13 Tested and Proven Ways to Write a Listicle (An Ultimate Guide to Listicles)
Do you know the best way to write a listicle?
Listicles are one of the most read types of articles on the internet. If you’re not writing listicle blog posts, you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic and even backlinks.
I challenge you to get on Google and search for any keyword. I guarantee that most of the results will be numerically listed articles, which are called listicles. That’s how popular that format of blogging is on today’s internet.
In this guide, I’m going to show you 13 of the best ways to write a listicle so that you, too, can get your content to the top of the blogging food chain.
What is and why Write a Listicle?
A listicle is a type of article that displays lists of items within a specific topic.
This blog post is a listicle. I’m giving you 13 ways to write a listicle. The 13 ways are what make it a listicle because it lists 13 different methods of writing better listicle-based blog posts.
The difference between a listicle and a standard article is the format. A listicle is a list of sections, while an article may not have sections or has fewer sections added. A listicle is typically organized, and some links to other articles for each listing.
As I said above, Google any keyword, and nine times out of ten, most of your results on the first page will be listicles. Writing the listicle format is a great way to do better at search engines.
Listicles help with search engine optimization (SEO). They typically get a lot of traffic. You can also do Q&A formats, which may result in getting listed on the “People also ask” section of search engines. Lists are typically short and are easier to scan, keeping people on your post longer, which helps with bounce rate and SEO in general.
Now that you know what a listicle is, you also know why it’s beneficial for you to use the format on your blog.
Best Ways to Write a Listicle
Now, on to the meat of this listicle, showing you how to write a listicle that people will absolutely love.
1 – How to Choose the Best Topic for Your Listicle?
Make sure you choose the best topics when you write a listicle for your blog.
You’ll find the best topics by doing keyword research. Keyword research is usually done with tools such as SEM Rush, Ahrefs, and Keywords Everywhere. The idea is to find terms used by searchers that are not too competitive but have a good search volume. You’ll then implement these terms into your content to show search engines what keywords you’re targeting. Keyword research is fundamental to SEO.
You also need to research your audience. The only way to find out the best topics to write a listicle for is to know what topics your audience wants to read about. What are their needs and wants? What are the biggest questions and challenges of your niche? Those are going to be your best topic ideas.
You will also need to research your competition and their content. Read similar articles, especially their listicles that cover content you plan to compete for. You’ll need to cover the same ground but in your own words. Then, you need to add extra value and fill in the gaps that your competition has missed.
The topic really does matter when you write a listicle. If you get this part wrong, it could ruin all your efforts.
2 – How to Make Your Listicle Make Sense?
After you write a listicle, read it out loud and ask someone else you know to read it. It needs to make sense before you publish it.
Every sentence you put on your listicle needs to make sense. Every sentence matters. You should audit every sentence you include. Sometimes, you’ll learn that a sentence needs to be changed. Sometimes, the sentence needs to be removed. Everything needs to be clear and to the point.
Your title needs to be clear. It’s the most important part of your post. Everyone judges a book by its cover, and your title is the cover of your post. If it doesn’t catch the attention of your readers and hook them in, then you have a bad title. Experiment and do some A/B testing to find out what makes a perfect title.
Don’t use clickbait. Bloggers are so easily hung up on using clickbait. The problem is that it often results in losing trust because the majority of clickbait articles don’t live up to what the title promises. Social platforms and search engines might also “hide” your content because they detect you’re using clickbait, which is often associated with fraud and virus usage.
If you write a listicle and it doesn’t make sense to your ideal reader, don’t expect them to read it.
3 – How to Decide on your Listicle’s Number Length?
Deciding on how many numbers to list on a listicle is often what stops most bloggers dead in their tracks. There isn’t a magical number, but there are suggested techniques.
Make sure when you create your listicle you’re adding the numbers to each listed section. You can see that this section is 3. It isn’t a great-looking listicle without each section defining what number the section is.
