Listicle: (n.) a piece of writing or other content presented wholly or partly in the form of a list.
BuzzFeed published countless listicles and has certainly popularized them. Examples are 11 National Parks Around the World That You Need to Add to Your Bucket List ASAP, or 26 New Science Fiction And Fantasy Books To Read This Fall and so, so many more.
Characteristics of a Listicle
- Content in a short, listed format
- The format allows readers to easily scan and digest the information presented.
- Should a reader be familiar with the topic, they can skip to the point most applicable to them
- Listicles are incredibly shareable on social platforms.
Are Listicles Out Of Fashion?
While this format of content has become mainstream they may not have what it takes to rank well under Google’s new algorithm changes. Lynda Mann of Digital Trends stated “We’ve definitely seen a bit of a decline in traffic on [short articles and listicles]. But alternately, the content that is extremely in-depth, some of our most premium stuff, we’re not seeing much of an [increase in traffic.]”
Time will tell if Google’s latest algorithm changes will negatively affect the performance of listicles. But in the meantime, don’t completely abandon this format of content. Instead, focus on how to optimize your listicle content to assist in its ability to rank in SEO and satisfy your audience.
When To Leverage Listicles
When exploring complex concepts, discussing processes with many steps, comparing products and services, formatting your content into a listicle would be appropriate. Even formulating an argument in a listicle format can be very effective. Just be sure that the breakdown of the items that comprise the listicles are consistent, parallel, and ordered logically. Remember, your readers are likely to scan the listicle rather than reading it from top to bottom. So be sure to design your listicle in a way that would make sense even when reading the list out of order.
Tips To Writing A Listicle
Avoid Click-bate Titles – There is a time, place, and manner in which to leverage click-bate titles however a listicle is rarely the place to do so. A listicle title should address what content is covered. You are encouraged to title your piece in a clever or intriguing way but don’t set unrealistic expectations.
Keywords – Bulking up your content with relevant keywords is never a bad idea. You can utilize tools such as Moz or SEM Rush or a free option like Google Keyword Planner.
Trends – Timing really is everything. You don’t want to publish a listicle on the Best Italian Ice Shop in NYC in the dead of winter. Be sure you publish relevant content. This leads us to the more nuanced side of trends which is the current sentiments. Be sure to have your finger on the pulse of the topic you are covering. By this I mean pay attention to the current conversation around the topic you are covering.
Number Items – Listicles do not need to be numbered. With that said, numbering your list could offer a better reader experience because readers have become accustomed to looking for numbered items depending on the subject matter. Using numbers for a piece comprised of a lengthy list can help the reader keep track of progress and imbue a sense of accomplishment. Also numbering items will allow the reader to refer back to the specific sections applicable to them.
The Amount Of Numbered Items – While there are countless studies offering insight on how many numbered items are best for a listicle, the amount should not play a role in developing your list. Rember, content is king. Number your list based on the subject matter. Don’t sacrifice the formatting and quality of your content by attempting to appeal to some new reader psychology study positing that 7 is better than 5.
Formatting – You may want to consider providing a list of the items at the top of your article with links to the page section of each item. This can help with readers navigating through your article, again offering a better reader experience.
Linking – Optimizing the links in your listicle there is a two-prong approach. Firstly be sure to use affiliate links to monetize your content. And be sure to properly qualify your affiliate links so that Google recognizes the relationship between your content and the site you are linking to. Here [linking to Google blog] you can learn how to properly qualify your affiliate links. Secondly, whenever applicable, be sure to link back to lengthier, in-depth content. Linking back to your own site or even other sites’ content (as long it’s high-quality) will help with your site’s SEO. It’s important to consistently work on improving your sites’ search engine ranking to legitimize your site, drive traffic and refer more sales through affiliate links.