Clickbait. Even if you're not sure what it is, you've seen it before. Those eye-catching headlines that leave you wanting more information, forcing you to click the link before you die of curiousity—that's clickbait.
"You'll never believe what this star does to stay young!" "This weight loss method sounds crazy, but what happens next changes EVERYTHING!" Yes, these examples of clickbait are kind of silly, but it's a wildly effective, if kind of slimy, way to generate clicks.
Clickbait Under Fire
Facebook has long been home to clickbait, but now Facebook is serving the eviction notice. Recently, Facebook's war on clickbait has escalated; it's now determined to demote any article that appears in the News Feed that contains phrases that are indicative of clickbait.
What does that mean for marketers? Well, if you're not using clickbait tactics, nothing. Your content should be receiving the same amount of attention that it's always received. But if you're engaging in clickbait-style headlines, you could be in trouble.
I clicked. Was not stunned.
Black Hat vs. White Hat
Click thru isn't everything; you need to give users what they want, not trick them into clicking on your link. It's an old story—marketers think they've outwitted the SEO gods through black hat methods, such as buying links, keyword stuffing, and now clickbait. The SEO gods aren't so easily outsmarted. They'll find a way to smite those clever peasants.
It just pays to use above-board business practices. Google, Bing, and Facebook are serving the users, and the users have spoken: THEY HATE CLICKBAIT.
Do's and Dont's
So how do you do it? How do you write a headline that will make people want to click on your link without resorting to clickbait tactics? We're here with your handy tips for a better headline.
Do tease the story. You don't want to give away the whole story within the confines of the headline, but don't leave out vital information in hopes of generating clicks.
Do focus on the benefits of your story. You can encourage users to click on a link without tricking them into it. Something like "5 Ways to Effectively Use Inbound Marketing" is very different than "You Won't BELIEVE What Happened When This Company Tried THIS!" See the difference?
Do optimize your headline for SEO. You're looking for traffic; clickbait isn't the way to get it. You're not going to increase your traffic through organic search with a clickbait headline. Long-tail keywords are the key to boost your site's SEO.
Do keep it short. Keep your headline simple enough for anyone to understand—avoid using industry-only jargon that will keep the folks who aren't in your industry from clicking on your link.
Do establish rapport. Your headline is the invitation for people to click and read your content. A clever, funny headline or a thought-provoking headline gets your audience's attention, making them want to learn more about what you have to say.
No tricks here, just good content that still makes me curious to click.
Don't try to trick your readers into clicking your link. C'mon, guys. You're better than that, and so is your content. Don't disrespect your readers by manipulating them.
Don't hide important information. Hiding key information that force uses to click, and then be disappointed, is the esssence of clickbait. You're only going to drive readers away.
Don't forget that you're writing more than a headline. If you've written a great headline, but not-so-great content, you've failed. Setting them up for something great and failing to deliver is just as tricky as clickbait.
Don't embrace our yellow journalism past. Clickbait isn't new; the newsies that worked on the corners screaming the day's thrilling headlines were basically clickbait in human form. Just because it's part of our history doesn't mean that we should allow it to repeat itself.
Have you seen any ridiculous examples of clickbait lately? Tell us about it in the comments below.