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How to do Listicle Link Building for Backlinks and Sales Growth

There’s no denying it.

People love list posts.

And that means Google loves them too.

In fact, if you search for any product-related keyword, you’ll find a SERP stuffed with list posts.

List posts in Google
The majority of results are listicles

Google would rank individual products and eCommerce stores higher if that’s what people liked, so you can take this as a clear indicator that lists are the preferred result.

So what does this mean for your link building?

Well, it’s actually great news.

Because unlike eCommerce stores and product pages, lists posts are pages where you can get a backlink.

Even better, the links you get here aren’t your standard link inserts. Getting listed in these posts is also going to generate new customers and sales.

Not to mention, you don’t need any link building tools or expensive software to try this tactic out.

How listicle link building works

The process is simple:

  1. You have a product, service, or item that people write list posts about.
  2. You find list posts where your product could be listed, but isn’t.
  3. You email the editor and ask to have your product included.

Simple, right?

The first step is to gather your prospects.

Quick tip: You can use this tactic for all sorts of lists besides products, including lists of the top blogs in your niche.

How to find list posts

Finding list posts is extremely simple.

All you have to do is search for them in Google.

In order to get the best results, you’ll want to cast a wide net and search for a variety of search terms.

For example, if I had a dieting app that I wanted to build links for, I would search Google for queries like:

  • Diet apps
  • Meal planning apps
  • Calorie tracking apps
  • Fitness apps
  • Best iPhone apps
  • Best Android apps
  • Health apps
  • Wellness apps

You can probably come up with a ton of ideas off the top of your head, but feel free to use a keyword research tool to expand the list more.

Once you’ve got a decent list of relevant search terms prepared, you can begin your prospecting.

Quick tip: adding “best” to your keyword usually results in more list post results.

How to find prospects

Start by Googling the first of your keywords.

Work your way through the SERPs and copy the URL of every list post you find.

You can create a spreadsheet with the URLs or add them straight into your outreach app of choice.

The most important part is that you don’t stop at page 1. Keep digging deeper into the results until you can’t find any more list posts. That could be as far as page 20.

This will get you a ton of results per keyword.

It’s tedious work, but it’s going to pay off with some stellar backlinks soon. And keep in mind, you don’t have to do all the prospecting upfront. If you find 50 list posts from your first two keywords, you can stop there and move on to the outreach.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about what that email looks like.

The best part: these aren’t ordinary link inserts; these links will send new customers too.

How to write your outreach email

If you want a high response rate from your outreach email, there are two rules to keep in mind.

Rule #1: Keep it short

If you want your prospects to take action, you need them to read your email, which means it needs to be short.

When I get an outreach email that is a few sentences long, I read the whole thing.

When I get a cold outreach email with 6 paragraphs, I close it almost immediately. I’ll do a 2-second scan to make sure it’s not a bad email from someone I know, and then I’m gone.

Rule #2: Offer something in return

If you want a high success rate, you’ve got to give them an offer.

Let your prospects know you’re willing to link in return, pay them, or return the favor in some other way.

When I get an outreach email that offers nothing in return, I close it. It’s way too much work for me to try and get value out of it, especially when so many link builders refuse to reciprocate in any way.

With that in mind, here’s an email of mine you can copy for your own campaigns.

My example email

I’ve sent a few variations of the email below, and they have a combined 11.6% success rate from 508 prospects (59 backlinks).

Here’s my most recent iteration of the email:


I hope you're having a great week!

I'm writing because I saw your list of PRODUCTS where you recommend COMPETITOR, and I recently launched a more ADJECTIVE alternative called PRODUCT.

Would you be interested in including it in your post? I'd be happy to provide an image and unique description written for your site, and I can add a link to any post of yours from my website (DR XX) in return.

Let me know!

Replace anything in ALL CAPS with your own relevant words.

Instead of the usual fake “I loved your post” nonsense, let them know you have a better product for their post. Mentioning the name of an actual product will get their attention and let them know you looked at the article.

The second paragraph asks them directly to include your product. Offer to send them an image and a unique description written for their site, as well as a link from your authoritative site.

All they have to do is copy and paste some content, and they get a high-quality backlink in return. It’s a pretty good deal for anyone interested in link building, which brings me to the subject line.

My subject line

Here’s the subject line I always use, and it works wonderfully:

Quick link collaboration

Why does this work?

Because it targets the type of person that is going to link, anyone who is interested in link swaps is going to open this email ready to reciprocate.

It would be a shame if the intention of the email was obfuscated and all the link builders ignored the email, so make it clear you’re interested in a link collaboration.

Feel free to customize the email to your liking (I tweak it often), and then it’s time for the outreach.

Quick tip: do your best to find the recipient’s name. Using their name in the intro will massively increase your response rate!

How to handle responses

This tactic works really well, but landing your links is going to take some work.

Each time someone agrees, you’ll need to write a new 100-150 word description and add a link for them, so you’ll want an organized system.

Prepare the graphics

For starters, get at least two graphics designed for list posts at the following sizes:

  • 1200px x 800px
  • 1200px x 400px

Most sites use a nearly square image or a much more narrow image for their list post items, so this will cover both preferences. 1200px will be wide enough for virtually all websites, and they can easily resize it if they need it to be smaller.

The graphic can have a colored background, an image/screenshot of your product, and the logo. Something like this:

Using these three elements, you can show off the product, reinforce the brand, and ensure it pops against a white background.

Once you have your graphics, zip them up so they can be easily attached to your emails.

Optimize your writing environment

You can write the descriptions really quickly if you have the right environment prepared.

First of all, any writing app can work, but make sure the word count is plainly visible, so you’ll know when you’ve hit your goal (100-150 words).

Second, keep a list of your product’s features on-screen, so you can reference them as you write.

And lastly, use an integrated grammar checker like Grammarly. This way, you can catch your mistakes immediately without needing to re-read your description.

Using these tactics, you can write a unique description in 2-3 minutes.

With your graphics prepared and your writing environment set up, you’ll be able to get new links in a matter of minutes after a positive response.

Build more links with these tactics

There are so many list posts in every niche. You can use this tactic over and over again to build new links to your site.

While it does take more work than a simple link swap, you get to control the content surrounding your link, and you can get new customers from these links too.

If the listicle link building works well for you, you’ll probably enjoy the other email outreach link building tactics outlined here:

13 Link Building Outreach Email Examples [Copy & Paste Templates]

And if you get link building fatigue, try this method for passively building links instead:

How to Get Natural Backlinks (Passive Link Building)

Thanks for checking out this tutorial on listicle link building, and please consider sharing it with someone else using the buttons here.

If you have any questions about how to build links with list posts, leave a comment below.

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