Be logical about how many listing sections you choose. If you write a listicle with 100 sections, you’ll want to add shorter lengths for each section. No one wants to read large blocks of text for every 100 sections. If your listicle is shorter, you can add longer sections.
Utilize odd numbers. This listicle uses 13 sections. I chose 13 strategically. It’s because it’s an odd number, and odd numbers get noticed quicker. That’s because they’re odd and not used as much as even numbers are. Everyone uses 20, but hardly anyone will use 27. And because 27 isn’t used much, it is typically noticed faster because of that.
A good rule of thumb is to Google the target keyword that you plan to write a listicle for. Then, take all the listicles from page one and look for the highest number. Then double that number and add an extra if you need to make it an odd number. People like more choices.
Try not to choose a “lucky number” and stick with it. It’s okay to write a listicle using 27 a few times. But try to use other numbers, too. Try both big and small. Get creative and take advantage of the fact that listicles, big and small, do better on search than most other content.
4 – How to Format Your Listicle?
A good listicle is formatted well. The format is important; otherwise, a clunky, disorganized listicle might scare away readers.
As I said above, the number of points or sections matters when formatting for content length. If you go with 101 points, no one is going to want to read several paragraphs for each 101 points. They want to see a quick sentence that gets to the point. When the list is MUCH shorter, you can have longer content or if it’s technical like this listicle.
Jump-to menus are basically a table of contents that typically shows on your listicle right after the main introduction of the article. Readers should be able to click on each numbered section. These menus have already been said to be beneficial for search engine ranking. For longer listicles, you should definitely use them as it will make engaging with your article easier for readers.
Make sure you write a listicle that is scannable by your readers. Most readers will not read every bit of your post word for word. Most people (me included) scan through, looking for the best parts. If your listicle isn’t scannable, it probably won’t get many readers.
For more readers, make sure you keep formatting in mind when you write a listicle for your blog.
5 – How to Choose a Winning Angle for Your Listicle?
In order to make the most out of a listicle and get the best response, you need to set it up to have a winning angle.
I’ve told you that you need to have an attention-catching title. You also need to have attention-catching section headers for each numbered point. You can do this by adding trigger words that catch the attention of the reader and give them some kind of emotional response. Words like “best” and “free” are trigger words.
Make sure your title and section headings are clear and concise. If people have to try to think about what they mean, chances are, they’ll press back and move on to something else. Your title and section headers need to get to the point and explain what readers will be reading about.
Treat your listicle and any article you write, for that matter, like a best-selling novel. Every word, every sentence, every heading, and everything about the article needs to be written in a way that keeps the reader hooked to the article. You might even read a few great novels to get ideas on how to format blog posts to mimic the novels and to get better at storytelling.
When you write a listicle with winning in mind, you’re able to write a masterpiece that has the potential to be a real winner.
6 – How to Brainstorm Your Listicle Points?
To write a listicle, you have to put in the research. It’s not something as simple as putting a list of things in an article and then publishing it.
Like with any other article, value is your biggest objective. If each point isn’t giving away a resource or making a positive impact on the life of the reader (or some other emotionally invested thing), then there is a failure to add value taking place. Without value on each point, your listicle will fail.
Don’t add fluff to your listicle. Fluff or filler content is meant to make an article look longer in length. This is usually an attempt to make a blog post look bigger than the competition. But the problem is that the content typically bores readers, and they click off to go to the competition instead, or whoever hasn’t ruined their content with fluff.
7 – How to Expand Your Ideas on Your Listicle?
When trying to make the best listicle, you should always expand the ideas of each point more so than the competition has.
And while I always recommend including the same information as the competing article but in your own words, you still MUST give something new to the reader. This is where you add your own touch extra points of view and fill any content gaps that your competition has left out. Everyone leaves stuff out, even me, and you will.
Keep all your listicles in mind when creating them. You should have a goal to eventually edit each of them and make a landing page for each point. If each point can go to a page with even more dedicated information on it, you’ll have a highly value-packed listicle on your hands.
Make sure the content you include in your listicle is worth including for the very best results.
