How to Write a Listicle That Naturally Attracts Backlinks

How to Write a Listicle That Naturally Attracts Backlinks

Listicles are not the next big thing in content creation. They have been around for a while now.

Businesses have been using them to attract brand attention, drive website traffic, and boost SEO rankings. But did you know that listicles can also be a powerful tool to attract editorial backlinks?

This article will explore how to write a listicle that naturally attracts backlinks and drives traffic.

First, let’s understand what a listicle is.

What is a Listicle?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a listicle as “an article on the internet presented as a numbered or bullet-pointed list.”

In simpler terms, it’s an article that lists down points or items related to a specific topic. Listicles are popular because they’re easy to read, visually appealing, and easily digestible. Readers can quickly scan through the list, decide which points interest them, and click on the ones they want to read further.

Due to their engaging nature, content creators have been using listicles to attract more readers and increase engagement.

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Why Are Listicles Great for Attracting Backlinks?

Listicles are interesting to scan through, making them highly shareable. When readers find something valuable, they will likely share it on social media or link it to their content.

Moreover, listicles are often bookmarked for future reference, making them a long-term source of referral traffic.

Why Are Listicles Great for Attracting Backlinks?

Listicles are interesting to scan through, making them highly shareable

They’re Easy to Read

Listicles are interesting to scan through, making them highly shareable. When readers find something valuable, they will likely share it on social media or link to it in their content.

That is because listicles are visually appealing, easy to read, and digestible.

Moreover, they’re effective in grabbing readers’ attention and keeping them engaged throughout the article. A well-written listicle can easily hold your readers’ attention from start to finish.

Often Bookmarked for Future Reference

Moreover, listicles are often bookmarked for future reference, making them a long-term source of referral traffic.

They Simplify Information

Imagine digging through a lengthy, complex article to find information on a specific topic. It’s time-consuming and often overwhelming.

Listicles, on the other hand, simplify information by breaking it down into bite-sized chunks. That way, readers can easily find what they need without reading the entire article.

The Psychology of Achievement

Our human mind likes to check items off a list. It gives us a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

Listicles tap into this psychology by presenting information in an organized and structured manner. As readers go through the list, they feel a sense of progression and completion, making it more likely for them to share or link to the article.

The Creative License

Listicles offer a creative license to writers and content creators. They provide the freedom to weave in different elements, such as humor, images, or interactive components.

You’re not limited to a traditional writing style or a particular format. That opens up endless possibilities to stand out and attract backlinks naturally.

The Headlines Promise Answers or Solutions

Last but not least, listicles often have headlines that promise answers or solutions to a problem.

For instance, “10 Tips for Boosting Your Social Media Engagement” or “5 Strategies to Increase Your Website Traffic.” 

The sub headlines further break down the points, making it easier for readers to skim and find what they need.

This headline structure is attractive to readers looking for quick solutions or answers. And when they find them in your listicle, they are more likely to share it with their audience or link back to it in their content.

How to Write a Listicle That Naturally Attracts Backlinks

Choose a format that best suits your topic and writing style. You can also mix and match different formats within a listicle to make it more interesting

Now that we understand why listicles are great for attracting backlinks, let’s dive into how to write one.

Identify a Trending or Relevant Topic

The topic you choose to write about will determine how well your listicle performs. It should be something your audience is interested in and can relate to.

You also want to make sure the topic covers a collection of items that can be easily broken down into a list.

For example, “Top 10 Social Media Trends to Watch Out for in 2022” or “51 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Vacation.”

So, how do you choose a topic to write a link-worthy listicle about? Here are some ideas:

  • Look for trending topics or keywords in your industry. E.g., “Sustainable Fashion Trends” or “Best Online Marketing Tools.
  • Conduct keyword research to see what people are searching for. E.g., “How to Write a Listicle in 7 Easy Steps” or “10 Benefits of Content Marketing.”
  • Ask your audience on social media what they would like to read about 
  • Use tools like BuzzSumo or Google Trends to find popular topics. E.g., “Top 10 Travel Destinations for Digital Nomads” or “The Rise of Plant-Based Diets.”
  • Use your experience and expertise to create a unique angle on a common topic. E.g., “5 Unconventional Ways to Boost Your Productivity” or “The Future of Work in a Post-Pandemic World.”

