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A Detailed Guide to Writing Listicle Articles

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Writing Listicle Articles


Listicle articles are popular among bloggers.

They don’t require writing tons of information on a particular topic. Instead, this type of article embraces a wide range of different service or product items in one place.

The goal of listicles is to get people familiar with various products.

So, how to write a listicle piece of content that would look stunning?

Let’s start!

The Basics of Listicle Articles

Listicles represent the posts that have a structure in the form of a list. As a rule of thumb, these posts consist of multiple items with additional information. The purpose of listicle articles is to provide readers with key information regarding specific services, products, or tools.

People like listicles due to a few obvious reasons:

  • It is easy to read listicle posts
  • Listicles have the advantage of a limited attention span
  • They are easy to digest
  • These articles bring order to chaos and many more

You should mix your content strategy with listicle articles for sure. The game is worth the candle.

Now, let’s run through the entire process of how to write listicles.

A Step-by-Step Process on Writing Listicles

It seems easy to write listicle articles at first glance. Everything you will have to do is to create a new Google Doc and fill it in with what you want to list. That’s all.

But when we’re talking about a listicle article that would drive traffic – it is a different story.

Here are nine steps you need to follow:

Brainstorm a topic idea

The first thing that you should do is to come up with a topic idea. Keep in mind that it makes sense to cover the topic that people are searching for in Google.

You know that search queries can represent the topics. Also, these queries equal keywords you need to explore. Therefore, by conducting keyword research, you will be able to find potential topics to cover.

You can use SEO tools for this purpose. For example, Keyword Explorer from Ahrefs works the best.

Let’s say you want to write a listicle article that would cover the best design tools. Use the term “design tools” as a keyword to start generating more topic ideas.

Review a report called “Phrase match”, which suggests other keyword ideas. You can consider some of them as the topic for your upcoming article.

ahrefs

There are two metrics you should draw your attention to – Keyword Difficulty and Search Volume. The first metric represents the information on how hard it is to rank for this keyword. The second metric stands for how many searches the keyword has per month.

The next step is to understand if this topic meets the requirements of the listicle article.

Analyze the topic

Obviously, not every topic is suitable for this format of posts.

For example, you can’t cover the topic “how to make an infographic” in the listicle article. This particular topic belongs to a “how-to” guide with a step-by-step process explained.

How to understand if your topic fits this format?

Go to Google and review top results per your search request.

serps

As you can see, the majority of the posts are listicles.

Think about the length of the post

Post length depends on how many items you’re going to introduce. There is no one-size-fits-all length you should consider. Instead, take into consideration how many items top-ranking listicles have.

long

The example above demonstrates that the first position belongs to the listicle article with 101 SEO tips.

Does it mean that you will have to suggest 101 tips to get the top-ranking position?

Nope.

Remember that quantity doesn’t mean quality. The rest top results cover from 10 to 24 SEO tips.

Decide on format

Listicle articles can be of two formats. Let’s review them:

Basic format

This format of listicles is based on writing short descriptions in a few sentences for each item. It makes sense to choose this format when you have many items to list in the post.

Detailed format

The detailed format is all about writing a comprehensive description of the items. It is opposite to a basic format. You can choose this format when you’re covering a complicated topic or have not so many items to highlight in the article.

Choose an angle

The angle of your listicle articles can vary. Again, review top results in Google to have a better idea of what angle you should focus on.

Here are the main angles for listicle articles you can consider:

  • “Best” article (“15 Best Email Marketing Tools for Your Business”)
  • “For beginners” article (“12 SEO Tips for Beginners”)
  • “Personal experience” article (“10 Blogging Techniques We Use at Visme”)
  • “Expert opinion” article (“50 Pieces of Advice on Digital Marketing From Experts”)

Whatever angle you choose – avoid clickbait intent. In other words, if you are not sure that your listicle article holds the angle, you should change it.

