InBound Marketing : Optimizing Your ListBound Content

Answering  the question “Will you get found?” depends on three things:

  • Your Content (what you have to say)
  • Your Meta Data (how you summarize and index your content)
  • Your Network (who you know, how you collaborate, your reputation and how your content gets shared)

Today I focus on practical tips around Meta Data for list bound content. I  will  paraphrase/quote both Inbound Marketing by Hubspot’s Halligan and Shah and Content Chemistry by Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina. I highly recommend both books along with Content Rules by Ann Handley and CC Chapman.

Getting your lists configured and optimized will help you generate organic search hits. Depending on your niche that could be highly valuable.

Similar content  on SEO and optimising for organic results exists in many blogs, but what’s unique to this post is the contrasting of lists made via HTML and lists made by Listly and the impact on SEO.

Comparing Lists and Posts

Lists are similar in many ways to blog posts (or pages), at least at a meta data level. On-list-SEO is practically the same as on-page SEO. Lists are both pages on Listly as well as potentially being contributors to posts or pages on your blog (i.e. Listly is a source of content). There are lots of differences, but I’ll save the differences until the end.

There has been a lot written about on-page SEO. Drawing this parallel may well just help you be more effective in your list creation. You can in the most part re-apply what you already know about SEO to lists. Let me be blatant and detail the parallels:

  • Page Title = List Title = H1 tag = Headline
  • List Items = On-Page Subheads = H2 tags
  • List URL = Blog Post URL (you can customize your list URL to include keywords just like you can a blog post)
  • Images on a List = Images inside a blog post
  • Embedded Media on your list = Embedded media on your blog (with the exception that Listly adds searchable meta data to your embedded content).

Your most important keywords need to be at the beginning of your list title for maximum effect. eg “Easy to Use Android Apps for Education” would be better phrased as “Education Apps for Android that are easy to use”. With Listly you don’t really need to add the word “list” to you list as we already add that plus the word list exists in the domain.

Always remember you are serving humans first. If you list title does not make senses people won’t click on you if you make page 1 and this means you won’t retain your position. SEO is a highly competitive discipline with many people waiting to take your place if you falter.

On-Page SEO

The big thing I want to cover in this post “on-page SEO”. Here’s a quote from Andy’s book.

There are many ways to indicate on your pages that your content is relevant. as a writer of web content, you have multiple opportunities to indicate your pages’ relevance for the target keyphrase. it often requires some small compromises to the writing, but if done well the page will rank much higher and be seen by many more people. It’s worth the compromise. Trust me.

Here’s a list of the most important places to use your target phrase to help google understand that you are relevant. They are listed in order of importance.

  • Title: Between <title> and </title>.
  • Headers: Between <h1> and </h1> as well as <h2> and so on.

It’s worth noting that with Lists on Listly you don’t need to worry about any of this meta data tagging. You simply need to focus on the content i.e. your title, your description and the items on your list.


It’s worth noting that the URL for a list is very flexible. Here’s an example of a lists “Doctors on Twitter” (featured below)

The list identifier is 4V1 (and this is case sensitive). When you wish to embed a list you will notice how this identifier is used.

The list can simply be referenced by:

And to access the RSS feed for the list use this format: 

The URL to preview this list and select your embed code would be:

In case you didn’t know Listly supports, which means it’s easy for tools like to embed a list directly inside their content. You can see how this works by pasting any Listly list URL onto this Listly page on This builds on the same list naming conventions.

You can change the title of your list as needed. The original list and important part of the list URL will remain unchanged, so any links to the list will continue to work.

The key words included in the list url i.e. “doctors-on-twitter” are taken directly from the current list title.

The url will still link to the same list as the essential part of the list is upto and including 4V1. Unlike blog posts you don’t want to change the URL post publishing for fear of breaking any links, this is just not the case with Listly.


Decide which keywords matter for you based on:

  1. Relevance – think of words your prospects will use and type into Google.
  2. Volume – not all terms have high volume.
  3. Difficulty – how hard will it be to rank relative to competition and your own authority.

Don’t solve for one factor.

Start with a list of keywords, determine volume and competition. Begin with less competitive terms. Rank for these terms to grow your authority. Don’t use the words that you use. Use the words real people use when faced with the google search box. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer.

Craft Great Titles

List titles are just the same as blog post titles when it comes to getting found.