Choose a Listicle Format

Depending on the topic and your writing style, you can choose from different listicle formats.

Here are some common ones:

  • Numbers: This is the most popular format for a listicle. It uses numbers to list down items, such as “5 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health” or “20 Must-Have Tools for Freelancers.”
  • Bullets: Bulleted lists are great for organizing information that doesn’t necessarily have a specific order, such as “10 Reasons Why People Love Shopping Online.”
  • Alternatives: This format lists other options to solve a problem or achieve something, such as “7 Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives” or “12 Sustainable Alternatives to Plastic Straws.”
  • Comparison: As the name suggests, this format compares different options or ideas, such as “WordPress vs. Wix: Which One is Better for Your Website?” or “10 Pros and Cons of Remote Work.”
  • Reverse Order: You start with the least important item and end with the most crucial one, such as “9 Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity (And How to Fix Them).”
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Choose a format that best suits your topic and writing style. You can also mix and match different formats within a listicle to make it more interesting.

Choose a Unique Angle

Your listicle shouldn’t be a direct copy of what’s already out there. It should offer a unique perspective or add value to the existing information.

For this, you want to choose a unique approach, depending on who your target audience is and the impact you want to create.

For example, if your target audience is beginners, you can write a listicle with beginner-friendly tips or alternatives. If your target audience consists of experts, you might want to offer advanced strategies or comparisons. You can also add personal experiences, case studies, or expert opinions to make your listicle stand out.

Here are the different approaches you can take to create a unique angle for your listicle:

Beginner or Expert-Oriented

Before you begin writing, define your target audience and choose the level of expertise you want to focus on.

See how much knowledge they already have on the topic and if they would find value in your offer.

For example, if you’re writing about “10 SEO Tools for Beginners,” your angle would be beginner oriented. If you’re writing about “10 Advanced SEO Strategies to Boost Your Ranking,” your angle would be expert oriented.

Whatever you do, don’t write a listicle that targets both beginners and experts.

Roundup with Influencers

Another way to create a unique angle is by collaborating with influencers or experts in your industry.

You can ask them for their top tips, recommendations, or predictions on a particular topic and include them in your listicle.

That adds credibility to your content and allows you to reach a wider audience and earn backlinks from the influencers’ websites.

Here’s what you can do with the responses you get:

  • Include their tips or quotes within the listicle with proper attribution and link back to their website.
  • Use their responses as inspiration for your own points in the listicle and link back to them as a reference.
  • Combine all the answers into a listicle and publish it as a blog post.

Result-oriented

Google loves data-driven content that provides solutions to users’ problems.

Nothing gets the search engine raving more than a beautiful graph or chart with compelling data to back it up.

Listicles are an excellent format for presenting data in a visually appealing and easy-to-digest manner. Use relevant statistics, surveys, or case studies to support your points and make them more convincing.

For example, if you’re writing about “10 Email Subject Lines That Get the Most Clicks,” include data on how those subject lines performed and link back to the source.

Best Of

The best listicle format is popular in the entertainment, food, and travel industries. It’s basically a curated list of the best options in a particular category.

For example, “10 Must-Watch Movies on Netflix” or “Top 5 Restaurants for Italian Cuisine.” 

This format can be used for any industry; you just need to find the right angle and make your article helpful and exciting for your readers.

Readers always want to know what’s trending and the best options available, so this format is perfect for attracting backlinks and increasing traffic, especially from the brands or businesses that make it to your list.

For example, if you’re in the dental industry, you can write a “Top 10 Dentists in Your City” listicle and reach out to those dentists for potential collaborations or backlinks.

Tests and Experiments

Experiment-based listicles are highly shareable, as readers love seeing real-life examples and results

Another unique angle to take is by conducting tests or experiments yourself.

For example, if you’re writing about “10 Ways to Increase Your Website Speed,” you can conduct a speed test on different websites and present the results in your listicle. You can also include screenshots or video documentation to make it more visually appealing.

You can experiment with virtually anything, from products and services to different strategies or techniques. Just be sure to document your process and results accurately.

Experiment-based listicles are highly shareable, as readers love seeing real-life examples and results. It also adds a personal touch to your content, making it more authentic and trustworthy.

Other bloggers are also more likely to quote or link back to your experiment, making it an excellent way to earn backlinks naturally.

