How To
9 min read

How Listicles Draw More Readers And How To Write One

Nicole Littlejohn
November 20, 2022

What you'll learn

What you'll need

Writers prepare to create a listicle for their blog and research SEO keywords. 

Your website's ranking and authority affect your sales and visibility in this day and age. Better quality content means more readers, which leads to more sales. 

You can use listicles to educate and entertain your readers as a business or blog. They are an incredible short-form piece of content that attracts readers due to their entertaining and digestible nature, which will help to build your brand and website, along with your traffic.

Listicles can also be used to compare options and set your products or services apart from the competition. They can also be informational and used as a resource in your industry or niche.

According to Ahrefs, roughly 90% of pages on Google receive no organic traffic. This can hurt businesses spending a lot of money for content online but not getting the return on their investment through traffic, leads, and ultimately revenue.

You need to know the steps required to create a high-quality listicle, the benefits of using listicles, and see some well-performing listicle examples to learn how to develop great listicles to grow your traffic.

What is a Listicle? 

A listicle is a blend of "list" and "article." A listicle is not an intense long-form article, but it is not as simple as a bullet point list with a title. 

It is somewhere in between that combines necessary information and practical value in a listed format. It includes short paragraphs, bulleted and numbered lists, relevant media, and applicable information while leaving out fluffy, filler content. 

Companies like BuzzFeed and Zapier use listicles to educate, entertain and engage with their readers. BuzzFeed has all of its lists organized so you can look through them for inspiration.

Buzzfeed Lists category displaying their listicles.

If appropriately used, listicles can effectively attract more visitors, engage with your readers, keep them on your site, get links to your site, and increase revenue from advertisements or convert visitors into leads and customers.

Why Readers Love Listicles

A study done by Semrush on top-performing articles showed that headlines are one of the most important factors for when people choose what they want to read.

They also found that listicles got 80% more traffic than other content types. The second leading content type was how-to articles, establishing that you need both of these in your content strategy.

It’s proven that headlines in listicle format help attract readers to your content. But your listicle needs to deliver what your headline is promising them. It all starts with choosing the listicle type and what topic you’ll cover.

So how do you use listicles the right way?

Listicle Types and Topic Ideas 

Listicles can cover any topic you want. From recipes and how-to listicles to informative B2B focused listicles. Here are some ideas of listicle types and topics you can use:

  • Best of lists
  • Inspirational
  • Expert roundups
  • Top tips and tricks
  • Checklists
  • How I learned
  • Recipes
  • How to guides
  • Reasons why or opinions
  • Lifehacks
  • Fun facts
  • Ways to do
  • How to avoid
  • Curated lists
  • Takeaways
  • Trends

If you have a subject that can be broken up into multiple steps or used in a numbered list, you can create a great listicle. 

Confirm a Listicle is the Right Choice for Your Content

Whenever you create written content, you need to ensure proper formatting. A listicle is not the best format for every content piece, so you need to make sure your topic is suitable for a listicle.

Do some keyword research to figure out what people are searching for the topic you want to write about. Look at your competitors and see if they are writing listicles and what they are covering. Can your content be organized in steps or a numbered list that makes sense? If so, then you have yourself a listicle to write.

Listicle Guidelines to Follow

Your listicle should pique the reader's attention or answer their questions in a clear and concise way. Do not waste time with fluff and unrelated information.

Length and Clarity

  • Keep your lists short, preferably between 500-1000 words. 
  • Make it easy to digest with short paragraphs.
  • Use subheadings for readers that like to skim to find what they want.
  • Number your list points for easier reading and organization.
  • Provide clear instruction that flows properly.
  • Stay consistent in your tone and writing style throughout.

Grab Their Attention and Provide Value

  • Make a catchy title that gets the reader interested.
  • Use enticing visuals that are relevant to the content.
  • Be entertaining, educational, or both, depending on your audience.
  • Each list item should contribute valuable information to the topic or be removed.
  • Insert helpful links for further details.
  • Live up to the title and deliver the promised content and value.

Include Resourceful Visuals

Media such as screenshots and images can also be used to further a point or demonstrate what the item teaches. 

Readers want to see images because it breaks up the content, makes it more scannable, grabs their attention, and is visually enticing for them to see. Visuals help tell the story by painting a picture that words can't show. 

