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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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A Detailed Guide to Writing Listicle Articles

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.

A Detailed Guide to Writing Listicle Articles

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GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After ‘Unexpected’ Delays

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GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After 'Unexpected' Delays

OpenAI shares its plans for the GPT Store, enhancements to GPT Builder tools, privacy improvements, and updates coming to ChatGPT.

  • OpenAI has scheduled the launch of the GPT Store for early next year, aligning with its ongoing commitment to developing advanced AI technologies.
  • The GPT Builder tools have received substantial updates, including a more intuitive configuration interface and improved file handling capabilities.
  • Anticipation builds for upcoming updates to ChatGPT, highlighting OpenAI’s responsiveness to community feedback and dedication to AI innovation.

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96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here’s How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]

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96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here's How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]

It’s no secret that the web is growing by millions, if not billions of pages per day.

Our Content Explorer tool discovers 10 million new pages every 24 hours while being very picky about the pages that qualify for inclusion. The “main” Ahrefs web crawler crawls that number of pages every two minutes. 

But how much of this content gets organic traffic from Google?

To find out, we took the entire database from our Content Explorer tool (around 14 billion pages) and studied how many pages get traffic from organic search and why.

How many web pages get organic search traffic?

96.55% of all pages in our index get zero traffic from Google, and 1.94% get between one and ten monthly visits.

Distribution of pages by traffic from Content Explorer

Before we move on to discussing why the vast majority of pages never get any search traffic from Google (and how to avoid being one of them), it’s important to address two discrepancies with the studied data:

  1. ~14 billion pages may seem like a huge number, but it’s not the most accurate representation of the entire web. Even compared to the size of Site Explorer’s index of 340.8 billion pages, our sample size for this study is quite small and somewhat biased towards the “quality side of the web.”
  2. Our search traffic numbers are estimates. Even though our database of ~651 million keywords in Site Explorer (where our estimates come from) is arguably the largest database of its kind, it doesn’t contain every possible thing people search for in Google. There’s a chance that some of these pages get search traffic from super long-tail keywords that are not popular enough to make it into our database.

That said, these two “inaccuracies” don’t change much in the grand scheme of things: the vast majority of published pages never rank in Google and never get any search traffic. 

But why is this, and how can you be a part of the minority that gets organic search traffic from Google?

Well, there are hundreds of SEO issues that may prevent your pages from ranking well in Google. But if we focus only on the most common scenarios, assuming the page is indexed, there are only three of them.

Reason 1: The topic has no search demand

If nobody is searching for your topic, you won’t get any search traffic—even if you rank #1.

For example, I recently Googled “pull sitemap into google sheets” and clicked the top-ranking page (which solved my problem in seconds, by the way). But if you plug that URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, you’ll see that it gets zero estimated organic search traffic:

The top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demandThe top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demand

This is because hardly anyone else is searching for this, as data from Keywords Explorer confirms:

Keyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demandKeyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demand

This is why it’s so important to do keyword research. You can’t just assume that people are searching for whatever you want to talk about. You need to check the data.

Our Traffic Potential (TP) metric in Keywords Explorer can help with this. It estimates how much organic search traffic the current top-ranking page for a keyword gets from all the queries it ranks for. This is a good indicator of the total search demand for a topic.

You’ll see this metric for every keyword in Keywords Explorer, and you can even filter for keywords that meet your minimum criteria (e.g., 500+ monthly traffic potential): 

Filtering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Reason 2: The page has no backlinks

Backlinks are one of Google’s top three ranking factors, so it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a clear correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and its traffic.

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
Pages with more referring domains get more traffic

Same goes for the correlation between a page’s traffic and keyword rankings:

Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywordsPages with more referring domains rank for more keywords
Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywords

Does any of this data prove that backlinks help you rank higher in Google?

No, because correlation does not imply causation. However, most SEO professionals will tell you that it’s almost impossible to rank on the first page for competitive keywords without backlinks—an observation that aligns with the data above.

The key word there is “competitive.” Plenty of pages get organic traffic while having no backlinks…

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
How much traffic pages with no backlinks get

… but from what I can tell, almost all of them are about low-competition topics.