Work on bullet points

Every listicle article includes bullet points. It is an integral part of this type of post. Hence, if you just list the items taken from the third-party posts – you will neither impress your audience nor Google.

Moreover, your post won’t acquire backlinks and drive no traffic.

That’s why you should work on bullet points right before you start exploring top-ranking pieces of content on the same topic. All you will have to do is to note down potential ideas that come to your mind.

Don’t limit yourself to ideas

Even if you know the topic perfectly, you can’t include all possible points in it. Don’t shy away from asking advice from your colleagues who have some expertise in that particular topic.

However, if you want to generate more ideas by yourself, check out an “Also talk about” report. You can find it by browsing the Keywords Explorer tool.

For example, you want to write a listicle post that would suggest “X Ideas for Halloween”. Let’s see what this report suggests:

more-ideas

There are 134 keywords that you can skim through to get extra ideas. It is worth taking on board the following:

  • scavenger hunt
  • pumpkin carving
  • Halloween candy
  • Halloween games
  • Halloween costumes

And now create interesting points that you can add to your listicle post. It could be something like “Buy creepy Halloween candies”, “Rent Halloween costumes”, “Brainstorm Halloween games”, and so on.

Add visual elements

On one hand, listicles are easy to read and get the information you need. On the other hand, these posts might seem boring. They are not engaging.

Likely, if you add visual elements to your listicle post, it will look more appealing. It is up to you what type of visual content to implement – images, videos, clips from a webinar, infographics, etc.

However, try to avoid using stock images or including images taken from third-party posts. Instead, create visual content by yourself.

For example, GIFs can enrich your listicle post with funny visuals that would catch people’s eye. To create a GIF manually, you can use a GIF maker.

Use various types of visuals for each item that you cover in the post.

Write a conclusion

If you analyze the structure of listicle articles, you will see that the majority of the posts don’t have the final words.

Do you want to know why?

People tend to skim through the list of items and don’t read the post from A to Z. As a result, a conclusion isn’t necessary there.

If you want to show yourself as a professional content writer, you must stick to including all components of the written article. It means you should always finish your listicle article with the conclusion.

Besides, it helps to summarize everything covered in the post.

Don’t write a long conclusion. Make it short with the main bullet points included.

A few GREAT examples of well-done listicles:

[Editor’s note] To leave you with some samples of well-done listincles, here are a few:

  • Best gardening books: See the nice “Our picks” section giving you a nice summary of what is listed!
  • Real estate agents: Notice how the actual list is formatted as a chart which allows for great readability and offers some potential SEO benefits like structured snippets
  • Best WordPress plugins: Notice a handy table of contents allowing you quickly jump down to any listed plugin

To Sum Up

Listicle articles are one of the most common types of content.

Yes, listicles are not engaging. People don’t read them completely. Nevertheless, this sort of content has its benefits as well. And to get most of the listicles, you should know how to create these articles properly.

This guide helped you find out the basics of listicle articles and how to write them easily.

If you think this post lacks some tips, feel free to share your suggestions in the comments.

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Sergey Aliokhin

Sergey Aliokhin is a Marketing Specialist at Visme. When not at work, he likes to spend his time with family, read books on science-fiction, practice playing the bass, and visit the gym.

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Meta Reinstates Trump to Facebook & Instagram

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Meta Reinstates Trump to Facebook & Instagram

Meta announced that the suspension of former president Trump from Facebook and Instagram will be lifted within a few weeks, with “guardrails” in place to discourage repeat offenses.

2021 Suspension of Trump

Meta indefinitely suspended the account of then-president Trump after he praised the people who engaged in anti-government violence that ended in several deaths.

The suspension was reviewed by the Meta Oversight Board who concluded that the indefinite suspension was inconsistent with rules in place for dealing with policy violations.

The Oversight Board wrote:

“…it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension. Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account.

The Board insists that Facebook review this matter to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.”

Facebook responded to the board that the suspension will last for two years beginning on January 7, 2021 after which the suspension would be reconsidered.

