How To Write A Listicle That Attracts Traffic & Backlinks

  • Matthew Woodward
  • Updated on Jun 10, 2024

If you aren’t writing listicles regularly, you are missing out.

Think about it:

Not only do people love to read listicles, but they are also one of the easiest pieces of content to write.

Listicles can be used for almost any type of content in any niche.

Plus they are fantastic for generating free backlinks!

Some of my most popular blog posts are listicles. There is just something about a listicle that makes you want to click and read it.

You are about to learn my seven steps to creating an effective listicle that not only ranks well but gets more clicks in the SERPs.

What Is A Listicle?

Listicles are blog posts or articles written in a list-based format.

They are sometimes called list posts and consist of 10-20+ different points on a specific theme.

The list is usually made up of a number of subheadlines and written content underneath provides information about that point.

link building strategies page

Here are some example listicles we have published-

Listicles are a great post style because you can use them for almost any topic in an easy-to-understand format for your readers.

Why People Love Listicles So Much

Want to make your content more interesting?

Listicles are a great way to engage your readers.

There are a number of reasons that list posts are so popular amongst readers.

A Listicle Title Tells People What To Expect

Here’s the deal:

You wouldn’t click and read a blog post if you didn’t know what it’s about, right?

It’s just not worth your click if you don’t know what you’re going to learn. Your readers want to know what they are getting themselves into.

This is what makes blog titles so important.

A good blog title stops the scroll, explains:

  • What the blog is about.
  • What the reader can expect to learn.

Listicles are the best because the titles give the entire story upfront.

For example, in my blog about link building strategies, just from the title you can see that it lists the best link building strategies to use to build high-quality backlinks.

link building strategies page

When readers know what to expect from your blog from the title, they are more likely to:

  • Click on it
  • Read it

Listicles Are Easy To Understand

Ever read a blog about a complex topic, got to the end, and thought:

“I am more confused now than I was before?”

I get it…complex topics can be hard to write about.

Clearly communicating the information in a way that your audience understands is not always easy.

writing struggle

This is where listicles can be a real lifesaver.

Even with complicated topics- it’s easier for your audience to understand because each point is broken down.

Listicles Allow People To Find Information Quickly

People are busy.

There is never enough time in the day to get everything done. That’s why when most people read articles, they don’t read the whole thing.

They just:

  • Skim
  • Scan

…looking for the information that interests them.

That’s totally fine.

Your readers just want the good bits and then they’re ready to move on. Listicles are the ultimate format for “skimmers“.

Everything is organised under subheadlines allowing your readers to find the information they want quickly.

People Always Know How Much Is Left To Read

There is nothing worse than spending ages reading a blog post only to realise you are less than halfway through.

With listicles, you always know how much longer there is to go.

If the article is a list of 9 items and you are at item number 5- you know exactly how much more there is to read.

toc example

Why is this important?

If your article has 37 different points and takes 12 minutes to read, your readers want to know that before starting and making the decision for themselves.

Listicles are a great way of telling your audience just how big the article is and where they are up to in it.

How To Write A Great Listicle Step By Step

So you can see why people love reading listicles so much.

But how do you write a listicle for yourself?

Here is my easy-to-follow 7 step process that is so simple- it will basically write itself.

Step 1: Choose A Topic

First up, choose the topic that you are going to write about.

Listicles tend to work best for topics that have a collection of items that will be best understood when listed out.

For example, I recently published a 27 point on-page SEO checklist as a listicle.

example listicle post on page seo

All of the points are based on the topic of on-page SEO.

The listicle format makes it super easy for the reader to go through each point and implement what they are learning.

There are two great ways to choose a topic:

  1. Your Experience
  2. SEO Keywords

Experience Based Topic

Choosing a topic specifically based on your experience allows you to cover a popular topic in a way that no one else could.


Because no one else has had the same experience as you.

Your experience is completely unique. This allows you to take a different perspective on the topic altogether.

Choose A Keyword Based Topic

The second option is to choose a topic based on a keyword you want to target.

If your primary goal is to drive as much organic SEO traffic as possible- this is one for you.