For example, this lyrics page for a Neil Young song gets an estimated 162 monthly visits with no backlinks: 

Example of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content ExplorerExample of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

But if we check the keywords it ranks for, they almost all have Keyword Difficulty (KD) scores in the single figures:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

It’s the same story for this page selling upholstered headboards:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

You might have noticed two other things about these pages:

  • Neither of them get that much traffic. This is pretty typical. Our index contains ~20 million pages with no referring domains, yet only 2,997 of them get more than 1K search visits per month. That’s roughly 1 in every 6,671 pages with no backlinks.
  • Both of the sites they’re on have high Domain Rating (DR) scores. This metric shows the relative strength of a website’s backlink profile. Stronger sites like these have more PageRank that they can pass to pages with internal links to help them rank. 

Bottom line? If you want your pages to get search traffic, you really only have two options:

  1. Target uncompetitive topics that you can rank for with few or no backlinks.
  2. Target competitive topics and build backlinks to rank.

If you want to find uncompetitive topics, try this:

  1. Enter a topic into Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Set the Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to max. 20
  4. Set the Lowest DR filter to your site’s DR (this will show you keywords with at least one of the same or lower DR ranking in the top 5)
Filtering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

(Remember to keep an eye on the TP column to make sure they have traffic potential.)

To rank for more competitive topics, you’ll need to earn or build high-quality backlinks to your page. If you’re not sure how to do that, start with the guides below. Keep in mind that it’ll be practically impossible to get links unless your content adds something to the conversation. 

Reason 3. The page doesn’t match search intent

Google wants to give users the most relevant results for a query. That’s why the top organic results for “best yoga mat” are blog posts with recommendations, not product pages. 

It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"

Basically, Google knows that searchers are in research mode, not buying mode.

It’s also why this page selling yoga mats doesn’t show up, despite it having backlinks from more than six times more websites than any of the top-ranking pages:

Page selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinksPage selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinks
Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"

Luckily, the page ranks for thousands of other more relevant keywords and gets tens of thousands of monthly organic visits. So it’s not such a big deal that it doesn’t rank for “best yoga mats.”

Number of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga matsNumber of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga mats

However, if you have pages with lots of backlinks but no organic traffic—and they already target a keyword with traffic potential—another quick SEO win is to re-optimize them for search intent.

We did this in 2018 with our free backlink checker.

It was originally nothing but a boring landing page explaining the benefits of our product and offering a 7-day trial: 

Original landing page for our free backlink checkerOriginal landing page for our free backlink checker

After analyzing search intent, we soon realized the issue:

People weren’t looking for a landing page, but rather a free tool they could use right away. 

So, in September 2018, we created a free tool and published it under the same URL. It ranked #1 pretty much overnight, and has remained there ever since. 

Our rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the pageOur rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the page

Organic traffic went through the roof, too. From ~14K monthly organic visits pre-optimization to almost ~200K today. 

Estimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checkerEstimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checker

TLDR

96.55% of pages get no organic traffic. 

Keep your pages in the other 3.45% by building backlinks, choosing topics with organic traffic potential, and matching search intent.

Ping me on Twitter if you have any questions. 🙂



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Firefox URL Tracking Removal – Is This A Trend To Watch?

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Firefox URL Tracking Removal - Is This A Trend To Watch?

Firefox recently announced that they are offering users a choice on whether or not to include tracking information from copied URLs, which comes on the on the heels of iOS 17 blocking user tracking via URLs. The momentum of removing tracking information from URLs appears to be gaining speed. Where is this all going and should marketers be concerned?

Is it possible that blocking URL tracking parameters in the name of privacy will become a trend industrywide?

Firefox Announcement

Firefox recently announced that beginning in the Firefox Browser version 120.0, users will be able to select whether or not they want URLs that they copied to contain tracking parameters.

When users select a link to copy and click to raise the contextual menu for it, Firefox is now giving users a choice as to whether to copy the URL with or without the URL tracking parameters that might be attached to the URL.