The indefinite suspension remained in place until the announcement that it will be lifted in the weeks following January 25, 2022, just over two years after the suspension.

Why the Suspension of Trump was Lifted

The review of the suspension was timed for two years after the imposition of the original suspension on January 7, 2021. This was by agreement with the Oversight Board.

Meta undertook a review of whether Trump continued to pose a risk to public safety and decided that enough had changed to lower the risk.

The explanation of the decision indicated that multiple factors were considered:

“To assess whether the serious risk to public safety that existed in January 2021 has sufficiently receded, we have evaluated the current environment according to our Crisis Policy Protocol, which included looking at the conduct of the US 2022 midterm elections, and expert assessments on the current security environment.

Our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded, and that we should therefore adhere to the two-year timeline we set out.

As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”

Facebook Public Figure Penalty Guardrails

Meta published updated policies, Restricting accounts by public figures during civil unrest, that describe the new protocols for dealing with public figures who violate Meta guidelines.

The updated rules apply to both Facebook and Instagram.

The new policies outline tiered penalties increasing in severity depending on the content violations.

Meta explained that the goal of the penalties were to deter violations of their policies.

The penalties last from one to thirty days to as long as two years for especially egregious violations.

Three factors will be considered to determine the severity of the penalty:

  1. “The severity of the violation and the public figure’s history on Facebook or Instagram, including current and past violations.
  2. The public figure’s potential influence over, and relationship to, the individuals engaged in violence.
  3. The severity of the violence and any related physical harm.”

 

Heightened Penalties

Public figures who return after a suspension will face heightened penalties, including disabling the account of any public figure that fails to respond to repeated warnings.

Meta’s rules targets QAnon content and outlines specific measures they will take that will limit the reach of penalized public figures.

That means anyone who is following the restricted account of a public figure will not see content posted to those accounts, plus the removal of reshare buttons.

“Our updated protocol also addresses content that does not violate our Community Standards but that contributes to the sort of risk that materialized on January 6, such as content that delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon.

We may limit the distribution of such posts, and for repeated instances, may temporarily restrict access to our advertising tools.

This step would mean that content would remain visible on Mr. Trump’s account but would not be distributed in people’s Feeds, even if they follow Mr. Trump.

We may also remove the reshare button from such posts, and may stop them being recommended or run as ads.”

Response to Reinstatement of Trump

Facebook’s announcement stated that they expect to be criticized but that the decision was guided by guidelines set down by the Oversight Board.

The response on social media was predictably passionate, with congressman Adam Schiff characterizing the reinstatement as Facebook having “caved.”

Others accused Facebook of having no rules or procedures even though Meta’s decision was based on rules and procedures.

Many of the top tweets commenting on the Trump reinstatement commented that Facebook’s decision was based on greed while others lamented the lack of consequences from Trump’s action, even though he was punished with a two year suspension.

Read Meta’s Announcement:

Ending Suspension of Trump’s Accounts With New Guardrails to Deter Repeat Offenses

 

 



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Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To Try

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Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To Try

Much of the web is ephemeral.

Web pages exist until they don’t. The content on them exists until it’s updated – and then it’s gone.

Unless you go digging in an archive.

Archiving the web is important for cultural and anthropological research. It’s also helpful for business reasons, like competitive analysis. It can even help document or monitor political processes.

Your particular reason for seeking archived content might determine which service works best.

The Wayback Machine is the most commonly known archive.

Screenshot, https://archive.org/web/, January 2023.

The Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization, and the Wayback Machine is the web version of its archive, containing an absolutely massive amount of data.

You can request that it save a webpage in its current state, as well as make use of tools, like an API.

As huge as the Wayback Machine archive is, it’s likely not 100% complete. If you’re having trouble finding something specific or wondering if there are alternatives with more features, these alternatives might help.

I won’t be going over paid SaaS subscriptions, as I don’t consider a paid service a true alternative to a free one provided by a nonprofit.

Let’s go!

