Lists as content - still as popular?
No clear answer but macro parameters do indicate listicles are on the wane
I am about to reveal to you the 5 ways you could get rich online, and 10 ways of getting a date.
So would you read these articles? Admit it, you would take a peak, right?
Lists. We all have them in our day-to-day lives. To-do lists are right at the top. Content in the form of lists caught on from the early stage of the world wide web. People loved listicles, a combination of content and a list. So did some writers.
As a form of content, they are easy to write, easy to read, easy on the eye, and have great recall factor. Marketers just love them, and have used listicles as a lead hook - emotional, largely - for years now. I, too, have been advised occasionally by fellow marketers or a client’s business development manager to bang out a listicle. “Great for SEO, mate. A headline that says, “5 best diet apps in the world” will always get more people to click on it”.
Once listicles were a rage. Today, there's a v-2 version even - the listicle video. We had listicles on almost every subject under the sun; websites dedicated solely to the publication of listicles; listicle curating platforms, even.
So are they still very popular? There’s no definite answer to that, nor any scientific study that can point us in either direction. It’s still largely which side are you on - the pro or the anti.
Points favoring listicles are many, so are arguments against them. Listicle writers and readers say this form of writing or video saves time, is quicker (and easier) to write or develop, and is A-1 for SEO since you can focus on a long-tailed keyword. For readers, it’s easier and faster to read. What’s more, you can put a listicle down, and pick up exactly from where you left off (though, isn’t that the case with some of the other content?).
But a dipstick survey of views against listicles reveals one common contention - listicles are too subjective. Most are, I agree. That’s why they’ve lost reader interest and thus, momentum, claims the other side.
If you were to ask me, more often than not, a listicle turns out to be like that one-night stand that carries the hint of great sex but turns out to be a damp squib in bed.
Here’s an example: You get an email saying, “Here are the 5 best remote-based jobs in the world”. You open it only to find the list contains links to sites for jobs that are only based in Antarctica.
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A listicle is also, what we content providers call, “lazy” writing. As someone once said, it is quite low on the list of quality prose. That’s because almost anyone with almost no prior writing experience can bang out a listicle. Take a keyword, write a headline with some number in it, an opening paragraph, the actual list, and round it off with the “ender”. Voilà, you have a listicle. No rocket science, right?
But I would not rubbish this form of writing as well. The fact that listicles do still pop up, though at a lower frequency perhaps, means they have their use still, especially for marketers. You can, for example, re-purpose listicles faster than any other form of writing. What’s more, if deployed cleverly, listicles are a great way to explain some rather “heavy” content to the layman, like scientific theories or tech developments.
But writing a listicle to merely dumb down the subject matter is an absolute no-no in my books.
So will the listicle die eventually? I can’t still say for sure.
Whether you are in agreement or not, send in your views on listicles.