  1. Put your most important keywords in your title
  2. Earlier words carry more weight (most important words first)
  3. Don’t forget humans – avoid titles that sound like nonsense
  4. Put your company name at the end leaving more weight to earlier terms

Meta Description Tag

  1. Keep short – 1-2 sentences. 1-154 chars
  2. Every list should have a unique title
  3. Use keywords in your description (often boldened in search results)
  4. A portion of the description is shown below the title often within search results page
  5. Does not show up on the page and does not impact search rankings

Optimizing URLS

  1. URLs determine if your content is included in the result
  2. Keywords in your URL send a subtle signal to Google.
  3. Keywords in URL lead to being defaulted to anchor text if non is supplied, which is frequently the case


The body of the page is often your list with an intro paragraph and closed off with a call to action. Headings help organize the content – acts as a visual clue. Keywords in headings are treated with more importance (this means your list item title is more important to Google. Items are tagged as h2 automatically by Listly.

  1. Use your important keywords
  2. Keep headings as short as possible.

Google Authorship

Getting found on Google is positively impacted by  featuring of your avatar inside the search results. To feature your avatar you need to configure your blog for Authorship. To do this for Listly is very simple and is outlined here

Here’s an example of Marie Ennis-O’Connor and how she is on page 1 of Google for the search term “Doctors on Twitter”


Here’s how her about page on G+ links to Listly, citing herself as a contributor (and thereby enabling authorship).


List Images

Listly automatically adds ALT tags to all images based on the item title.


Listly Lists vs HTML Lists

The short answer is that using Listly is quicker and simpler than using HTML to create your list content. Beyond the creation process the lists are then reusable as embedded content on blogs and the lists are socially collaborative, i.e. people can contribute to your lists.

Beyond these simple differences we believe the following philosophical differences are significant.


Nick Kellet Nick Kellet
Listly Curator Listly Curator
Listly Listly
8 items   7 followers   11 votes   333 views

Listly Lists vs HTML Lists



Continually evolving content

Oct 08, 2013
Continually evolving content

We believe that unlike classic blog posts or slides or videos, that content should evolve over time. This is especially relevant to lists where, for example the Top 10 iPhone Camera Apps is a relatively fast changing list. We know people love to contribute to lists on topics they care deeply about. Classic HTML lists don't change. Readers are asked to leave comments which essentially are ignored.


Easily embeddable

Oct 08, 2013
Easily embeddable

We support both the simple sharing of list and list items). This sharing works whether you share a list/item on Listly or embedded inside a blog. The person following the link you supplied will be taken to the item or the list at the same place where you shared it. The item or the list header is highlighted so show you the context/content you are seeking.



Oct 08, 2013

You can edit your list from anywhere on any device and you do not need to edit the original post once published. The content will be updated and re-indexed without updating the post. Multiple people can contribute over time as suits their needs and often timed with their discovery of the list.


Sourced by many people

Oct 08, 2013
Sourced by many people

We believe in the value of crowdsourcing. We let people add to your lists. The list owner can moderate a list and reject additions. Classic HTML lists are composed by a single person - ie the author of the post.


Layout is determined post publishing.

Oct 08, 2013
Layout is determined post publishing.

Most people craft HTML lists are design time. They make and format lists, which then cannot be changed. Listly allows multiple different blogs to choose to embed a list and choose the layout at the moment of publishing. If you have ever made a complex list with images you will know this is fiddly and prone to error. Listly makes this process super simple



Oct 08, 2013

If your lists includes playable media lists of slides, video or audio, then it becomes an unfair comparison. Listly makes light work as all you need to add to the list are the source URLS or posts and slides. You don't need to worry if the relevant plugins are installed. Whilst some content networks let you make playlists they tend to be proprietary. Listly makes it easy to create mixed media playlists for an assortment of platforms.

Oct 09, 2013 by inactive - - 48
Simpler than HTML tables

Easy to work with on web or mobile. Better than HTML tables.


Easily shareable

Oct 08, 2013
Easily shareable

We believe people want to embed valuable lists on their blog. We know this is the case. We simply seek to lower the friction of embedding lists so much so that nobody would ever want to steal your content.

From an SEO lens, Listly makes it easier to index a list than a blog post because we are both the authoring tool and the publishing tool. That’s not the case for many publishing tools as I know many people pre-author their content before opening WordPress, for example.

Image Credit: rietje via and Creative Commons


NIck Kellet (130 Posts)

Nick’s ventures range from a visual segmentation tool sold to SAP, to an award winning board game. Today, Nick is co-founder of Listly, raising the profile of lists to be on par with Slideshare & YouTube.