In your search for what type of content drives the most clicks to your website, you’ve likely come across the term “Listicle”.
It’s true that this type of content is popular with readers, and is known to be popular to rank in search engine results.
But what exactly is a listicle, and what makes them so popular among readers?
If you want to create a listicle of your own, you need to have an outline in place.
Creating a listicle outline can be time-consuming and difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.
In this article, we’ll cover what makes this type of content so popular, and then show you how to generate an outline for your list post in under 30 seconds.
First, let’s dive into what a listicle is.
What is a Listicle?
A listicle (short for “list article”) is a type of article that consists of a list of items, facts, or ideas. They are usually written in an odd number of points.
It is typically written in an informal style, and often includes images and videos to help illustrate the points being made.
Later we’ll be going over a tool that will help us find out what points may be good to write about based on our topic.
Why are Listicles So Popular?
Listicles are a popular type of article because they let people know when they will be finished reading.
When you are reading about 23 Fun Tricks to Do With Your Dog, you know that there are 23. It won’t go beyond that, and you can keep in mind as you’re reading how much further you have to go to finish.
On the other hand, when you are are reading The Ultimate Guide to Blogging, you get a lot of good information, but you don’t know when the content will end. You can’t estimate your time commitment to finishing the article.
List formats are also easier to scan. Some points may be interesting to you. Others may not. By skimming the headlines of the numbered list, you can see what relates to you, what doesn’t, and read more about the points that are interesting.
BuzzSumo did a study on the most popular types of blog posts that people like to click on, and listicles came out on top, with 1-10 being the most popular numbers to use.
If you’re convinced now that you want to write a listicle, where do you begin?
We begin with the outline.
How Do You Write an Outline for a Listicle
The first thing you need to do when writing an outline for a listicle has nothing to do with the outline at all.
First on the list is you need to figure out search intent for your keyword. That means typing your keyword into Google and seeing what type of articles pop up. If other listicles are popping up in the top 10 results, you know that Google is ranking that type of content one page one.
If they aren’t there, you may need to pivot to a different type of article to be able to rank.
Once you decide that a list format is a good choice for your article, you can start the outline.
Outlines can be fairly simple, or a little more complex.
In general it will look something like this:
- Definition and initial question
- Point #1
- Point #2
- Point #3
- Etc. until points are complete
- Conclusion and call to action
Sometimes there can be a little bit more content before you get into the main points of the article. It all depends how much clarification you need before you get to the numbered portion.
You don’t want to include information for fluff though. Make sure anything you include before the main numbered points is relevant and necessary to understanding the points. High-Quality content is important above all else.
When creating your main points, make sure you have the end goal of your article in mind. What do you want the reader to accomplish by reading your post?
Make sure that everything you include in the numbered points serves this end.
And now that we know what an outline looks like and what to include, let’s look at how we can make one, FAST!
How to Generate a Listicle Outline in Less than 30 Seconds
In order to generate great content that our audience is looking for, we either need to spend a lot of time doing research, or dip into our toolbox of AI content generation tools and speed up the process.
In this example, we will be using the Frase.io.
Under the section for AI Tools, we want to do a search for “Listicle”. This will pull up a few tools, but we are looking for “Listicle Generator”.
As you can see, this will give us headings for our numbered list, but will also generate some basic paragraphs for us as well.
Once we click into the tool, we can select our language, and enter the title of our blog post we want to outline. We also need choose how creative we want the AI to be. I usually pick 3 out of 5 to give the algorithm a little room to play.
As we click generate, we will wait a few seconds and we will get a result like below. This took 15 seconds for the AI to think about and show the results.
We can take or leave the paragraphs as we want. I definitely wouldn’t use them as-is, because Google doesn’t like straight AI generated content. You may get flagged for spam.
The important thing here is that we have 5 unique ways to serve ice cream, and a written paragraph to give us an idea about what each of those mean. Did you know what a “fun cone” was? I sure didn’t.
If we want to take this article to the max, we would try each of these types of ways to serve ice cream, take photos, and rate our experience with each.
The bottom line is that we now have our quick outline (and can generate more answers if we want to include more points, or don’t like some of the ones we see), and can continue quickly to the writing of the article.
Steps on How to Write a Listicle
Now that we know how to make an outline, it’s important to take a step back and see where this fits in the overall process of creating our listicle.
Here are the 5 basic steps it takes to write such an article:
- Brainstorm Ideas: Before you start writing anything, it’s important to brainstorm ideas. Think about what topics would be interesting to your audience and which ones they would find useful.
- Research Your Topic: Once you have a list of ideas, prioritize them and start researching the most important one. Look up facts and statistics related that relate to your topic, and make sure you have all the information you need to write an informative listicle. Think about where you want people to be at the beginning of the article, and what you want them to come away with at the end. Research anything that will help you get them to that end.
- Create an Outline: Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to create an outline for your listicle. Use the previous sections of this article to guide you in creating your outline quickly, and with headings people will actually be interested in.
- Write Your Listicle: You can use a bit of the generated content to flesh out your article, but you mostly want to write this yourself. AI is great for generating ideas and getting unstuck when you have writer’s block, but it’s still best to create the blog post with your own voice. Write out a draft of your listicle.
