Why Your Listicles Need to Evolve for Better SEO

why your listicles need to evolve for better seoListicles are one of the most popular forms of content today, and for good reason—they’re simple, catchy, quick to read, and when done right, they’re informative. They’ve been a mainstay of the SEO and content marketing world for years, but the marketing world is always changing, and listicles are starting to change with it.

If you’re using the same listicle-based tactics you did back in 2011, you’re going to get left behind, and soon. Listicles are starting to fade in popularity, but only in certain areas. If you’re willing to adapt your strategy and comply with new consumer expectations, there’s plenty of room for listicles in your campaign.

Why Listicles Are Losing Momentum

If you want to adapt to the latest changes in the content marketing game, you need to understand what those changes are and why they’re taking place:

  • Content marketing got popular, and so did listicles. Most businesses now have some kind of content strategy, and realize the inherent benefits that listicles offer. Accordingly, the market has been flooded with listicle content, leading to consumer fatigue and disinterest—at least for traditional listicles.
  • Higher demand for depth. According to Wordstream, long-form content tends to get more likes, shares, and comments, making it a more viable and cost-effective medium for the modern era. Listicles tend to occupy the short-form content world, and are therefore missing out on this paradigm shift.
  • Listicle stigma. There’s also an increasing stigma of listicles, with some sources claiming that listicles are “killing journalism” or otherwise serve as the “junk food” of the content world. The term “listicle” has started to be used as a pejorative, though not all listicles are the low-authority garbage those sources would have you believe.

Ways to Evolve

So how can you compensate for these impending weaknesses?

  1. Include more visual content. Users are starting to crave visual content more and more every year. Images and video are faster to see and interpret than written content, and our mobile devices are getting better at downloading and displaying them. If you want more attention and more relevance, your articles need to include more visual content overall; for example, if you’re listing out the best ways to remodel a kitchen, make sure you include infographics or photos of potential layouts, rather than just describing them.
  2. Cover more specific topics. You can stand out from the crowd by creating listicles with more specific topics. This will ensure you have limited competition and will make you more relevant in the eyes of your target audience. For example, instead of ranking the top action movies of all time—which has been done hundreds of times over—you could rank the top foreign-language action movies of 2013.
  3. Dig into more details. Readers are craving more depth in their content, which is why long-form content is performing better than basic listicles. Consider pursuing a hybrid model—a listicle that has more detailed sections and analyses, to cater to those reader preferences. There are many ways to do this, including doing more original research, creating long-form listicles, or including different mediums to cater to different types of readers.
  4. Target and serve one niche. Writing listicles for the “masses” isn’t going to work anymore. The masses have millions of articles to choose from, and thousands of publishers seeking their attention each and every day. if you want to be successful, you need to narrow your focus to one demographic—one niche—that promises to earn you the most value. You’ll have to do some research to find this demographic, and once you have it, you’ll need to tweak your strategy in every dimension to appeal to it.
  5. Experiment and refine. Finally, you need to know that the listicle evolution isn’t done yet. Listicles will likely change in form and function in the near future, and audience expectations will change as well. The only way to stay on top of things indefinitely is to continually experiment with your strategy, and refine your approach. Measure your efforts, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and make cuts or additions accordingly.

No matter what you hear, listicles are still a viable strategy for the modern content marketer—you just have to make some changes to your approach. Listen to your audience, find a way to stand out, and this powerful genre of content will continue holding value for your brand.

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