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What is clickbait?

We’ve all seen headlines like this while surfing the web:

  • Lose weight instantly with this weird old trick
  • You’ll never believe…
  • What happens next is outrageous
  • This woman is 52, but looks 25
  • What she looks like now will shock you.

Articles like these are known as clickbait.

Clickbait uses the same technique as tabloid sensationalism. It uses a striking headline, designed to intrigue you and entice you to click.

If you’ve ever clicked on a headline like this, you’ll know that the stories rarely live up to what their headlines promise and can be vastly misrepresented.

Articles can often be several pages long, compelling you to click until you find the content you were hoping for. And each page is plastered with advertising, that looks like part of the article and is deliberately designed to mislead you.

The effects of clickbait.

Clickbait leaves us feeling disappointed, unfulfilled and foolish for ever believing the hype.

We may also find our experience on the site is blighted by pop-ups and crashes.

Nevertheless, many of us still click.

The purpose of clickbait.

The purpose of clickbait is to make money. It achieves this by getting as many page views as possible.

A high number of page views and/or unique visitors is a measure of the site’s success — and, most importantly, its worth to advertisers.

Advertisers like to use sites with high volumes of traffic, because more people get to see their ads.

Websites make more money when they get more traffic, because they bill the advertisers according to the number of page views they get.

How clickbait is harmful.

If you are considering using clickbait as a strategy to increase your page views or email open rates, you may want to think again.

Clickbait is lazy.

It takes virtually no effort to boost substandard content with a clickbait headline. But what does it say about you? And what does it say about how you treat your readers?

Clickbait has a bad reputation.

Clickbait has become synonymous with poor quality, and sometimes spammy, content. These are not things you should want your brand to be associated with.

Clickbait abuses and loses trust.

Savvy readers are getting wise to clickbait. Where once they were curious, they are now becoming wary and sceptical. Social sharing of clickbait articles has diminished. Losing the trust and respect of your target audience won’t do you any favours.

What should we do instead?

Never compromise your brand.

You’ve spent too long building your brand and its reputation to ruin it for the sake of a few clicks.

Surprise, enlighten and engage your audience.

Just make sure you don’t disappoint them or make them feel you’ve wasted their time.

Invest in quality content.

Show you respect your audience by providing them with consistently meaningful and valuable content. This will build trust and appreciation — and encourage social sharing.

Deliver what you promise.

Start by using a headline that accurately describes what your content is about. 

I like to write the headline first, so I always know exactly what I’m working towards.

Follow up by making sure your content fits the headline.

For example, if you start out with a question make sure you answer it. If you are giving a list of 10 tips, make sure you provide the full number and ensure each tip is useful and different from the others.

Do you need some help to create quality content?

I’m Jenny Lucas, an experienced content writer with plenty of good marketing ideas that don’t involve using clickbait.

To find out more, please visit my content writing page