You want to make sure that you do effective keyword research to find popular topics with a good search volume.

Once you’ve found a topic you’re happy with, you need to format it properly.

Step 2: Choose A Format

Now choose the listicle format that works best for your topic.

Listicles can be formatted in a couple of different ways.

  1. Basic List Post
  2. Detailed List Post

Both formats are used to accomplish different things.

Basic List Post

The basic list post is the most simple and easiest format to use.

It’s a short and sweet list of almost anything you can think of.

This involves a headline and then a couple of sentences of text, then the next headline, and so on.

This is the kind of post you are most likely to see on a publication like Buzzfeed.

buzzfeed article example

This basic list post style works really well for social media because it’s straightforward and doesn’t take long to read. Great for skimmers!

Here’s the problem:

The basic list post format doesn’t work well for SEO focussed content.

This style of the basic format tends to be a short post, where the content is thin and consumed quickly.

It’s designed for topics that are simple but still very interesting.

Detailed List Post

The detailed list post is a normal listicle that has a lot of value packed into it which is great for SEO focussed content.

Here’s what I mean. The general structure of a list post is:

  • Point #1
    • Content
  • Point #2
    • Content
  • Point #3
    • Content

And so on.

With detailed list posts, you add more meat to each point and expand on what you’re teaching.

This way your reader gets all of the information they need on the topic and it’s still in an easy-to-read listicle format.

Detailed list posts are best for practical based, “how-to” content.

For example, my SEO copywriting blog is a listicle style post but each point has a ton of content underneath it that brings a lot of value to the readers.

seo copywriting listicle example

The post comprehensively teaches SEO copywriting in a listicle format.

There is no extra research required. The reader can go through the post in one tab while implementing what they learn in another tab.

Step 3: Choose A Unique Approach

At the heart of every great article is the approach you choose to take.

Your approach should be determined by:

  • Who your target audience is.
  • What you think will make the biggest impact.

Here are some approaches to consider.

Beginners Or Experts Oriented

Before to start writing, you need to know how much knowledge your readers have about the topic you are writing about.


Because this will directly influence:

  • How you write your listicle
  • The terminology that you use

For example, I wrote a listicle about the Google page experience update.

google page experience update checklist

Although this can be a very technical topic, I wanted to write it so that even beginner SEOs would understand it.

I used simple language and made the steps super easy to follow.

Make sure you don’t try to write a listicle for both:

  • Beginners
  • Experts

Choose one or the other.

This will ensure that your blog is to the point, easy to follow and the reader goes away understanding the topic sufficiently.

Roundup With Influencers

This is a great way to create high-quality content without

…actually writing much yourself.

A roundup with influencers is when you contact a bunch of influencers and ask them to write their opinion about a topic.

Then, all you have to do is:

  1. Combine all of their answers
  2. Organise them into a blog post

Here’s an example of when I did this for my local SEO expert roundup blog.

listicle roundup example

The key is that you get each influencer to give specific advice about the topic. This is where the value is for your readers.

Let me explain:

In the previous example, I had 20 of the biggest names in SEO provide advice on local SEO which means that…

…my audience got to hear from 20 experts through the listicle format which makes their advice easy to consume and understand.

Who wouldn’t read a post like that?

Personal Experience

Your experience is what makes you unique.

This is one of the biggest things that will differentiate you from your competitors.

Listicles provide a great format to share and teach your audience based on your own personal experience.

Think about:

  • What do I have lots of experience in?
  • What do I really love to talk about?
  • What perspective do you take on the topic?
  • What stories can I share with my readers?

This is where you can pinpoint your unique experience and share them with your audience.

For example, like many other SEOs, I wrote a post about Google ranking factors but, to make it different and add value to the readers, I broke them down into positive and negative factors- based on my SEO experience.

toc example post


Your audience won’t just read your content because they want to learn something. They will read your content because they want to hear your perspective on it.

Results Oriented

If you are anything like me…

You love data. Nothing gets the blood pumping more than a beautiful graph with numbers running down the side.