8 – How to Flesh Out Each Point on Your Listicle?
Each point (numbered list section) of your listicle is like its own individual article. You should treat each point like their own article, too.
You have figured out a great way to write a listicle that defines each point. But you have to do this in a way that is clear and concise and uses fewer words. In most cases, you’ll want to use fewer words, shorter sentences, and small paragraphs when you write a listicle.
You can keep each point short and still add value by giving a lot of information through cross-promotional tactics. This means that you can link to your other articles that are dedicated to giving more information. If you haven’t written any of them, then add those to your list of articles to be written. Keep your listicle section short and link to a more detailed article about the subject.
One of the best ways to keep a listicle clear and concise without adding too much content is to use examples. Examples are a great way to inform readers of the point you’re trying to make. This is because you’re giving them a real-life scenario of what has happened to prove the point. This allows you to give vital information without needing to write a book for each point of the listicle.
Be sure to keep your list consistent while focusing on keeping it shorter and scannable, and you have plenty of readers enjoying your listicle content format.
9 – How to Illustrate Your Listicle Points?
Sometimes words aren’t enough, and sometimes words are too much – so what does a blogger do? You illustrate that’s what you do!
One of the best ways to illustrate your listicle is by using images. This is something I do on my hiking blog when I make top 20 trail posts or something like that. I start with the trail name as a numbered header item. Then, I add a short description. I then follow it with a high-quality but fast-loading photo of the hiking area. After that, I include all the rest of the content for that point. Try to adopt a similar method for your niche on your blog when you write a listicle.
I also add videos to my content when appropriate. I typically add them after a bigger block of content I add after adding an image to each section of my hiking trails listicle. My videos will showcase some of the stuff they’ll see on the trail. Between the videos, photos, and content – these types of listicles typically are the most-read articles on my blog.
If you have the time and resources to do it, I highly recommend adding your own photos and videos to each listicle area to make it more engaging for your readers. It will pay off in the end and be a better listicle than what anyone else has made.
10 – How to Promote a Listicle on Social Media?
There are two ways to promote your listicle on social media. Promoting on social media is important because, aside from SEO, it’s going to likely be your biggest source of traffic.
The first method of promoting on social media is to just promote the listicle outright. This is where you post the link to the article. You’ll want to add some words to the post to describe what your followers will be clicking on. You’ll want to use relevant hashtags. Do note that this method isn’t always effective because many social media platforms have their algorithms set to put less viewing capabilities on posts with external content. That’s because they want people to stay on their platform.
The second method might be easier to convert followers into readers. It works best on platforms like X and Instagram. First, link the listicle article in the website link area of your bio (or even on a Link Tree type service). Then, add a short form post to the platform, basically giving a very short and sweet social media version of the listicle. The last post or end of the post should be pointing people to click on the bio website to access the full article. Don’t add any external links to this post.
However, if you promote on social media (no spamming!), you should definitely be doing so because it can get you many new readers and shares.
11 – How to SEO Your Listicle?
This is one of my favorite things to show people because of my love for SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, just in case you don’t know. It’s all about using techniques to try to get your listicle on page one of Google and other search engines.
First things first, though, you have to learn and master keyword research. In order to effectively do SEO, you need to understand keywords and how to research them. It’s not hard to do. There are so many tools available to assist you. Your main goals are to know if people are actually searching for the term you wish to target and if there is a lot of competition. You want low competition (or lower than most) and a good search volume.
The next thing you want to do is insert your keyword into all the right places. This includes the title, H1, and your first H2 header. Put it in the ALT tag of your first image. Include it in the first sentence of your first paragraph, and then mention it a few more times every other paragraph or so. Make sure the URL slug of your blog post also includes your keyword. You can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to score your use of your keyword and make sure it’s in all the right places.
Other than the two methods mentioned above, make sure your blog is on a fast server, and that sums up search engine optimization.
12 – How to Have a Good Tone for Your Listicle?
When you write a listicle, it’s important to get personal about it. But you should do this with all posts and even all pages on your blog, too.
