The Future of Listicles in an AI-Dominant World

The digital marketing landscape is continually evolving, and with the rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), a fundamental shift is underway. A recent tweet by Ryan Law, a prominent voice in digital content, presents an intriguing argument that echoes the sentiment of many who navigate the waters of content marketing: the traditional listicle, a staple of content marketing, could be on the verge of extinction, largely due to the advancements in generative AI​.

Tweet about the listicle dying

Law points out some of the inherent flaws in the listicle format. Often, these articles lack substantial selection criteria, they're riddled with bias, and they present recycled information from existing search results, essentially perpetuating a cycle of regurgitated data. This leads to the creation of content that is thin, lacks originality, and doesn't truly solve problems for the reader​​.

A perfect case in point is the world of web hosting. We've all seen those articles titled “The Top 10 Web Hosting Services for 2023” or “The Best Web Hosting Companies for Small Businesses.” The problem with these listicles is not only the lack of firsthand experience but also the evident biases. These articles often serve as thinly veiled advertisements for the hosting services that offer the highest affiliate commissions, rather than providing the reader with genuinely useful, unbiased information.

The selection of companies featured in these listicles often seems arbitrary, more tied to the potential for affiliate revenue than any objective assessment of quality or value. This leads to a landscape where readers are directed towards the highest bidder, rather than the best service to suit their unique needs.

Hostxnow and Mechanicweb are the fastest hosts as far as I can tell.  I used the research from WebWhim  and actually tested these.  I moved all my sites over. Very few SEOs have the tech knowledge to migrate sites and set up caching properly.  They may be happy with their current hosts and genuinely recommend them but they would be doing a reader the disservice by not putting the 2 companies mentioned above as the best 2 webhosts.  Ryzen 9 5900X, plus Litespeed Enterprise and Litespeed Cache is a combo that's very hard to beat.  

Law asserts that the solution to this problem lies in the hands of generative AI. The power of AI lies in its ability to tailor responses to individual reader's unique needs and circumstances, creating a more personalized and useful output than a static listicle ever could. A user could input their specific requirements into a conversational AI model, and it could generate a list of options that are genuinely suited to their needs, rather than a pre-defined list driven by affiliate commissions​1​.

This could revolutionize the way we consume content online. Imagine a future where you're not presented with a list of the “Top 20 Web Hosting Services,” but instead, you're given a personalised list of recommendations based on your specific needs – your budget, your technical requirements, your preferred customer service level, and more.

However, it's important to note that just as with any tool, the effectiveness of AI in producing high-quality content depends heavily on the care, expertise, and effort put into its creation and implementation. It's not merely about replacing one form of content with another, but about elevating the standards of content that we create and consume.

The potential death of the listicle at the hands of generative AI, as predicted by Ryan Law, may not be a cause for lament but an opportunity for content marketers to shift their focus. It's a call to invest energy in creating problem-solving content that requires critical analysis, firsthand experience, judgment, and taste… E-EAT.  It's a call to add genuine value to the reader's journey, not just to guide them along a path paved by affiliate commissions or putting yourself at the top of a list.

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