1. The Memento Project

Memento is an exceptional alternative to the Wayback Machine because it aggregates several different sources, including the Wayback Machine itself.

On the website, you can access archives from several sources by using the Time Travel tool.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, http://timetravel.mementoweb.org/, January 2023.

This is the first distinction that makes Memento so cool, and it includes some of the other archives on this list, too. That means it’s a customizable experience and likely one of the most complete.

Memento’s other distinct feature is the Chrome extension that allows you to select the date on which you’d like to view your current page. This brings the tool to where you’re browsing instead of making you put a URL into a form.

You can also create a snapshot of a page and generate a link to it that won’t break. This is particularly useful for citation.

If you’re concerned a page might disappear, or the content might get updated, but you want to use the information, creating one of these links ensures that people will be able to see your original source.

2. Archive.today

Archive.today is another “snapshot” tool. It allows you to save a link to a page as it currently exists.

Following the link will send users to an unalterable version of the page.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, https://archive.ph/, January 2023.

It also features some relatively advanced search queries you can perform on domains and URLs to find snapshots that have been saved with the tool.

This tool also features a Chrome extension as well as an Android app.

Searches on Memento can include results from Archive.today.

3. WebCite

WebCite has powerful applications for authors, journalists, academics, and publishers.

It offers a variety of ways to build and present the archived pages and the URLs.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, rhttps://webcitation.org/, January 2023.

Unfortunately, at the time of publishing, it doesn’t appear to be taking new requests. But you can still access already archived pages. When and if it starts accepting requests again, it’s a very useful tool for that.

Its most powerful feature for authors and publishers is the ability to upload a manuscript directly to the website.

The tool will scan every link in an uploaded manuscript and automatically create archives of each of the pages linked to as they currently exist. This saves a lot of time if you’ve used a lot of website citations.

If you’ve created content that you want people to be able to create snapshots of, then you can add a specific WebCite link to your page that users can click on. This embeds archive functionality into your page, saving users time if they decide to use your work as a citation.

4. GitHub

GitHub is a development and collaboration platform that also prioritizes public projects and open-source code.

It documents and archives open-source code and programs, and is searchable by other archives such as the Wayback Machine.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, https://github.com/explore, January 2023.

But, if you’re looking for something related to code or software development, it might be easier to go straight to GitHub instead of using another archive service.

While it does have paid business plans, GitHub is free for the average user. It even offers 15GB of storage and some computing power in its cloud developer environment for free for your personal use.

5. Country-Specific Web Archives

Several countries run their own web archives.

These can be particularly helpful alternatives to the Wayback Machine if you’re looking for a website highly relevant to a specific location, or the culture of a country.

More focused archives might have more complete information if you’re having trouble finding it elsewhere, although again, I want to mention that the first alternative in this list, Memento, pulls from several different country-specific archives.

I should also note that many archives specific to a country, region, educational institution, or individual library are partnered with Archive-it, a service provider built by The Internet Archive (makers of the Wayback Machine).

They curate specific collections based on relevance, but all Archive-it partners leverage the same source: The Internet Archive.

These are a few of the country-specific web archives:

Conclusion

When you’re looking for alternatives to the Wayback Machine, you might not realize that a great many of them, in part or in whole, are powered by the same archive.

But there are other services out there you can use. Some have more helpful features, depending on what your goals are.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of alternative tools, but it’s most of the easily accessible tools for the average user.

Others require monthly payments, and some are free to academic and legal institutions, but not to individual users.

I chose to focus on the best of the tools that you could go and use right now with no fuss.

More resources:


Featured Image: Studio Romantic/Shutterstock



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Indirect Marketing: Definition, Types, & Examples

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Indirect Marketing: Definition, Types, & Examples

Indirect marketing is marketing where you’re not trying to explicitly sell a product or service.

Instead, it focuses on activities that generate brand awareness, build relationships with potential customers, and nurture them to eventually buy from you.