What I mean by getting personal is to write a listicle as if you’re speaking to a person on a one-to-one basis. This is where you’ll write as if you’re talking face-to-face. I do it with this and all the articles I write. I write to you instead of to a group of people who might include you. I do this by using words like “you” and “me”. While I am writing for a number of people within my niche, it’s more personal to write in a conversational tone, which is how I write a listicle every time.
It’s also important to be yourself and your original voice when you write a listicle, blog in general, and use social media to promote your content. You need to be real and original. You need to be yourself. Don’t follow the fake it until you make it advice. The problem with that is if you get caught being someone you’re not, no one may ever trust you again. Don’t lie. Be you and work on being a better you. Be realistic and actually relate to the people you are writing to.
Your tone and your voice are a big part of being successful as a blogger and writing effective listicles that will get read, commented on, and shared with others.
13 – How to Engage Readers with Your Listicle?
Engagement is a great way to keep readers on your blog. The longer they stay on your blog, the more likely they’ll find reasons to come back to it, and it also helps with search engine ranking if they come from a search engine.
There are many ways to engage with readers. Questions are a great way, and they’re easy to do. You can ask a question on each point in your listicle-related to the point. Readers might not answer them all, but they might find a question that motivates them to comment with an answer. Asking multiple questions within your listicle is always a good idea.
Another way to engage is to put in a CTA or Call-to-Action on your listicle. One of the most common CTAs is asking readers to leave a comment on your post. You typically ask it in the introduction and the outro as a reminder. Another form of CTA is asking that they share your post or even subscribe to your newsletter. CTAs are about getting the reader to act on something that has a positive impact on you and your blog.
A blog shouldn’t be just about getting read, and that’s it. You should always try to add to the experience by encouraging an engaging dialog with your readers in some form or another.
Examples of Great Listicles
Now that I’ve explained the best ways to write a listicle let’s take a look at a few great listicles out there. These are always good to look at for inspiration.
- 21 Best Online Marketing Tools (That We Use At Ahrefs) – Ahrefs is a pro when it comes to writing a listicle. They have a great title using an odd number and power words. The content is packed with value and uses illustrations at every point.
- Soups to Make Every Month of 2023 – This was a very creative way to write a listicle. It doesn’t include a number in the title, but it’s obvious that the number will be 12. I think it’s a great idea to look for these unique types of listicle articles.
- 80 Productivity Tips From Incredibly Busy Experts – There is a lot I like about this listicle. I like that it’s big, with 80 points added to it. I love that each point is a recommendation from an expert within the niche. And I love the length of each point.
- 21+ Best Customer Feedback Tools You Should Try In 2023 – What makes this listicle approach a great one to note on is the number of points you’ll see. So, we know that we will see at least 21 listed items, but the + symbol means there will be even more. That makes it a bit of a mystery and worth reading to find out more. It’s a great tactic to use.
- 60 Dog Facts That’ll Change The Way You Look At Your Pup – This is a great listicle because of the number of points. It contains a lot of facts for you to enjoy. But the format of each point is brilliant in the making. The point heading is the fact. Then, a photo illustrates the fact. Then, you have a bigger block of text to give more information. The fact is upfront and easy, but after the visual, you can learn more if you want to or keep reading for the next facts. Well done!
Comment below with some of your favorite listicles, and tell me why you like them so much. I’d love to see what you think.
Listicles are probably one of the most (top 3 at least) valuable and read blog post formats out there. You should write a listicle every chance you get. I know I try to at least include one of them each month on my hiking blog. They get the most traffic, and you see them on page one of search engine results more than any other type of blog post.
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About the Author
Shawn Gossman has created content, blogged, ran online communities, and shared a passion for digital marketing for over twenty years. Shawn believes the best way to help content creators, businesses, brands, and marketers is to give away more than you sell. The same advice is recommended for the readers that follow this blog. Shawn also offers a variety of services for extra help in the area of content creation, blogging, forums, and digital marketing. Learn more about Shawn Gossman by clicking here.
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