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6 Tips on How to Write a Great Listicle

How to Write a Great Listicle
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Creating good blog content for your site or brand page doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be a healthy mix of informative and engaging. One of the easiest ways to make business content more readable, digestible, and gripping is to turn the content into a listicle.

The listicle format can be especially effective for readers with short attention spans, which, with the rise of time-restrictive social media content, is an audience that has grown more and more. Each chunk of short-form writing invites the reader to engage deeper into your content without a large body of text that they may not have time to read.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes content a listicle and some tips for writing a great piece of listicle content.

difference between an article and a listicle?

What is the difference between an article and a listicle?

What is a listicle? Exactly what it sounds like. It’s an article formatted into a list with snackable content, or quick-read sections, that helps the reader get through the piece one chunk of information at a time.

You’ve probably seen content like this throughout the internet, from media websites and businesses alike, grow in popularity over the past several years. What once sounded like a ridiculous way to describe list-based content was formalized in 2007, when Merriam-Webster actually added the word to their dictionary. Listicles were legitimized as an appropriate way to provide the ultimate user experience for audiences that preferred not to read long narrative text.

Students at the University of Chicago said that listicles, unlike other forms of content, truly capture the “essence of language” in the way that a listicle is often written the way a person would actually speak, cataloging in a type of chronological order that makes the audience more easily digest the information. While articles tend to be written in a more long-form, narrative way, listicles are designed for the reader who wants to quickly grasp a topic and move on.

Finding listicle blog ideas does not have to be complicated, as most topics that include multiple items can be written in listicle form. But not all articles are meant to be written in listicles. For instance, if you’re telling the story of how a business was founded, a narrative piece may be more appropriate.

Why are listicles popular?

BuzzFeed was one of the first media sites of its kind to change the format of traditional storytelling, taking readers for a ride of endless scrolling while they go on to find out the information they initially clicked into an article for. As listicles have continued to gain popularity across the internet, more businesses have adopted integrating listicles into their content strategy, including ClearVoice.

What are listicles in social media?

What are listicles in social media?

Word memes, or written content graphics, have gained virality across social media and, as such, listicles have likely infiltrated your Instagram or Twitter feed.

Listicles in social media can be presented in all different ways, from the items being listed in text in a tweet, Facebook or Instagram post to a carousel of images.

Here are a few examples:

While all four of these tips for good habits to practice before bed could have easily been written out in one Instagram image, the carousel effect encourages the reader to flip through and engage with the content. This can be an effective way to capture and keep your audience’s interest in a listicle on social media.

 

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This other approach puts all of the content of your social media listicle in front of the user in one easy-to-read graphic. Still, the value of the listicle in this type of social media content is higher than a singular suggestion in the post.

How can listicles lead to better traffic?

Depending on how the site your listicle is housed on is set up, a reader could easily scroll from your article into another… and another…  and another. For most sites, this infinite scroll functionality could lead to double-digit pageviews. According to Semrush, articles that include a list in the content drive an average of 2x the amount of traffic than an article without a list.

A strong listicle will engage your audience enough for them to scroll at least until the end of your article, but hopefully into more content on your site as well. It is important, however, to make sure that if you’re teasing the reader with a reason to scroll to the bottom of your article, the payoff is there. Be cautious not to clickbait your audience with a strong headline and have them scroll to the end of the article, only to not find the answer to the question or topic you drew them into your content with.

Why are listicles good for SEO?

Listicles are especially great for search engine optimization (SEO) because they give you the opportunity to beef up your article with more keywords and keyword phrases. Each time you list a new item with a subhead, you’re letting search engines know your piece of content covers that specific keyword or keyword phrase. Using smart keywords in your subheads can be a powerful tool for alerting the reader and the search engines that your article covers what they’re looking for, according to Search Engine Journal.

Whereas an article may cover only one specific topic or item, a listicle usually includes several that all fall under one topical umbrella. With each listicle item, there is also more opportunity to add links back to internal or external references, which also helps with SEO.

How to write listicles: tips and examples

How to write listicles: tips and examples

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about what a listicle is and when it’s appropriate to use a listicle in your content, let’s go over some tips on how to craft a great listicle.

  1. Consider your audience: Are you writing for casual readers looking to your content to be entertained, or is the target audience of your content more business-oriented? If the audience is more casual, consider adding embedded or uploaded media to your listicle items to further engage your readers in the content. If the tone of your content is humorous, add GIFs or memes to lengthen each listicle item beyond the content you write.
  2. Plan out each listicle item first: Before you fill in the content of each listicle item, plan out your listicle and each item you want to cover in the overall article. This will help you stay organized and make writing each section easier for you.
  3. Research keywords (if writing for SEO): Just like any piece of SEO content, if the goal of your content is for it to rank high among search engine results pages (SERPS), do some keyword research before you begin to write your listicle and make sure you are including keywords and keyword phrases with high search volume. Find ways to include those high-value keyword phrases throughout your listicle content. Bonus points if they can be included in your listicle items’ subheads.
  4. Research your competition: Along with doing some light-to-moderate SEO research, you’ll also want to make sure you spend some time researching your competitors and consider how they have presented content on your topic. What has your competitor done that you could do better? Maybe they have created a listicle on the same topic, but it’s not very deep. Consider adding more items to your listicle that your competitor may not have covered.
  5. Write an odd number of list items: Because search engines are commonly fed with listicles of standard numbers (ex. “5 Tips for Improving Your Copywriting Skills” or “10 Ways to Write a Listicle for Your Content Marketing Blog”), give your listicle an odd or unusual number to help it stand out. If you plan to go back to your listicle at a later time and add more content to it, leave the number of items out of the slug but include it in your title.
  6. When possible, have list items open up to new landing pages: The goal is to have your reader scroll as long as possible through your listicle. If you are backlinking or linking to external sites from your listicle items, you want to try to keep your reader on your page. If it is possible, consider designing your links to open in in new landing pages in other tabs.

Listicle examples

You can see an example of listicle content from ClearVoice in “Mantras for a Better Freelance Writing Portfolio to Catapult Your Career.” You may notice that the listicle items are not numbered — that’s OK. They do not need to be as long as there is a list of items for the reader to scroll through.

Check out some more listicle examples from ClearVoice:

If you need help getting started, our team has created a customizable template for you to use to create your own listicle.

While articles tend to be written in a more long-form, narrative way, listicles are designed for the reader who wants to quickly grasp a topic and move on. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

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About the author

Ariana Sheehan