Indirect marketing relies on the assumption that potential customers will not purchase your product or service immediately, but over time. 

And if we look at our buying behavior, that’s probably true. For example, if we need a new pair of headphones, we’ll probably first do some online research, browse forums, ask our friends, and get familiar with available brands and models—all before buying.

In contrast, direct marketing is marketing where you’re explicitly trying to get potential customers to buy right now. Channels include cold email, direct mail, and ads.

Types of indirect marketing

Here are some types of indirect marketing:

1. Public relations (PR)

PR is the practice of positively influencing a brand’s perception by managing communications with the media and the general public.

Common tactics include being newsworthy, responding to media inquiries (e.g., HARO), creating press releases, building relationships with journalists, and creating PR stunts. 

For example, Ahrefs was featured on TechCrunch in 2022.

Ahrefs is featured in a TechCrunch article

This was possible because we had:

  1. A newsworthy event (“we’re making a search engine”).
  2. Relationships with the right people (all thanks to the hard work of my colleague, Daria Samokish).

2. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and its pages to rank higher in search engines like Google. You’d want to make sure your important pages appear on Google for relevant keywords. For example, if someone is searching for your brand, your website should appear:

Google search results for keyword "ahrefs"

But nobody will search for your brand if they do not know it exists. So beyond optimizing your homepage, you should also target keywords your customers are searching for.

At Ahrefs, we create content targeting problems our potential customers have. For example, 14,000 people per month search for “link building” in the U.S.  

14,000 people per month search for “link building” in the U.S.

This is a problem our toolset helps with, so we created a piece of content targeting that topic.

Ahrefs' link building guide

Whenever someone is searching for that keyword on Google, they’ll discover our content and, in the process, our product and brand. 

Repeat this ad infinitum and you’ll expose hundreds, if not thousands, of people to your brand (in our case, an estimated 3.4 million).

Estimated amount of search traffic Ahrefs receives every month, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Recommended reading: SEO: The Complete Guide for Beginners 

3. Social media

Creating valuable content that persuades people to follow you on social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok is a great way to generate brand awareness and build relationships with your audience.

For example, our Twitter account has 128,000 followers, and we regularly share SEO and marketing tips with our audience:

Indirect marketing: pros and cons

Should you invest in indirect marketing? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros

Here are the advantages of indirect marketing.

1. Indirect marketing builds demand and awareness

Why is it important to build brand awareness and demand? 

Simple: There are only so many people who are ready to buy right now. Most of your potential customers are still unaware they have a problem, unaware of solutions, or unaware of your particular product or service. 

So if you’re using direct marketing, you’re only focusing on a small pool of people. Not only that, but you could actually just be reaching out to people who are already primed to buy in the first place.

Eventually, you’ll still need a way to open up a pool of potential customers. And you can do that with indirect marketing tactics. 

2. Indirect marketing is less intrusive and non-pushy

Prospects purposely seek out content that helps them solve problems. Not only that, but indirect marketing tactics also rarely involve reaching out to people. 

Cons

Here are some downsides to indirect marketing.

1. Indirect marketing takes time

You can’t build a brand overnight. Neither can you amass 100,000 followers in one day. Relationships with journalists take time to build. And ranking on Google takes time too.

Results for a poll on how long SEO takes

Recognizing that customers need time to buy also means recognizing that nurturing the relationship takes time.

2. Indirect marketing is less trackable

Life gets in everyone’s way. You must have had the experience of researching for something to buy, only for you to give it up for a few years before suddenly returning to purchase it. Your customers are the same too. 

As a result, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly which indirect marketing tactic contributed to the success. But it doesn’t mean that indirect marketing doesn’t work, just that it’s not attributable. 

Direct marketing: pros and cons

Should you invest in direct marketing? Here are the pros and cons.

Pros

What are some advantages of direct marketing?

1. Direct marketing is measurable

Direct marketing tactics are usually trackable—how many opens, how many clicks, how many conversions, and so on. You can see these metrics on ad platforms and email marketing software.