Using screenshots in a resourceful post can help the reader understand even more about your topic.

Funny gifs and memes will help entertain your reader if that's the purpose of your listicle. This also helps to make it more shareable on social media. 

Space out your images and use them when necessary throughout the listicle to give it a suitable format and readability.

Listicles For SEO 

Computer displaying a website's performance and traffic.

Listicles can be a great tool to improve your website's traffic through search engine optimization (SEO). Your content has a higher chance of ranking in search engines when you provide clear answers to what people are searching for. Make sure to include your main keywords in your title, subheadings, URL, as well as other relevant and long-tail keywords throughout your content naturally. 

The keywords you cover, formatting your article properly, adding relevant internal links, optimizing your content, and a lot of other on-page factors will affect your website's ranking and visibility on search engines. 

Look at your competition for the keyword terms you want to go after and make a content piece better than what they provide by providing what people are searching for without the fluff.

After making sure your topic fits as a listicle, doing some keyword research, and looking at your competitors, you’re ready to write your listicle.

How to Write a Listicle

Writing an effective listicle requires a clear understanding of the subject, your goal in creating the content, and a well-organized outline. 

Creating a listicle involves the following steps:

  1. Select your topic of choice 
  2. Research your competition
  3. Choose keywords to include
  4. Create an outline and start writing
  5. Start brainstorming compelling titles

1. Select Your Topic

The topic you choose will affect your tone, angle, keywords, media, and writing style. You want to make sure it makes sense in a listicle format.

As a business owner, you want to draw in more readers to get leads, so create a helpful list on a topic that is a pain point for your potential customers to help them solve a problem. 

Blogs and publications need the traffic to monetize their site, so they want to entertain and educate their readers and stay on their site. Come up with something intriguing, funny, or resourceful that will catch their attention to click on.

If you need help coming up with an idea, take a look at some ideas listed below or use our free Topic Generator.

Marketing Agencies

  • How To Draw Clients Into a Sales Funnel 
  • 9 Best Content Marketing Tools Your Business Needs
  • 7 Reasons Why Your Customers Are Choosing Your Competition

B2B Companies

  • 10 Best Project Management Tools to Increase Team Productivity
  • How To Create an Efficient Onboarding Process
  • 7 Sales Tips from Experts to Close More Deals

Freelance Writers 

  • 7 Reasons Why Working From Home is a Blessing and a Curse
  • Top 10 Marketplaces for Freelance Writers
  • How to Start a Career as a Freelance Writer

Web Developers

  • 8 Signs Your Client is Asking for Too Much
  • How to Build a Simple Landing Page With These Steps
  • 7 Most Common Mistakes Rookie Web Developers Make


  • 9 Places Couples Need to Visit Before You Have Kids
  • 7 Useful Products Your Family Needs You Probably Never Heard Of
  • Top 10 Life Hacks When Working Remote to Get Stuff Done

2. Research Your Competition

If you are writing a listicle to convert more clients or improve your website's traffic and rankings, you must research your competition. 

Visit your competitor’s sites and see if they have any information or resources on the topic you are writing about. Do they already have an article or listicle? If so, what did they miss? What could you talk about to make your listicle better?

You also want to be competing to get the number one spot in search engines. Search the topic and see what articles pop up in the top five or so results. What do they include? How are they formatted? What questions do they answer, or did they miss something? 

Use the answers to those questions when writing your listicle. 

3. Choose your keywords

Screenshot of a keyword tool that helps SEO writers select the correct high ranking keywords. 

The next step is to research and select relevant keywords based on your chosen topic. This step is essential for any writer who wants to attract more readers and convert more clients. 

You want to make sure that the keywords you are writing about have some search volume so that people will find your listicle organically. But you don’t want it to be such a high search volume that the competition is too difficult to surpass in rankings.

There are quite a few paid and free tools to help you find the right keywords. Google Keyword Planner is a great free resource that shows average monthly search volume, competitiveness, and much more.

4. Create an outline with the main points and start writing

Creating an entire listicle from scratch can seem daunting, but you can make an outline from your competitor analysis and use some of the keywords you researched to get you started. 

