‘Clickbait’ gets a lot of bad rap, and sometimes, it’s for good reason. If you click on something and find yourself on a slow-loading page, rammed with ads and content completely unrelated to what you expected, then you’re going to be pretty annoyed.
However, clickbait has been prevalent for centuries, just in different forms. From the summary at the back of a book, to the Oliver Twist look-a-like kid shouting ‘extra, extra read all about it!’ – these are all ways to get you to engage with the author’s content.
There’s no problem at all with readers being lured into clicking on your article but only if they’re rewarded for their curiosity with good quality, engaging content.
But how do you get them to click? Below, I’ve listed the most common ‘clickbait’ techniques, with the ones I think you should be using and ones you should definitely steer clear of!
1. Lists posts
Yep, we know, we’re guilty! But lists are a great way of gaining visitors to your content.
The user knows the article or video is going to be in easily digestible, bite-sized pieces and that’s always more appealing than big chunks of text. It’s also more likely to be actionable content, with facts instead of opinion pieces.
I can’t believe I have to say this. But please don’t use women in bikinis unless your article/content is directly related to bikinis! The amount of times I see articles that have nothing to do with the female anatomy, using a picture of a woman dressed in barely anything is scary. And it’s not just prevalent in content marketing but advertising in general.
Don’t get me wrong, for some companies it may work where that kind of thing is part of your brand – just look at ads for gambling and gaming, but for most it just makes you look desperate and kind of confused about what you’re selling. Plus, you’re potentially putting off 50% of your market.
3. Being mean/horrible/bitchy
I know it sounds cheesy but I treat people how I like to be treated, so causing unnecessary hurt or anger would be something I’d certainly steer clear of.
I’ve seen articles with headlines such as ‘Celebrities with ugly partners’ and ‘Stars who have piled on the baby weight.’ Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these ‘articles’ – if you can call them that – gain a lot of traffic, but it’s not something I’m into. We’re all human, including celebrities, and I would hate to think I’d hurt someone purposefully over something I’d written.
4. Sarcastic headline
16 reasons you shouldn’t wear sunscreen, 12 reasons not to visit New York, four reasons you should put a fork in the plug socket.
This particular one is a real Buzzfeed favourite and although a little annoying at first, it does have that punch to the stomach value.
For example, what’s a more powerful message…
Neglecting to wear suncream over long periods of time could cause skin cancer
Don’t bother wearing suncream, who cares about skin cancer anyways!
The second one certainly has the shock factor.
I’m not a big fan of this method but I do see its benefits. I’d advise to use with caution.
5. We like number 5 the best!
Which one do you like the best
Yep, we’ve gone and done it again in the article headline! By stating which one out of your list is your preference/the most shocking/made you laugh etc. your intriguing web users. They want to know what number five is and they want to see if they agree.
Overall, it’s not the most advanced strategy but it does work!
Sometimes, you don’t want to learn anything or digest a load of information. You just want to laugh and be entertained – hence the sheer popularity of cat videos.
So inject some humour into your headlines (if applicable to your brand, if you’re a funeral director maybe not – although it would make me laugh!)
7. Controversial headline
This can be tricky.
Firstly, I see a lot of people use a controversial headline to lure people in, and then backtrack the headline in their article.
Someone did this recently using the headline ‘SEO is dead.’ I clicked on it and the guy went through all the benefits of SEO. What he actually meant was some methods of SEO have been phased out – but of course, that’s not as exciting as ‘SEO is dead.’
I think controversy is good, if you truly believe in your opinion and you have stats and facts to back yourself up. Healthy debate is what keeps us up-to-date. However, using controversy to gain links should be avoided, because essentially, you’re just going to annoy people. See example above!
Again, like the boobs, I’m not really sure why I have to say this but some people think that being purposefully stupid will attract web hits. And it will, but from people who want to tell you that you’re an idiot.
Please don’t resort to stupidity to gain links, instead be an expert on your chosen topic and earn respect for your knowledge.
9. What happens next will make you cry…
This is actually one of my pet peeves! But I understand why they work so well.
You can usually spot these on Facebook; it’ll link to a video featuring puppies and sad music and annoyingly, you may start to get a tear to your eye!
I hate them because I don’t like feeling manipulated but some people do enjoy them and overall, they seem to receive positive comments. I suppose this one is down to preference!