2. Direct marketing is fast

Since it’s intended to elicit a response or purchase, direct marketing tactics can have an immediate impact on a business’s bottom line. 

Cons

Direct marketing is not all sunshine and roses. There are some downsides.

1. Direct marketing is intrusive

Direct marketing tactics like cold email and ads are generally seen as interruptive. That is because the prospect did not request them and yet is still served a sales message.

An unwanted ad from Emirates on the Twitter timeline

2. Direct marketing has a smaller reach

As mentioned earlier, there are only so many people who are ready and willing to buy. Direct marketing merely converts these people, but it cannot generate purchases among people who don’t even know you exist. 

3. Direct marketing can be blocked

CAN-SPAM, GDPR, ad-blockers—they exist to prevent unwanted sales messages from reaching consumers.

Examples of successful indirect marketing

Looking for successful examples of how companies have used indirect marketing? Here are three to be inspired by.

1. Ahrefs – Blog

The main marketing type we use is SEO-driven content marketing. It can be summarized into one sentence:

We create and maintain high-quality, search-focused content about topics with business potential, search traffic potential, and ranking potential.

To break it down:

  1. We research topics our customers are searching for on Google.
  2. We filter them by checking their business potential—how easy it will be to pitch our product while tackling these keywords.
  3. We prioritize by analyzing their ranking potential—how viable it is for us to rank in the top three with our available resources.
  4. We create content targeting those topics.
  5. We update or rewrite them if they don’t rank or are out of date.

This strategy means customers are always discovering us whenever they’re searching for solutions to their problems on Google. 

Ahrefs customers mentioning that they found out about our product from Google

Our strategy is simple. No fancy tactics or the latest hot trend. But this deliberate simplicity makes the strategy easy to follow and is the driving force behind our eight-figure annual recurring revenue (ARR).

Learn how to replicate our strategy in the guide below.

Recommended reading: How to Create an SEO Content Strategy (Follow the Ahrefs’ Framework) 

2. Wendy’s – Twitter

Wendy’s is a fast-food restaurant chain. Yet, you might not be able to tell from its tweets:

If you’re out of the loop, Wendy’s basically revolutionized how brands can use social media and communicate with their customers. Rather than post boring bureaucratic tweets in “corporatese,” it decided to do a 180° by sharing memes, roasting rival companies, and posting in a sassy tone. And it rarely has a call to action to visit a Wendy’s restaurant.

But this indirect marketing works for it. In a highly competitive fast-food scene, this social media strategy puts its brand top of mind. 

Not only do its tweets gain attention on the network itself, but it also spreads virally across other channels. Memes, anime parodies, and YouTube videos—the list goes on. 

Since 2012, Wendy’s has overtaken Burger King to become the #3 U.S. fast-food chain.

3. Slidebean – YouTube

Slidebean is a pitch deck design platform for startups and small businesses. It has >400,000 subscribers on YouTube. Many of its videos aren’t about pitch decks or pitch deck design; instead, they’re about startups, marketing, and business.

This is deliberate. It initially started out with topics related to its product. But it found that it exhausted those topics in a short amount of time. So it decided to move up the marketing funnel into broader topics.

Since we had found a “YouTube formula,” we decided to apply it to other kinds of content, and one of them was this idea of exploring failed companies. The first one was WeWork, which was just the right bridge between a startup-focused company and a widely known brand. At this stage, the series was called “Startup Forensics.”

However, there were only so many tech startups to explore, so we quickly opened that up to “Company Forensics” to broaden our horizons.

Jose Cayasso

This allowed Slidebean to get as many eyeballs as possible on YouTube, which puts its brand top of mind. The company hit $1.5 million in revenue with 3,000 customers in 2022. 

Final thoughts

The best companies use both indirect and direct marketing. They don’t discriminate between strategies. If you want to improve your business, you should use both. 

Any questions? Hit me up on Twitter



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