Why Your Website Needs a Best Of Listicle

28 January, 2022

Listicles sometimes get a bad rap — and that's a shame, because they're one of the easiest ways to attract web traffic with high-value content! Both your audience and the search engines favor bite-sized content with juicy information. That's exactly what listicles provide.

One of the most popular themes for listicles is the "Best Of" – an expert review of the top products or services for a given topic. These listicles entice your web visitors and demonstrate your brand authority.

Read on to explore all the benefits of listicles and how to craft the perfect listicle for your brand.

What Is a Listicle?

The word "listicle" is a mashup of "list" and "article." That's exactly what it is – an article based around a list of items. Some listicles are low-value clickbait. But those are far from representative of listicles. The best listicles are information-rich and well-written. By breaking the topic down into a list, you make it much more digestible — which means easily distracted internet users are more likely to stick around.

A listicle generally has an introductory section, then a list of products, programs, movies, or whatever. Each item in the list has its own description — like a mini-article within the listicle. Readers can easily skim the listicle to see what they'd like to read. Often, the listicle can be read out of order because each section has its own information to chew on. That encourages readers to spend more time on the page. And "time on page" is a key metric for Google page ranking!

What Are the Top Listicle Formats?

A listicle can be any sort of list with mini-articles about each item. Usually, though, they're presented as recommendations or curation: a "Best Of." After all, no one searching for information wants "meh" results! Unless you're a humor website such as Cracked, your listicle will probably feature products, services, media, etc. that you consider the best or most interesting. By curating these items, you show that you know your topic — and that your target audience can trust your brand!

Not all "Best Of" listicles are described that way. Here are just a few of the most popular listicle formats:

  • "Top X [Things]"
  • "Things to Know About [Topic]"
  • "X [Things] You've Never Heard Of"
  • "X Steps to Make [Topic]"

From film criticism to travel blogs to marketing advice, listicles are widely used to create skimmable, valuable content. And readers love them — which means Google does, too.

Why Does Google Love Listicles?

Yep, Google loves listicles! As mentioned, Google considers "time on page" a crucial factor when ranking a site's value. Having just one juicy listicle on your site can boost your domain authority — especially if you also use lots of keyword-rich headings. (More on that in a moment.)

Listicles have two characteristics that make them appealing to Google's bots: lots of subheadings and well-defined blocks of information. As you may know, Google's "Featured Snippets" section includes an excerpt from a top-ranking page. This is usually shown in response to a longtail search (i.e., a question that users type or speak into Google). Most search results pages also include the "People also ask" section, which includes popular longtail queries and snippets.

To land in either of these coveted spots, your page needs to have bite-sized, valuable content. What better way than a listicle?

Notice that in this search for "eco-friendly skincare," the top results are all listicles, and the snippets in the “People also ask" section are lists pulled from those listicles.

Best of Listicle

Google bots scan headings to determine a page's content. As you can see, those headings then get repurposed as high-ranking search engine results. All of your webpages should have multiple headings, but listicles are especially good for SEO because there are so many headings to feed the bots!

Here's another one: Zapier is publishing a list of best productivity tools. It is a productivity tool! Clever.

Best of Listicle

Why Do Listicles Generate SEO Results?

All that sounds good, but you may be wondering why you need a listicle if you're not a content-publishing company. Will a "Best Of" listicle actually boost your website's ranking?

Yes, probably! First, remember that today's consumers want value first and foremost. They are seeking answers — especially before they buy online. With Google's new focus on value-driven content rather than sales pages, it's essentially required to make blogs and articles part of your strategy. A listicle gives readers nuggets of information that help them to "know, like, and trust" your brand — priming them to purchase from you.

Second, Google's algorithms are smart enough to determine whether content is valuable. They now go beyond keywords to assess a page's relevancy to users' searches. Then, they compare that to how much time people spend on the page. Scannable, info-rich content ranks higher, which means Google considers your domain a trustworthy source of information.

Of course, your listicle should be relevant to your company's offerings. For example, check out this listicle from ClickUp featuring the top 22 project management tools. But ClickUp is a project management tool! Aren't they worried about driving traffic to competitors?

No, because they're able to include themselves on the list while providing valuable insights on other software. The list is obviously geared toward themselves, but they've created Google-friendly content that gets people in the door. It must be working, because ClickUp ranks for 269,000 organic keywords and fetches 409,000 visitors per month.

Some people balk at this approach because they don't want to give away their secrets or promote competitors. But remember, the boost in SEO rankings and brand authority is worth that small risk!

To take advantage of these benefits, structure your listicle appropriately:

  • Make the listicle title an H1 tag and all subheadings H2. Correct heading structure helps the bots scan your page.
  • Use keywords and key phrases in all headings. Research first to make sure you're using high-volume, low-competition phrases as much as possible.
  • Add images to each listing and include alt text. Search engine bots will scan these for clues about the page's content and may even net you some traffic from image searches.

How Long Should Your Listicle Be?

You may have heard that long content chases away users and that going over 300 words will kill your Google ranking. This is not entirely true.

First, the length of content isn't a problem if it's broken up into scannable, digestible sections — which is exactly what a listicle offers!

Second, Google's bots aren't human. They're not going to get bored by a long article. Their job is simply to scan pages for content, then determine the relevancy of that content. The more they have to chew on, the better. In fact, HubSpot says the ideal word count for SEO purposes is 2,100 to 2,400 words.

And honestly, you'll probably reach that length if you go into sufficient detail. The reason that listicles got a reputation for being cheap clickbait is that many of them were sparsely written. Give your readers AND the bots plenty of content to consume. Never stuff your listicle with keywords or fluff it up; think quality, not quantity! (Tip: Don't feel beholden to the "top 10" format: Your listicle can have as many or as few items as makes sense.)

Bonus: the more information-rich your listicle, the more likely people are to share and link back to it — boosting your Google ranking even more.

How Should You Promote Your Listicle?

While listicles innately appeal to search engine bots, you'll still need to do some promotion. The best part of listicles is that they're ripe for repurposing. Each mini-article on your list can have a second or third life on another digital channel. Link back to the original listicle to attract traffic and boost your domain authority.

For example, you could turn each item into a social post. Tackle it from a different angle, such as an infographic or a how-to list for the item. (Never copy and paste the same content directly into a caption.)

You can also turn the listicle into a video. YouTube is an amazing platform for brand discovery — and listicle-style videos perform very well. Then, encourage viewers to visit your website to read the full article.

If you send marketing emails, promote the listicle in a campaign. This is a great way to engage your audience across channels and get page visitors who are primed to read your content. Plus, if they share it, that boosts your traffic even more!

Wrapping Up: You Need a Best Of Listicle

We've hopefully convinced you that it's well worth your time to create a listicle. Brainstorm some topics that would appeal to your target audience and be ripe for keyword ranking. Then, let your brand value shine!

Need some ideas? Reach out to Inbound Insurance Marketing and we'll be happy to help you craft a strong content marketing strategy, featuring your Best Of listicle and ways to repurpose it.