Listicles are a great way to break down results-oriented posts into easy-to-understand chunks. This helps you structure your results and makes it super simple for your readers to follow.

results oriented listicles

Even if you don’t have unique results that you have gathered, you can find 5-10 other blogs online and write a listicle about the results they found.

“Best of”

This is probably the most popular type of listicle. In many ways, it’s very similar to the roundup with influencers approach.

Everyone wants to know what the “best of” something is.

It’s what makes this approach so engaging for readers. The “best of” approach is also great for SEO.

Think about it:

If you were hiring a guest posting service, you would probably search Google for “best guest posting services“.

This is precisely the reason I wrote a blog about the 5 best guest posting services.

best guest posting services

I just provided the top 5 guest posting services and my target audience gets the information they want.

Best of” might even be the ultimate listicle approach.


Want your content to really get noticed?

Nothing is more powerful than:

  • Running your own test(s)
  • Displaying your findings in a listicle styled post.

My best example of this is my Fastest WordPress Hosting blog.

fatest wordpress hosting post

I put 12 of the best WordPress hosting platforms to the test to see which one was really the fastest. While this might seem pretty straightforward, it wasn’t.

Tests take a lot of effort. That’s what makes them so engaging for your audience.

With my WordPress hosting blog, I ran 5 tests on each of the 12 contenders.

Not only did it take quite a lot of time to do the test but writing about my findings was also a challenge.

That’s why I chose the listicle format.

The listicle format helped me stay on track with what I was presenting and made it easy for my audience to understand each of the results.

But was it worth it?

Yes! To date, I have had 248 individual comments on this post and over 300,000 page views.

Not bad, right?

Step 4: Write Down All Your Ideas

Let’s recap.

You have chosen the:

  • Topic you will write about
  • Format you’re going to use
  • Unique approach you’ll take

Now it’s time to decide the list of points you will put into your listicle. For this, I have three tactics to use.

Brainstorm Your List Of Points

To start with, brainstorm the points of your article. This is how you get your ‘seed’ points as you would start with seed keywords in keyword research.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What points relate directly to the topic?
  • What needs to be included to cover the topic fully?
  • What is my audience interested in using?
  • What are my favourite points to include?

If you answer all four of these questions, you should have a good number of points to start with.

Expand Each Idea

To really make sure that you have the best possible points for your listicle, you can expand on each idea with help from Ahrefs.

If you don’t have an Ahrefs account, you can get a 7-day trial for only $7.

Use Ahrefs’ “Also Talk About” Report

Navigate to Ahrefs keyword explorer and click on the “Also talk about” report. Type in one of your target keywords and hit “enter”.

also talk about report

The report displays the:

  • Words
  • Phrases

…frequently mentioned by the top-ranking pages for the keyword you put in.

Use the relevant words or phrases in the report to come up with new points.

This is a great way to generate new points for your listicle because not only can you be confident that your audience is interested in these points- but it will also help your article rank in the search results.

Now that’s a win-win.

Use Aherfs’ Toolbar To Extract Subheadings

It’s time to put the cherry on top of your listicle points and finalise them.

Most listicles use subheadings as the key points.

So one of the best ways to get ideas for points is to extract the subheadings from the top-ranking articles on the same topic.

You can do this easily and for free with Ahrefs SEO Toolbar.

First, you need to install the chrome extension.

ahrefs chrome extension

Open one of the top-ranking pages and click the little page icon in the top left for the on-page report.

seo toolbar

This will immediately give you a breakdown of each subheading used on the page. Done!

By now you should have a ton of different points to use for your listicle.

Go ahead and choose the ones you will use.

Step 5: Elaborate Each Point Of Your List

This is where we come to the meat of the listicle.

It’s time to flesh out each point and provide the information your readers can’t wait to get their hands on.

The level of detail that you go into for each point depends entirely on the format you chose earlier:

  • Basic list post: write just a few sentences for each point
  • Detailed list post: write as much as you need to cover the point in detail

What’s important here is that you keep the unique approach of your article in mind.

If you are writing a listicle post for beginners, don’t use too much jargon or fancy industry language. You want to keep it simple and easy to understand.

Another thing to focus on is your unique experiences. Don’t just write content for each point that is similar to other high-ranking articles.

