers. (Which I won’t..)

I have not seen the “buyers guide” recipe post guide and I really liked it. In fact I’m going to actually use the style for my post today. (Best foundation powders for the 50+ woman) .... it’s “make up” .. ha ha
nathaniell Premium Plus
Those are definitely the most annoying articles, and Google is figuring out how to get around this "gaming the system". Have you ever clicked a link in Google and is shoots you down further on the page with yellow highlighter?

If not, you may run into this. Google is starting to skip people's content to get to the real answer, so visitor clicks may skip all your BS content anyway. So burying the answer at the bottom of your article may be a detriment, because then the user has to scroll up to start the article from the top!
CordeliaN Premium
Grand idea.... sometimes I quite like Google lol 👏
JeffreyBrown Premium
Thanks for sharing, Nathaniel!

HildeRegine Premium Plus
Thank you! I might try this one out to see how it works!
BrendaMZ Premium Plus
Now I know what I need to do for my brand. Thanks for the tips. This is helpful. Thanks a ton!