The way to write a listicle (with 6 examples)


One of the vital common codecs for written on-line content material is the standard listicle.

55% of bloggers say they’ve revealed a listicle within the final 12 months (solely how-to articles rank increased).

However this recognition exists exactly as a result of folks like to learn lists.

We love clicking on listing headlines as a result of they’re extremely particular and set an expectation for what’s contained in the article. We all know what we’re moving into, and it’s satisfying to behold.

We love studying lists as a result of our brains are wired for this actual sort of data sorting.

And, by the point you’re executed studying this text, you’ll love writing listicles, too.

What’s a listicle?

A listicle is a kind of content material that smashes collectively two issues: an article and a listing. 

Merely put, in a listicle, you current data formatted as an in depth listing. Normally, accompanying every listing merchandise will likely be a number of paragraphs of description to assist the reader perceive it, to offer them background or historical past on it, or to elucidate why it issues.

Listicles are formatted in a really particular manner, with every listing merchandise denoted with a numbered subheading. 

Right here’s a great instance from a Reader’s Digest listicle of the 100 Greatest Books of All Time. Every guide’s title is a numbered level on the listing formatted as a heading. Beneath every listing merchandise is a abstract of the guide, why it made the listing, and why it’s best to learn it.

Why it’s best to write listicles

Listicles are one of the common content material varieties for a ton of causes:

  • They break down a subject into bite-sized, easily-digestible items.
  • The listing format is simple to scan, which helps readers discover the data that’s most necessary to them.
  • When written about an academic matter, the listicle helps make clear complicated concepts and processes.
  • The listing format makes sophisticated matters and lengthy explanations extra approachable and fewer intimidating.

Writing listicles and publishing them as a part of your content material technique can be helpful for assembly model content and SEO targets. 

Listicles are inclined to get nice engagement – when folks see a typical listicle headline, they’re extra prone to click on it.

In a BuzzSumo study of the most-shared headlines, articles that bought the very best engagement began with a quantity, e.g., “7 distinctive methods to embellish for the vacations” or “10 of the most effective books of all time.”

buzzsumo headline study - top phrases

Half of the top 10 SEO expert columns on Search Engine Land in 2022 have been listicles. (And that article itself is one instance of a listicle.)

Don’t overlook key phrase rankings. In case your listicles are correctly researched and optimized for the suitable matters/key phrases, they’ll rank in engines like google, seize clicks, and drive site visitors and results in your web site.

So, let’s reply the query: How do you write a great listicle that accomplishes all these items?

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The way to write listicles that seize your viewers

Writing listicles will be extraordinarily simple. Nevertheless, you possibly can take your listicles to the next level by incorporating these steps.

1. Select a fantastic listicle matter

First, be sure you select a subject that lends itself to a listing – not each matter will work for writing a listicle. 

The most effective listicle matters are simple and simply sorted into a listing. When you do your sorting and are left with dangling data that wouldn’t make sense as a part of your listing, it’s essential to rethink the subject or hone it.

For instance, this text you’re studying may have been a listicle, however in the end all the data I needed to share wouldn’t match neatly contained in the listing format (such because the definition of a listicle and why it’s best to write one). These “danglers” damage the listing – and defeat the neatness, simplicity, and satisfaction inherent within the format.

Lengthy story quick: When you can’t match all the data in your article neatly inside a listing, you shouldn’t write it as a listicle. 

2. Write a transparent and particular listicle headline

Fortunately, your listicle headline ought to write itself – nevertheless it shouldn’t be clickbaity.

Click on-bait headlines promise greater than they ship. Meaning your headline initially excites your reader indirectly, however after they click on and begin studying, they instantly really feel let down.

Keep away from this by getting clear and particular about what your article will embrace. Describe that in your headline, together with the precise variety of steps/factors your listing accommodates.

For instance, if I used to be writing a listicle about the most effective eco-friendly clothes firms, I might phrase it like this:

“10 wonderful eco-friendly clothes manufacturers for the earth-conscious shopper”

Or, if I used to be writing a listicle of suggestions to save cash on heating/cooling:

“5 easy suggestions to save cash on heating and cooling your property”

These headlines are descriptive, however they don’t over-promise. They’re additionally front-loaded with the variety of factors within the listing. 

This listicle headline from a plumber is one other nice instance. It’s easy however efficient:

plumbing listicle

3. Define and quantity the steps or factors

Subsequent, lay out all of the steps, factors, or objects in your listicle. Write them out as a easy listing and quantity them accordingly.

That is your define – a really useful step that means that you can see your total article at a look and guarantee it is sensible from a zoomed-out perspective.

At this level, be certain that your listing objects are ordered as logically as doable. 