Think about what you can add to make the content truly unique.

Step 6: Illustrate Your Points

One of the most underused things in blogging is images.

For most blog writers, images are a complete afterthought.

They spend ages writing a quality piece of content just to find a couple of stock images to throw in at the end.

All of your blog posts should have quality images that illustrate what you are writing about. This is even more important for listicles.

Use multimedia in listicle

Images help communicate points. You should always aim to “show” your audience rather than just “tell” them whenever you can.

Images can include:

If you have videos available, it’s definitely worth putting them in your content when relevant.

In my listicles, I aim to put at least one image every 200-300 words. This breaks up the text nicely and makes it easy for readers to understand each point.

Step 7: Don’t Forget To Wrap Things Up

This is something that really gets me.

If you check out my blog posts, you will almost always see a final section titled “Wrapping It Up“.

wrapping it up

There are tons of bloggers out there that don’t finish their blogs off properly. They simply write the final point and that’s the end of the article.

I can’t overstate how important it is to conclude your listicle every single time.

A listicle conclusion does three things:

  1. Summarises the key points of the listicle
  2. Allows you to share a final thought
  3. Allows you to put in a CTA

These three things help your readers remember what they just read and tells them what they should do next.

Examples Of Listicles

To help you understand what a good listicle looks like, I have a bunch of examples to share.

I used the same 7 steps above to write each of these:

GROWTH ALERT: Click Here To Increase Your Search Traffic Step by Step

Why You Should Write & Publish Listicles

There is something about listicles that just makes them so irresistible for readers.

As a blog writer, here are four reasons you should be writing and posting listicles regularly.

1. People Love Reading Listicles

This is reason enough. You want your audience to read your content right?

People love reading listicles because:

  • They stand out from other blogs
  • They’re easy to read
  • You can skim through them quickly
  • You get heaps of information

Listicles are entertaining and straightforward to read. Understanding the topic is much easier because the content is very organised.

2. Listicles Are Easy To Plan And Write

Lists are easier to write.

Writing a large article of 1,500-2,000+ words consistently can be:

  • Daunting
  • Overwhelming

The format of listicles is what makes them not only easy to plan but also much easier to write.

Writing listicle

You see:

You are only writing 200-300 words on each point.

Even though the entire listicle might be over 2,000 words, the format automatically breaks it down into smaller chunks.

3. Listicles Are Great For SEO

Not only does your audience love listicles, but search engines love them too.

Listicles have a number of SEO benefits such as:

Listicles allow you to cover topics comprehensively. That’s why they are real winners when it comes to targeting keywords.

Whenever you do a Google search, you will often see listicle-style blogs featured in the top 10 results.

listicles for targeting keywords

Not only do listicles rank well, but they are great for your external link building strategies.

Listicle can also help your internal link building. They give tons of opportunities to link to other pieces of content that you have written.

Not only does this help in terms of SEO, but it will also send more traffic to those blog posts.

If you want to boost your SEO- write more listicles.

4. Listicles Are Easy To Keep Updated

It’s no secret that Google loves fresh content.

If you want your articles to continue dominating the search results you need to regularly update them.

Google (and your audience) cares about how recent your content is which is why Google shows the date it was written in the search results.

content freshness

I am more likely to click on a piece of content that was written recently rather than one that was written a couple of years ago. Keeping your content fresh and updated is a great way to improve your click-thru rate in the SERPs.

Wrapping It Up

Listicle content is truly king.

People just love them and they are easy to write. But not all listicles are created equal.

Just because listicles are easy to write doesn’t mean you don’t have to deliver quality. Take the time and follow each of the 7 steps.

Choose the right topic, format, and approach. Put some time and effort into writing and you’ll have a recipe for organic success.

Don’t forget:

What really brings a listicle to life is YOU.

Your unique perspective and experiences mean you create a piece of content that your audience can’t help but share!

No time to write? Check these content writing services!

search logistics cta

What Are Your Thoughts?

5 Responses

  1. Hey Mathew, I regularly follow your blog. But I landed on this post via FB group. You have written a comprehensive post on Listicle. Thanks for sharing the good work.

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