“Clickbait” is something of a dirty word in the blogosphere, involving a nefarious intention to deceive readers into clicking on a link and being submitted to an article that does not deliver its tantalizing title.
While it’s true that clickbait titles are marketing poison in many – if not most – cases, they can be a huge asset in the right hands.
If you can crack the clickbait code, you will have another marketing tool at your disposal to drive more traffic to your site, increase pageviews, and build brand awareness. Just make sure to use this information for good.
What makes a title bait?
Clickbait titles generally refer to one of two types of titles:
- Sensationalist headlines that entice readers with exaggerated proclamations.
- Bait and switch articles that promise one thing but deliver something else entirely in actual content.
A quick trip to Buzzfeed should provide all the examples you need for clickbait articles to reference. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are also often inundated with headlines that could be generously described as sensational.
Clickbait is not limited to the editorial world either. YouTube is full of clickbait content and misleading titles, much to the chagrin of its users.
Good versus bad bait
What separates the “wrong” variety of clickbaits from the more innocuous headlines? The types of headlines that annoy readers and spark accusations of « fake news » usually meet one of these criteria:
- The article even fails to deliver on the title’s promise, offering little to no value.
- The blog is a thinly concealed advertisement masquerading as an unbiased article.
- The content is okay (maybe even good), but it’s buried in an avalanche of on-screen ads.
- The article is a complete bait and switch, providing none of the information referenced in the title.
- The information is there, but it is presented in a way that sacrifices user experience for other metrics (for example, using slideshows to generate more pageviews when the content could have been placed on a single page). dedicated).
Whether you’re talking about « bad » or « good » bait, the goal is about the same: attracting readers with a catchy headline, often with an angle that sounds too good to be true.
Take the example of this bait: « 12 Cooking Tips That Will Turn Any Home Cook Into A Professional Chef. » This title will appeal to almost anyone looking for ways to improve their cooking skills. His noble and suspicious promises push him to the limit in clickbait territory.
Are there really a dozen simple changes you can make to turn your homemade meals into restaurant-quality dishes? Almost certainly not. But even though the title hyperbolizes a bit, if the tips in the article help you become a better home cook, does it really matter? Readers won’t be terribly upset with a clickbait headline if they are still getting something valuable from the content itself.
On the flip side, if the article is all about links to 12 kitchen gadget product pages – all conveniently sharing the same manufacturer – then they’ll likely feel like they’ve been duped by a misleading title.
The truth is, as long as people dump on the bait, these types of headlines are very effective in attracting readers. The difference between a good and a bad clickbait comes down to execution. Does your article, infographic, video, or other piece of content actually deliver what its title promises? Or is it just a bait and switch that will leave people frustrated and wondering why they wasted their time?
Why do Clickbait titles work so well?
They might be the bane of the internet, but clickbait titles continue to thrive in virtually every corner of cyberspace because they get clicks. If people just stopped clicking on it, clickbaity titles would be gone forever.
Clickbait feeds on a basic psychology and behavior that is built into every person. As Psychology Today explained, people have a survival instinct to search for information to learn more about their environment and social environments. Research has suggested that there is a link (or at least a correlation) between the uptake of new knowledge and the body’s dopamine flow. Basically, it feels good to learn something new. Only the offer alone can cause a biological reaction, hence the appeal of clickbait.
Clickbait headlines often take advantage of this thirst for knowledge – even if it’s such a crazy topic as celebrity gossip – by making headlines in a way that piques our curiosity and makes us feel like we’re going to miss it. if we don’t click. . FOMO is real, folks.
Suppose you came across a headline that read, « You Won’t Believe These 10 Marketing Tips That Will Triple Your Income! » You would probably treat him with a little skepticism. But at the same time, you might be thinking, « What have I got to lose by taking a look? » After all, there might be some useful tips that you hadn’t considered, and you wouldn’t want to pass up an opportunity to give your marketing strategy an extra edge.
So don’t worry the next time you click on a bait title. Blame thousands of years of human evolution.
Appreciate the good side of clickbait
Not all Clickbait titles are bad. If you learn the right lessons, your content creators can create headlines that are more likely to resonate with your target audience and provide better search engine optimization (SEO) and engagement metrics.
In fact, clickbait tactics actually share a lot in common with the latest headline writing best practices:
- They offer value to the reader (even if they don’t always keep that promise).
- They are short, punchy and easy to understand.
- They are designed to attract specific audiences and pique their interest.
- They use « powerful words » to evoke an emotional response in the reader.
Researchers who analyzed the sentiment, polarization and popularity of newspaper headlines found that article titles with overly positive or negative connotations attracted more readers than more conservative descriptions. In other words, it is not profitable to play it safe when it comes to writing headlines.
Don’t be afraid to be more demonstrative and even a little weird with your blog titles. Find that middle ground between hyperbolic and tempting, tapping into your audience’s curiosity and encouraging them to click.
It starts with understanding who your readers are and what they want to know. What do they struggle with the most? How can you help resolve these issues? Put that message in a catchy headline that offers clear and meaningful value to your target audience.
How to make Clickbait work for your digital marketing strategy
Remember to incorporate SEO best practices when writing headlines (e.g. including a targeted keyword in the headline) so that your article ranks higher in search results and stands out among users on search engine results pages (SERPs).
List formats generally work well for sensational headlines because they quantify the value of the content to a certain extent (you don’t just get marketing advice; you get ten marketing tips!) and they’re easy to scan. For this reason, list-based articles are great additions to any content marketing strategy aimed at boosting organic traffic, pageviews, and brand awareness metrics.
The key to using Clickbait effectively is making sure you have the right content to back it up. Sensational headlines that don’t deliver the goods will only turn readers away and increase your site’s bounce rate. Make sure you take the time to create a blog post that actually delivers the information and value that its catchy title promises. Really take a look at what your headline has to offer, and don’t publish this article until it delivers exactly what readers expect.
Does clickbait content deserve its bad reputation? Absolutely. The internet is teeming with misleading headlines, blatant advertisements and meaningless content. You need almost a sixth sense to analyze quality content from worthless silliness that just happens to have an engaging title.
Clickbait, however, uses some perfectly healthy underlying concepts. Rather than bow your nose at the idea of taking inspiration from clickbait tactics, recognize some of the basic truths about human behavior that this type of content thrives on. People want to sensational titles, and if you can’t entice them with catchy titles that inspire curiosity, rest assured there is another brand that will.
Finding that balance between wow and clickbait might seem tricky, but if you can continue to deliver great content and real value to your audience, you will never risk falling into the ‘fake news’ trap.
Good luck and remember: if you’re going to clickbait this holiday season, do it responsibly.