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  • A/B testing different marketing strategies
  • Trying out different productivity hacks
  • Comparing different products or services in the same category

Write Down Your Ideas

Now that you’ve chosen your format and unique angle, it’s time to brainstorm ideas for your listicle.

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Start by jotting down all the potential topics within your chosen angle. Don’t worry about organizing them at this stage; just let your creativity flow.

Write Down the following:

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  • The topics you want to write about
  • The format you’ll use
  • The unique approach you’ll take
  • Possible collaborators or influencers to include
  • Data or experiments you can conduct

Once you have a list of ideas, prioritize them based on their relevance and potential value to your target audience.

Next, list down the points you want to cover for each topic. Aim for a minimum of five points per topic; this will help make your listicle more comprehensive and valuable.

Remember to keep your headlines and content concise, engaging, and informative. Use catchy titles or numbers to break up the text and make it visually appealing.

Lastly, don’t forget to include proper attribution and links when necessary. That will add credibility to your content and make it easier for readers to find the original sources.

Leverage Ahref’ Also Talk About’ Report

If you have Ahrefs, you can use their “Also talk about” report to find relevant topics to include in your listicle.

This report shows the most frequently used words and phrases in top-ranking articles for a particular keyword. It’s an excellent tool for finding related subtopics you might have missed.

All you need to do is enter your main keyword, select the country and language, and click on the “Also talk about” report under the SERP overview.

You’ll see a list of related topics, along with their search volume and difficulty score. That will give you an idea of what other subtopics you can include in your listicle to make it more comprehensive and valuable.

Use Ahrefs’ Tool Bar to Extract Subheadings

Another helpful feature of Ahrefs is its toolbar, which allows you to extract subheadings from top-ranking articles.

It’s free to use and can help you save time when researching for your listicle. Install the toolbar extension on your browser, go to the top-ranking article, and click the “Extract subheadings” button.

The toolbar will automatically extract all the subheadings from that page and present them in a list. You can then use these as inspiration for your own points or include them in your listicle as additional information.

Elaborate on Each Point with Data and Examples

Now that you have your list of points, it’s time to elaborate on each one by providing data and examples.

Remember to use various sources, such as studies, surveys, case studies, or even personal experiences. It will make your listicle more credible and valuable to readers.

You can also use visuals like images, graphs, or videos to break up the text and make it more visually appealing.

The idea is to ensure each point drives home your main message and provides valuable information to your target audience.

Don’t fluff up the content with unnecessary information or filler words. Keep it concise and to the point, providing enough value to keep your readers engaged.

Keep It Simple and jargon-free if Possible

Think about the average reader who will come across your listicle. They may not be familiar with industry-specific jargon or technical terms. You want to ensure your content is accessible and easily understandable for a wider audience.

If you must use industry-specific language, be sure to define it or provide an explanation in simpler terms.

Illustrate Your Points with Visuals

As mentioned earlier, visuals can make your listicle more engaging and visually appealing. Use images, graphs, or videos to illustrate your points and break up the text.

Stock images aren’t the way to go; instead, try to use original visuals that relate to your content. You can take your own photos or create custom graphics using tools like Canva or Adobe Illustrator.

Here are the images you can include:

  • Real photos or footage
  • Graphs or Charts (Excel)
  • Infographics (Canva, Adobe Illustrator)
  • Animated GIF for illustrating a process
  • Screenshots or video documentation
  • Custom illustrations (Canva, Adobe Illustrator)

Here’s a recommendation: After 200 or 300 words, include an image or graphic to break the text and make it visually appealing.

If you can’t find relevant visuals, generate a shareable quotable from the text using tools like Canva or Adobe Spark. That can also help increase social media shares and engagement.

Remember to Wrap Things Up

After covering all your points, you don’t want to end things just like that. Wrap up your listicle by summarizing the key takeaways and providing a call to action.

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Here’s what your conclusion should include:

  • A brief summary of the key points covered
  • The main message or takeaway of your listicle
  • Final thoughts or opinions on the topic
  • A call to action for readers (e.g., asking them to share their thoughts in the comments or check out another related article)

Listicles have a special place in the online content world. People love them because they are easy to read, visually appealing, and provide valuable information in bite-sized chunks. But creating a successful listicle goes beyond just listing random topics. It requires research, organization, and attention to detail.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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