Why are listicles like potato chips? Because we can’t stop reading them! Easy to digest with their scannable content, list articles break down information into manageable portions. Readers with or without short attention spans enjoy the listicle format, but exactly what gives us that idea? Buzzfeed built a $1.5 billion business based on list posts. And, of course, business after business can attest that their blog post listicles get readers to pay attention–and they can measure that reader interest with analytics.
Sure, some listicles might be little more than vehicles for target keyword phrasing to generate more traffic for a blog. They might come with clickbait titles, a few relevant images, and pretty obvious points, but listicles can also be pretty comprehensive. In fact, listicles work as vehicles for even a complicated topic. A great listicle can provide extra detail, a unique angle, and list points that are genuinely informative. In short, the listicle format isn’t just entertaining; it can be high quality content that readers will not only read but can help drive website traffic, helping businesses promote their brand, products, and services.
Here is a step-by-step guide about how to write a listicle.
A strong title or headline is crucial for your blog post, article, ad–any type of content. An eye-catching title is the key to attracting viewers. First, you’ll want to include a target keyword or two to ensure your listicle title pops up in search results, but search engine optimization aside, power words, especially verbs, compel potential readers to take notice. In fact, marketers have long used words like free, easy, and profit to “trigger psychological and emotional responses” that convince readers to click into their listicle or article.
Second, ensure that the title you write conveys a benefit that will let people know what they can take away after reading the listicle. In other words, let them know up front what your listicle post has to offer them. The title should be catchy but also informative. Each time you read a listicle, check the title. If the title grabbed you, consider why. It can help you write better titles too.
Readers tend to expect listicles, unlike regular articles, to feature some surprising information. While most list form articles tell readers what to expect, readers also know that the list points are also likely to contain useful or entertaining information that they didn’t know before. People know this from personal experience with list posts.
Of course, there’s no necessity for ensuring that all the information or bullet points on your list are something new under the sun, because even some ‘expected points’ will serve to confirm what many individuals may believe they knew about a given topic. However, successful listicles will convey relevant information that is worth readers’ time. Writing content that makes sense (and includes a useful link) will keep potential customers reading your listicle post.
Large blocks of text are not ideal for listicles. People expect to read compact portions of useful information broken up with images, bullet points, and maybe even a section for comments—keep your content snackable. Readers don’t click into list posts to encounter War and Peace; they expect to encounter content arranged in a particular order with easy-to-find key points. Your list post may also feature an introduction and a conclusion too.
When text is too long, it can become intimidating for people with a short attention span but also for some who simply don’t have the time or want to invest the time to digest long pieces of complex content such as a long form blog post. Moreover, it’s easier for most readers to absorb more compact pieces of interesting content contained in a listicle.
List posts tend to combine text and imagery well. The images help to hook viewers more deeply into the content and compel them to keep scrolling. Relevant visuals grab the reader’s attention and also help to break up the article’s main points. Images can also provide an anchor for each point in your listicle post and website page, helping to make it more memorable–even shareable.
Images can also serve to promote a more emotional connection between viewers and the blog post. Images can also reach people on an emotional level, which is less easy to do with text-based content or listicle. Lastly, images make your list article and website page more SEO friendly and poised to boost search traffic. Search engines such as Google tend to favor dynamic content that includes images or even videos as well as a link to other quality content. In fact, it doesn’t hurt for each list item to content a relevant link.
When you’re writing your own listicles, take time to examine Google’s People Always Ask (PPA) feature so that you have some idea of questions that people pose in relation to the topic you have in mind. This will help you create a listicle with points that are more valuable for your post viewers. Naturally, you want all of your listicles to contain valuable content that’s worth your readers’ time. Otherwise, why would they read the other content or subsequent listicles you write?
By improving the quality of the listicles you write, you can also ensure that they are more likely to come up early in a Google search. By including Google PAA content in your listicle, you can make it more SEO friendly.
Any blog post you write should involve some keyword research. Keywords alert the search engines that your listicle contains information that’s relative to a given topic. Moreover, don’t assume that you’re aware of all the keyword and keyword phrases associated with your topic. As you perform the research, you’re apt to be surprised at just how many words you could be ranking for but aren’t. It takes a bit more time to create listicles that include researched keywords, but remember–your content can keep on working for you for a long time. Investing a small amount of time to write higher quality listicles will ensure that they market for your business long after you publish them.
SEO experts tend to vary in their numbers, but it’s a good rule of thumb to have at least 23 keywords placed in your blog post in order to rank well. Of course, you don’t want to overstuff your listicles with them, but it’s important to keep SEO in mind whenever you create interesting new content to post online. Not sure how to conduct keyword research? You can simply use free tools that will help you write keyword rich list items for your listicle post.
Well written listicles about any given subject remain popular because they have a tendency to pique the interest of people, offer easily digestible snippets of content, and appeal to our brains’ sense of organization. Reading a listicle also doesn’t require a huge time commitment. The best list posts contain useful information with no fluff.
A published listicle can be a blog post or an article. In fact, the list format lends itself to numerous pieces of content type, including infographics and vlogs.
Pro tip: change up your listicle content periodically. Include a numbered list from time to time or list items that are organized in some other way. As an example, organize your listicle in chronological order.
There is not one single listicle format standard. Some content creators will write numbered lists, while others do not. Keep in mind, however, that when proposing content for a listicle post, be sure that it translates well to the list format. When writing a listicle, use the tips outlined here to help. To promote engagement with viewers, ensure your published content has a comments section. Websites with a place for comments and conversation can also support your SEO.
A listicle features content that is either wholly or partially in list form. Containing content that makes sense to the points lists main subject matter, a good listicle hooks readers’ attention. A listicle can also contain a link to more expansive information contained on another page for people who want more in-depth content on a subject. Like any article, a listicle can feature an introduction and conclusion, too.
Of course! Buzzfeed may have made listicles trendy pieces of content, but the list format has tremendous staying power. The reasons people enjoy reading well-written listicles are unlikely to get old in 2022, 2032, and so on.
List posts will, indeed, support your SEO, provided that you produce quality content within them. As with any blog post, your listicles should feature useful information, well written text, a link or two to other quality websites, and other SEO friendly measures you use to write articles. Google is always going to pay attention to articles or a listicle that are optimized and help support your website’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E A T).
Stretch Creative features a team of experienced content specialists who can write in the listicle format or, indeed, any format your business requires whether website pages and email marketing or social media posts and white papers. Our writers partner with clients to produce quality content that helps businesses improve their SEO, sell more products and services, engage readers, and promote greater brand recognition online.
If your business needs content, consult with a project manager at Stretch Creative. We feature a process that allows us to easily partner with clients to learn about their unique brand and marketing goals. We can then create custom content, including listicles, that are aligned with these goals. Whether you want to publish listicles, other types of blog posts, or other essential digital content, Stretch Creative can help.
Chris Reid is the Founder and CEO of Stretch Creative. He is an industry veteran who's helped thousands of writers and worked with emerging brands to Fortune 100. He started Stretch to create a better experience for all creatives—treated fairly and given the support they need to grow as incredible creatives and people.