Listicles are very versatile and quite easy to create, yet, unfortunately, they, more often than not, suffer from a bad reputation. In today’s digital world where high-quality content is becoming more and more important, one can easily drown in a sea of poorly-written list posts that give little to no value to readers.
However, it doesn’t need to be so. When you put some effort into them, list posts can greatly benefit your content marketing strategy. They make for highly-clickable headlines, break down complex topics into easily digestible bits, and help create a seamless overall reading experience.
While browsing online for business or entertainment, you have certainly come across many listicles, (probably, without even knowing that they are called this) and you will very likely continue to. The format has been popular since forever and, in the modern age, has taken over the internet as well.
If you want to write a list article yourself and you’re not sure where to start, then this blog post is just what you’ve been looking for.
Read on to learn more about why listicles work and how to write one in six easy steps.
What Is a Listicle?
Listicles, or list-posts, are, essentially, articles written in list format. They are meant to either educate or entertain readers, and provide relevant information in a neatly organized way. Each list item further expands on the topic with an additional asset so the content is useful to readers.
For example, you can read an informative listicle like “7 Social Media Video Marketing Ideas That Are Perfect for eCommerce” or a more fun one like “11 of the Cleanest WordPress Themes to Consider Today!”.
When writing listicles yourself, you should focus on topics that can grab the attention of your audience and can, at the same time, be beneficial to your content strategy.
The top benefit of listicles is that readers simply love them! And why wouldn’t they? These types of posts are easy to scan, and specifically outline what you can learn from reading them.
This can work wonders for drier topics that aim to educate the readers and attract leads. The viewer is able to quickly review the information without feeling overwhelmed by the length of content.
Moreover, listicles are perfect to boost engagement on social media platforms. You can share each list item in a separate post or as slides or stories. This way, you can break the complex information into bite-sized chunks and present them in a more engaging way.
On top of that, search engines favor list titles as well, especially when creating featured snippets. Algorithms prefer content that is already organized, this way they can easily extract the information they need and provide it in a special result in the SERPs.
How to Write a Listicle?
Now that you know what a listicle is and what its benefits are, let’s go over the main steps that writing one involves:
1. Pick a Relevant Topic
As with any other type of content, the very first step in writing a listicle is to choose your topic. You can pick, practically, any theme you like and that aligns with your content creation objectives.
What makes listicles so great is that they don’t need to be exhaustive. They are like an editor’s pick on a topic – the title implies that the post is a POV. This gives you the freedom to explore your preferred components of a topic, without the fear that you may miss something important.
For example, if you’re writing for a business blog, the topic should be relevant to the audience and provide them with valuable information that they can use. If you’re writing for your own personal blog you can focus on any idea that you’ve wanted to tackle for a while, and give it your own twist.
Additionally, for your listicle to drive traffic to your website, it’s essential to pick a topic that people are already interested in learning more about and keying in search engines. To that end, it’s essential to research and include relevant keywords and optimize the content properly.
2. Choose an Angle
After you’ve settled on what your listicle will be about, you need to make sure that the exact topic you choose is suitable for the format. While you can choose an angle based solely on what feels most interesting, it’s better to take inspiration from the top search results and keywords. Furthermore, make sure that you research what’s already been said on the subject, and make sure that your list is original and adds more value to the topic.
For example, in the query “How to Make Great Pasta”, you can tell that people are looking for a step-by-step process, not a listicle with lots of different methods. “Tips on How to Make Great Pasta”, on the other hand, tells a different story – the person already knows how to cook their pasta, but is looking for suggestions on how to up their game.
The most successful list-posts usually focus on:
- XX Ways to… Ways to accomplish a task.
- XX Benefits of… Advantages to doing something.
- XX Reasons to… Reasons why doing something is/isn’t beneficial.t.
- Top XX Best [Insert Product Name Here]… Tools and products charts relevant to your business field and/or your customer’s interests.
- XX Tips / Ideas for… Tips and ideas that may assist and inspire your clients in their day-to-day lives.
Pro Tip: Although the key to clickable listicles is to write a compelling title, make sure to stay clear of clickbait. If you can’t deliver on your promises, choose something else, or delve deeper into your research.
3. Decide on the Right Length
Another important thing to consider when writing a listicle is the length of the list. A good rule of thumb to follow is to roughly match the number of list items in your article with the number of items you see among top-ranking pages.
For example, if you have chosen a topic for which the top-ranking listicles have 20+ items, then a list of five items probably isn’t what searchers are looking for.
However, it depends on the topic. If all the listicles are long and blabbery, customers may be eager to find a source that provides concise and on-point information that saves them time.
For example, “Top 5 SEO Tools to Skyrocket Your Small Business” is way more compelling than “28 SEO Tools for Small Businesses”.
Also, there are so-called “magic” numbers that tend to attract people’s attention more than others, such as 5, 7, and 10. If you have these in your title, chances are that more clicks will come. This, of course, doesn’t mean you should remove entries from your list, or add something meaningless, if, for example, you’ve come up with 9 ideas. Writing 7+ in the title can do the trick for you!
4. Think About the Points You Want to Make
The next thing that you should consider when writing a listicle, is to be smart about the points you are making. As mentioned, people usually scan this type of content before they read it, and if what they see doesn’t make sense or is the same as everyone else’s, they will most likely leave.
The most straightforward way to tell if a list post is good or not is to check if what it contains is useful information, rather than fluff, and that it actually provides value to the readers.
The points you make on your list don’t have to be completely new to all your readers. However, you should include at least two or three unique ideas. After all, even if a listicle focuses on a more popular topic, this doesn’t mean that it should repeat only already known information.
5. Choose a Proper Format
The structure of your listicle largely depends on how much detail you want to include as you start expanding on the separate list items.
With that being said, you can differentiate between two types of lists:
- Simple Lists. These usually have many points, each of which includes only a few sentences. The goal is to inform the reader of as many options as possible and top what competitors have already said by adding a few new possibilities.
- Detailed Lists. These types of listicles usually have fewer entries and each one goes into detail and provides exhaustive information. Depending on the topic, the goal can be to help the reader make an informed choice, or explain the reasons behind your pick.
Whichever format you decide to go with, make sure to keep the angle of your listicle in mind and relate each point to it.
For example, if your listicle is aimed at everyday readers, avoid using complex sentences and unnecessary jargon that is extremely specific to a topic . If you want to write from a personal experience, each point on your list will give you an opportunity to expand on your thoughts and opinions.
We mentioned earlier that one of the advantages of listicles is that they are easy to skim.
If you want to make your readers’ experience even better, you should consider adding related images and illustrations to break things up. This is beneficial because viewers will better understand and remember the points you’re making, especially if your list is longer or more detailed.
Make sure that any visuals included in your post are SEO optimized. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend a great amount of time creating the most informative and visually pleasing listicle only to have just a few reads. You can avoid this by including the relevant alt tags, making cool and shareable graphics, and optimizing the image files for page speed.
Now that you know the main benefits of listicles, you can better leverage them in your content marketing strategy. These types of posts can help you attract the reader’s attention and build brand awareness. Furthermore, they have high SEO value and can boost your website’s visibility.
Start with a simple list and add more details as you go. Keep it simple and to the point and make sure not to stray too far off-topic as you develop your points. Also, don’t forget about the power of images.