Jot down any ideas you have, the most frequently asked questions, any terms that need to be explained, and include any interesting and relevant facts. 

Do another Google search using your chosen topic. Take note of the questions people also ask and the related searches at the bottom of the results.

Screenshot of Google search results for listicles. 

Any of those questions could be tweaked and included in your listicle. Including the answer to those questions will cover your topic thoroughly so that readers will find what they are looking for in your content.

Then start answering those questions and subheadings in your outline with accurate and valuable information. Do some research for anything you need to find authoritative resources to link to if necessary. Make sure to thoroughly cover the topic short and sweet so readers can easily find the solution to their search.

Once you have your outline and draft in a good place, you'll likely do a few rounds of edits to tweak the content to your liking. Then when you are satisfied with the content, it's time for one of the most critical parts - the headline!

5. How To Create A Killer Title

Creating a relevant and catchy title is crucial, especially when competing for readers' attention. 

So how can you come up with a catchy title?

Focus on a few things:

  • Be specific and concise 
  • Cover the value you'll provide
  • Include numbers 
  • Make it compelling

Indicate what is in the article and the reader's benefit or solution from reading the content.  People are also attracted to numbers, especially odd numbers.

For example, a listicle on handling workplace gossip could have a title like: "How To Handle Gossip at Work!"

But that title does explain the setting and provide any specifics. That would be a bad example. 

However, take a look at this: “5 Tips to Successfully Avoid Getting Involved in Workplace Gossip.”

This title gives you a better idea of what the list will be about and what you’ll get out of it. Here are a couple more titles for inspiration:

Examples of Good Titles

  • 7 Ways to Increase Your Revenue Within the Next 12 Months
  • 5 Resources Every Freelance Writer Should Use
  • Avoid These 3 Mistakes When Writing A Proposal On Upwork
  • 12 Healthy Habits to Include in Your Day to Have More Energy
  • How to Build A Website From Scratch On WordPress

Popular Listicle Examples

Let's take a look at some great listicles for inspiration. Notice any similarities between these examples?

  1. 6 Secrets to Achieving Work-Life Balance, According to HubSpot Marketing Managers by HubSpot
  2. 23 Amazing Moments From The "Harry Potter Movies" That Aren't In The Books by Buzzfeed
  3. 5 Steps to Booking a Cheap Flight Online by Nomadic Matt
  4. 50 Ways to Promote Your Latest Blog Post After Publishing It by James Parsons
  5. Best Customer Feedback Tools For 2022 Compared by Qualaroo
  6. 33 Things Every Conference Attendee Knows To Be True by Buzzfeed
  7. 10 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Cats by Buzzfeed
  8. 32 Of Your Childhood Toys That Are Worth An Absolute Fortune Now by Buzzfeed
  9. How To Sleep Better In 94 Seconds by Buzzfeed
  10. Best Holiday Commercials Of 2021  by Entertainment 
  11. The Year on TikTok: Top 100 by TikTok
  12. The Trends That Shaped Streaming in 2020 — Spotify by Spotify
  13. The 10 Best Podcasts of 2021 by Time Magazine
  14. 10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication by Mayo Clinic
  15. The 8 Biggest Business Trends In 2022 by Forbes
  16. Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022 by Gartner
  17. The Next Big Things: Our Top 10 Food Trends for 2022 by Whole Foods

The listicles above provide relevant information that readers find interesting and valuable. The content is well-organized, with headings that include keywords and numbers.

Key Takeaway

Listicles are fun, easy, and influential pieces of content that can attract more readers and backlinks to improve your website's ranking. With a bit of effort and research, you can put together great listicles in your content strategy that build your site's authority.. 

They are easy to read and digest, and people love to share entertaining or resourceful listicles on social media. Readers want to find the answers to their questions as fast as possible. Listicles allow you to explain a process in a comprehensive and straightforward format so everyone can find what they are looking for and get back to their lives.

Take the steps detailed in this article and get started on your way to writing listicles that draw in more readers and traffic to your website.

Need to write other types of blog posts? Check out our articles on:

How to write a blog post
Write an affiliate marketing blog post
How to write a food blog
How to write a blog post about an event
How to turn an interview into a blog post
How to set up a travel blog post
How to write a comparison blog post
How to write a B2B case study

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