This Is The Single Best One

by Ruud Hein February 26th, 2009 

In the introduction to the Ruud Questions I wrote:

A bit like the value created by the single best link building post of 2008 (more on my reason to use the words “single” and “best” in one sentence in a later post).

Today Tadeusz Szewczyk aka onreact wrote in Top 10 Most Awesomely Amazing Creative & Funny Reasons Why Blogging for Social Media Sucks:

Top 10 this, Top 10 that. There are already top blogs that offer only top 10 lists. While numbers in posts work, 7 is my favorite, thinking in lists makes your posts shallow and just an overview without deep insight. Sometimes it’s better to focus on one issue in depth instead. Your subscribers will honor that.

But numbered lists work (quick question: for what? what do they really bring you?) and so at any given time a popular social media site can read something like this (partially blurred to protect the innocent):

If you considered for a moment that terrorists use child porn to hide secret messages in, imagine the numerical cryptographic possibilities of the above!

Reading an onslaught of numbers like this, on a social site or in my feed reader, feels like I'm back in the days of the Cold War and its number stations: "18 ... 76 .... 14 ... 319 ... 42..."


And things only got worse, right? Smashing Magazine came with monster lists like 80 Beautiful Typefaces For Professional Design or 100 Excellent Free WordPress Themes.

Like -- seriously?

Who's On Top

Listen, I come from sitting in my room, finger poised on the pause button of a cassette recorder in order to tape those Top 40 songs if only the freaking DJ would stop talking through the intro just to please whatever the then equivalent of the RIAA was.

We had lists, we had charts and -- get this -- it's all about being Number One.

It's not the "2 Football Teams That Made It Big!", it's the Super Bowl man and #1 is the winner.

They're the Single Best One.

They're on top.

Step Up To The Plate Already

by bunchofpants

That "awesome list of 10 keyword tools that do 10 things" is nothing in the end -- unless maybe when you say "but this one is the best".

Without that what are you giving people? Think they couldn't figure 10 best/funniest/whateverest things using Google as their best friend?

The money is in the expertise, the value is in you calling a spade a spade; be an the Expert and call the Single Best One.

You want to know how?

WordPress is the Single Best blogging platform. If you don't like the backend, the Single Best way to post to it is with Windows Live Writer.

A lot has been said about note taking and electronic note takers but the Single Best article on electronic note takers is The Design and Long-Term Use of a Personal Electronic Notebook: A Reflective Analysis" by Thomas Erickson.

The Single Best electronic note taker is of course Evernote.

The Single Best entry about the psychology of "being" online is The Online Disinhibition Effect.

The Single Best keyword research tool are a couple of friends or family members.

And this -- this is the Single Best One on a list of one.

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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9 Responses to “This Is The Single Best One”

  1. Hey Ruud!

    This is awesomely amazing! Thank you! In fact it's an apt way to elaborate on my point. Sadly you were fast enough to cite me before I could remove my typos.

    It must be "There are already blogs [top->that] offer only top 10 lists."

    The problem with lists and overviews is that they only are helpful when they reduce the time you need to get to know all of the list items. That is when you gain a quick overview. Otherwise you get overwhelmed by the onslaught of info and have to really check dozens of items to find the single best one.

    I'm guilty of bombarding you with lists but I'm working hard of finding other formats 😉 Now check my "40 Advanced Web Analytics for Business" list. *grin*

  2. Ruud Hein says:

    I too thought it was, in your words, insanely creative [tongue in cheek] 😉

    Changed the typo. My Friday gift.

    I agree with you (obviously, duh…) and think Ann Smarty's list posts are good examples of comparative lists. She lists 5-7 resources with their features and or pro's and con's in an easy to view table format.

    And don't forget to combine your 3 list posts about web analytics, landing pages and ad models into a list of lists post titled "100 ways to make more money right now" [grin]

  3. Yeah, Ann has a distinctive style that works both in social media as well as for an advanced audience. Good point. Thanks for the posting idea. 😉

  4. Top 10 lists still work. So do top-12, top-7, top 57, top 99, etc. But you make a great case for highliting the top single, best when it comes to recommending a tool to use…assuming that there is a single best for all situations.

  5. Ruud Hein says:

    Yes they work but… someone had to find that out, so what else, what other formats, are "hidden" that would work tremendously?

    Also, with everyone posting this week's Top 40 it's not special, doesn't stand out. Who wants to be #8 in "10 Blogs That Post Lists"?

    I'm not arguing for the format to go away of course either. But less bullet points and more to the point — I wouldn't complain.

  6. Dr. Pete says:

    Great point – How many times have I read (even on my own blog) the phrase "…in no particular order"? All that means is that we can't be bothered to take the time and energy to choose. I have two additional problems with Top 10 lists:

    (1) When someone picks the "top 10" did they read every resource ever? No, they probably read 20 and picked 10 from those, and 5 of the 10 were written by their friends. Sure, we all do it, and it's not a crime, but how often does a top-anything list really represent the wide world of what's out there?

    (2) Not to pick on people, and I think resource lists have value (I certainly love to appear on them :) ), but if we're all writing Top 10 lists, who's producing content? Personally, I'd rather be on someone else's list than write my own.

  7. Ruud Hein says:

    how often does a top-anything list really represent the wide world of what’s out there?


    Take keyword research services for example. You end up with a list of Wordtracker, Wordze, Google's own tools, Keyword Discovery and 4-5 other well knowns: that's just listing the "entire" industry…

  8. Utah SEO says:

    Top lists work well on Digg. They used to work better than they do now. But pull that on Reddit and try getting away with it.

  9. Great post Ruud! I can tell you that our industry (SEO) is probably more apt to be attracted to a Top 10 list than anything else. Maybe the numbers are industry specific?

    I do know that I like to approach the Top lists from a variety of perspectives. I may include a Top 10, and then also a Top 50 and by golly if I have them, I'll include the Top 100. Now I have Top 10, Top 50 and Top 100 to work with and potentially tripled my exposure.

    Watching Social Media for the past 6 months has opened my eyes to just how fixated people are on Top 10 lists or whatever. You can view the What's New at various outlets and get a clear picture of what people are attempting to do.

    But, I just checked Sphinn where I expected to find a plethora of numbers in titles and I'm not seeing it. I think some have realized that too much of a good thing can work against you, especially in a Sphinn type environment.

    Oh, and I know how powerful the Top 10 can be! For example, the top 10 search engines or something of that nature. :)