Screenshot Of Firefox 120 Contextual Menu

Screenshot of Firefox functionality

According to the Firefox 120 announcement:

“Firefox supports a new “Copy Link Without Site Tracking” feature in the context menu which ensures that copied links no longer contain tracking information.”

Browser Trends For Privacy

All browsers, including Google’s Chrome and Chrome variants, are adding new features that make it harder for websites to track users online through referrer information embedded in a URL when a user clicks from one site and leaves through that click to visit another site.

This trend for privacy has been ongoing for many years but it became more noticeable in 2020 when Chrome made changes to how referrer information was sent when users click links to visit other sites. Firefox and Safari followed with similar referrer behavior.

Whether the current Firefox implementation would be disruptive or if the impact is overblown is kind of besides the point.

What is the point is whether or not what Firefox and Apple did to protect privacy is a trend and if that trend will extend to more blocking of URL parameters that are stronger than what Firefox recently implemented.

I asked Kenny Hyder, CEO of online marketing agency Pixel Main, what his thoughts are about the potential disruptive aspect of what Firefox is doing and whether it’s a trend.

Kenny answered:

“It’s not disruptive from Firefox alone, which only has a 3% market share. If other popular browsers follow suit it could begin to be disruptive to a limited degree, but easily solved from a marketers prospective.

If it became more intrusive and they blocked UTM tags, it would take awhile for them all to catch on if you were to circumvent UTM tags by simply tagging things in a series of sub-directories.. ie. site.com/landing/<tag1>/<tag2> etc.

Also, most savvy marketers are already integrating future proof workarounds for these exact scenarios.

A lot can be done with pixel based integrations rather than cookie based or UTM tracking. When set up properly they can actually provide better and more accurate tracking and attribution. Hence the name of my agency, Pixel Main.”

I think most marketers are aware that privacy is the trend. The good ones have already taken steps to keep it from becoming a problem while still respecting user privacy.”

Some URL Parameters Are Already Affected

For those who are on the periphery of what’s going on with browsers and privacy, it may come as a surprise that some tracking parameters are already affected by actions meant to protect user privacy.

Jonathan Cairo, Lead Solutions Engineer at Elevar shared that there is already a limited amount of tracking related information stripped from URLs.

But he also explained that there are limits to how much information can be stripped from URLs because the resulting negative effects would cause important web browsing functionality to fail.

Jonathan explained:

“So far, we’re seeing a selective trend where some URL parameters, like ‘fbclid’ in Safari’s private browsing, are disappearing, while others, such as TikTok’s ‘ttclid’, remain.

UTM parameters are expected to stay since they focus on user segmentation rather than individual tracking, provided they are used as intended.

The idea of completely removing all URL parameters seems improbable, as it would disrupt key functionalities on numerous websites, including banking services and search capabilities.

Such a drastic move could lead users to switch to alternative browsers.

On the other hand, if only some parameters are eliminated, there’s the possibility of marketers exploiting the remaining ones for tracking purposes.

This raises the question of whether companies like Apple will take it upon themselves to prevent such use.

Regardless, even in a scenario where all parameters are lost, there are still alternative ways to convey click IDs and UTM information to websites.”

Brad Redding of Elevar agreed about the disruptive effect from going too far with removing URL tracking information:

“There is still too much basic internet functionality that relies on query parameters, such as logging in, password resets, etc, which are effectively the same as URL parameters in a full URL path.

So we believe the privacy crackdown is going to continue on known trackers by blocking their tracking scripts, cookies generated from them, and their ability to monitor user’s activity through the browser.

As this grows, the reliance on brands to own their first party data collection and bring consent preferences down to a user-level (vs session based) will be critical so they can backfill gaps in conversion data to their advertising partners outside of the browser or device.”

The Future Of Tracking, Privacy And What Marketers Should Expect

Elevar raises good points about how far browsers can go in terms of how much blocking they can do. Their response that it’s down to brands to own their first party data collection and other strategies to accomplish analytics without compromising user privacy.

Given all the laws governing privacy and Internet tracking that have been enacted around the world it looks like privacy will continue to be a trend.

However, at this point it time, the advice is to keep monitoring how far browsers are going but there is no expectation that things will get out of hand.

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