- Proofread and Edit: Once you’ve finished writing your list post, it’s important to proofread and edit it before publishing. Revisit your goal of where you want people to be by the end of the article, and see if your content has helped them reach that end. Add any SEO tweaks and optimizations you need, any affiliate links or links to your product pages, and also make sure to link any sources you are referring to. If you used AI to generate any of the content, make sure it sounds good, and that you are rewriting parts of it so it uses your voice and perspective.
The outline is the center point of this entire process. A great outline will help you plot out your audience journey as they read through the blog post to make sure your article flow makes sense and is helping people reach their desired goal.
The outline is the bulk of the work, and we now have a way to generate one extremely quickly.
With what you’ve read so far, you now have the basic knowledge you need to create thorough listicles for your audience. Be sure to check out Frase.io and speed up your process.
For the rest of this article we will be going over tips on enhancing your listicle and really making it shine above the rest.
But How Do You Write An Introduction for a List Post?
While people like to skim through listicles, it’s still important to have a great introduction to pull people in. It’s not just about the numbers.
The introduction is meant to hook people into the subject and give them a reason to want to scroll down to your numbered points to begin with.
It should be very conversational, let people know why they should care to scroll on, and make a promise to them about what they will come away with once they read through to the end.
Think of the introduction as a pre-frame for people’s minds before taking in the numbered points. What do they need to know before the points will be helpful? Include this in the intro section before you start listing off numbers.
Does a Listicle Need a Conclusion?
While most people click through to your article to read your numbered points and skim the information, they will still be looking for a wrap-up and directions afterwards.
Even if your listicle is fun and zany, you want to have a conclusion in place with some type of CTA.
You wrote your content for a reason. Whether you want people to sign up for your affiliate offer, get a consultation for your service, or just to sign up for your email list to “get more fun posts like this one delivered to your inbox”, you want to have some type of call-to-action in place.
Not only is it a waste of a click and readthrough if you don’t, but you are doing the reader a disservice.
If they are there for a fun read, you are depriving them of more fun reads in the future if you don’t ask them to sign up for your email list.
If they are looking for a software to solve their problem and you don’t include your affiliate link and bonuses, they are going to be left searching elsewhere to find a solution.
If they are looking for a service to help them level up, again, you are not helping their cause by simply listing out your points and ending the article.
Include a good, concise conclusion to your listicle to complete the piece. You will only look bad if you don’t.
What Not to Do When Writing a Listicle
There are a few rules you should follow for what not to do when writing your listicle. There are probably more, but here are the biggest:
- Don’t write a listicle that is too long or too short for the topic you are covering. Don’t add points as fluff just to hit a certain number of list items.
- Don’t use overly complicated language that will confuse readers. People want light a breezy and easy to skim.
- Don’t forget to proofread and edit your list post before publishing it online. Grammar mistakes will be caught, even by skimmers.
- Don’t rely solely on AI generated content for your listicle. Make sure you are using your own voice and perspective as well. This goes for this type of content as it does any other blog post. Don’t just crank out AI-generated content. Add a human touch to everything.
- Don’t create a list post without a clear CTA. These types of blog posts are great for getting clicks, but you still need to think about your business and the end goal of those clicks. Give people somewhere to go when they are done reading.
Using Listicles in Your Content Marketing
We’ve already discussed how listicles help drive more clicks to your website.
It’s also important to mention that they help break up the monotony of other blog posts.
Even if you are a strict professional such as a lawyer, you need to have some variation in your content titles and styles to keep readers interested.
If all of your articles begin with “How to _________” and you write large chunks of texts on how to complete a process, readers will get fatigue from having to read through so much.
If every one of your blog posts is “__________ review” and you only write reviews on single products, your readers aren’t going to see any value after they find the first product that solves their problem.
You have to dig deep, see what Google is ranking high based on search intent, and create THAT type of content in order to be considered for ranking.
Listicles help give readers a lot of information in a quick, skimmable, format. Make sure to include them in your content plan.
Listicle Examples From Around the Web
Want to see some listicle formats in action?
Here are 5 examples that get great traffic, use the format well, provide links out to sources, and include media in great ways to keep the reader engaged through all the list items:
- The 11 Best iPad Games to Play in 2023
- 6 Foods That May Increase Your Risk of Cancer
- The 5 best online whiteboards in 2022
- The 11 Best Experimental Albums of 2022
- How to Make Money Online: 28 Real Ways to Earn Money Online
Got another good one to share? Even one of your own? We’d love to see it in the comments down below.
Create Your Listicles the Fast and Easy Way
Listicles should definitely find their way into your content marketing strategy if you are looking for a super-charged post type that offers more clicks and greater reader satisfaction (read: just use them!).
They help to drive more clicks to your content, and are a nice, concise way to get your point across in a set number of points.
While they can take some time to create, we’ve learned an awesome way to save a load of time in generating a good outline.
That way is by using the AI tools within Frase.io.
For the price of Frase, you saves hours of work per article, and you can also learn exactly what you need to include in your listicle, or other article type, in order to be able to rank for your keyword.