Why You Need To Say Goodbye To Click-Bait Headlines

Stop linkbaiting

The online world is a crowded place; with over 8 billion blogs out there (and increasing each day), it’s a blog eat blog world and writers are always looking for a competitive edge to get their content seen and shared.

For those of us experienced in digital marketing, its well known that the best way to do so is to create compelling content which deserves to be shared – after all, content is king. Good content, a unique selling point and finding a niche, along with a decent outreach plan, is the fastest way to get big in the online world. The best blogs out there have been around for a few years, constantly pumping out high quality content and it is their consistency and quality which has seen them rise to the top. Unfortunately, many new entrants to the industry want to replicate their success without putting in the legwork.

This is where link-baiting started.

Click bait headlines are provocative – they appeal to the curiosity in humans and make it near impossible to resist clicking on that link. Unfortunately more often than not the content that follows is either completely unrelated to the title, or such a poor follow up that readers are left contemplating why they have lost a valuable 60 seconds of their time.

Examples of click-bait headlines include, but are in no way limited to, the following:

 

  • … You’ll never believe what happened next
  • Here’s what happened when…
  • … And this happened!
  • Are you making these grave mistakes in…?
  • 10 things you need to be doing NOW
  • 8 warning signs that…
  • The shocking truth about…
  • This will blow your mind
  • The dirty secrets of…

 

The list is indefinite.

The appeal behind link baiting is obvious. It can drive more traffic and social shares; but only at first. It’s a poor man’s attempt at gaining an audience but without good content to keep them there, they will soon go off to somewhere who provides what they really want; whether that’s entertainment, information, or something else entirely.

As more and more people turn to using click bait headlines, readers are getting increasingly more frustrated by being manipulated by these headlines. They are unlikely to stay around to read an entire article if the content is lacking, and they are also unlikely to take any calls to action such as subscribing or clicking on to deeper pages.

Paul Boag experimented with click-bait headlines on his blog Boag World and found:

 

The first thing I can confirm is that on my site at least, linkbait headlines did cause a bump in traffic. Posts were shared more, and more people clicked through to view my posts. In short, linkbait worked as advertised, at least initially.

However, the more I used linkbait titles the less impact they had. Like the boy who cried wolf, my readers stopped believing my headlines over time. They grew numb to the sensationalist titles.

If I allowed a gap between linkbait titles, I noticed that I could cause a spike of traffic again. But the more I used linkbait the less effective it became.

So if click-baiting doesn’t work, what should you actually be doing?

 

  • Focus on creating good content. Click-baiting is a bit like going on a reality show. You’ll get your five minutes of fame but you’re never going to get up there with Beyonce.
  • Gain a positive reputation. This requires a bit of time and effort on your part but it is well worth it. Establish yourself as an industry expert by posting informative content, including content which is evergreen and reactive content to trending topics. Build relationships up with industry leaders by commenting on their blogs and engaging with them on social media, and interactive with your audience to establish relationships with your readers.
  • Identify your USP. What do you offer to your readers that other blogs don’t? Is it key insights or expertise? Perhaps you have a wealth of contacts who you can regularly bring on for panel posts.

And last but not least, use headlines that accurately portray the content, while leaving the reader wanting to know more. Think “How to improve your content” rather than “506 unbelievable easy ways to improve your content”.

 

about the author: "India has worked in digital for just under two years and is passionate about everything content."
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