  • In case your listing objects are steps in a course of, manage them within the order wanted to finish the duty.
  • If the order of your listing objects doesn’t rely on logic, listing probably the most helpful objects or factors first – those your readers will care about probably the most.

For instance, this listicle by Baking Kneads presents 13 suggestions for baking a cake. The information observe a logical order, beginning with prepping substances and ending with the suitable frosting approach.

baking listicle example

4. Don’t chain your self to a sure variety of factors

As you’re outlining your listicle, don’t say, “I have to write 13 factors or else…” 

That’s a recipe for an unsatisfying listing. What when you have far more helpful data than that? What for those who may simply write a listing of 25 factors, every considered one of them helpful?

However, what for those who battle to give you extra listing objects after quantity 7? The rest of your factors most likely gained’t be that helpful or attention-grabbing – and that’s how you find yourself with ineffective fluff.

As a substitute, let your matter information you on how a lot data it’s essential to fulfill readers – and the way lengthy your listing ought to be. 

  • Do matter analysis on Google to see what rivals have included of their lists.
  • Take into consideration your model experience and add what you already know will likely be helpful primarily based in your data and expertise.
  • Think about what your viewers must know, and purpose to offer that.
  • By no means add extra listing objects simply to hit a selected quantity or pad out your listing.

Nice instance: Loads of folks will inform you that together with a sure variety of objects in your listicle is extra participating and can earn extra clicks and reads. Some say to solely use odd numbers, others keep on with multiples of 5, and some solely construct lists with 1-9 objects.

This Backlinko listicle fully throws all these “finest practices” out the window by together with 200(!) objects.

long listicle example

5. Make every level or step clear and helpful

To write down a really helpful listing article, make every level or listing merchandise as clear and helpful as doable. This implies being particular, actionable, and descriptive.

For instance, if I used to be writing a listicle of fall gardening suggestions, it will be simple to be imprecise, like: 

  1. Plant bulbs
  2. Prune

“However wait!” my green-thumb readers would suppose. “Plant what bulbs? Prune what?”

These steps solely hit one goal: They’re actionable. However, to be clear and helpful, they have to be particular and descriptive, too. Right here’s how I might edit them:

  1. Plant spring bulbs like garlic, tulips, and daffodils
  2. Prune hardy perennials and woody herbs

Sure, you can describe these actions within the paragraph textual content. However, you’ll make your overarching listing extra helpful (and optimized) for those who get clearer on the listing stage. For the scanning reader, particularly, that is tremendous helpful. It additionally helps search engine crawlers perceive what your content material is about.

Right here’s a great instance of that from a gardening suggestions listicle by Eartheasy:

gardening listicle - clear list items

6. Use the suitable formatting for a listicle

At all times use the identical format for each listicle you write. 

Positive, you can skip the formatting and simply do no matter feels proper. However do not forget that listicles are common exactly due to their numbered listing format. It’s the rationale they’re so participating and attention-grabbing. So why mess with a confirmed commonplace?

Listed here are the final guidelines to observe:

  • Format every listing merchandise as a numbered heading.
  • Use the identical heading stage for every level within the listing (all H2s, all H3s, and so forth.).
  • Describe every listing merchandise. Inform the reader why it’s on the listing, why they need to care, and, if relevant, how one can do it.
  • Order your factors logically – use chronological order for those who’re itemizing steps in a course of; add probably the most helpful factors on the prime if there’s no clear ordering scheme.
  • If related, add pictures for instance every level. (For instance, every guide within the “finest 100 books” listing above features a picture of the quilt.)

Lastly, in case your listing is super-long, think about grouping it by classes.

For instance, a listicle of Christmas stocking stuffer concepts is grouped by sort of present:

listicle groupings

Prepared to write down your listicle?

Don’t get overwhelmed when writing your listicle. Although there are many tiny particulars that may assist your content material rank better and earn extra reads, you most likely have an intuition about creating a great listing already.

Give it some thought: What number of listicles have you ever consumed within the final week alone? The final month? When you’re like most on-line readers, it’s most likely much more than you realized.

Take all of the stuff you love about listicles and pour them into your content material. Add in these steps and suggestions, and blend properly. Your efficient listicle will likely be prepared in your content material calendar very quickly.

Opinions expressed on this article are these of the visitor creator and never essentially Search Engine Land. Employees authors are listed here.

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In regards to the creator

Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is the founding father of Content material Hacker, 7x creator, and a number one strategist round creating distinctive content material and model presence that lasts on-line. At 19 years previous, she used her final $75 to construct a 7-figure writing company which she offered ten years later. Within the 2020s, she’s dedicated to instructing founders and entrepreneurs the technique, abilities, and techniques they should construct a enterprise by means of inbound content material, to allow them to create extra lasting influence on the earth.

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