The Science Behind Clickbait Titles (and How to Use Them Responsibly)
Discover what is the science behind clickbait titles and how to use them responsibly and in a way that benefit all sides.
“Clickbait” is something of a dirty word in the blogosphere, implying some nefarious intent to trick readers into clicking on a link and being subjected to an article that doesn’t deliver on its tantalizing title.
While it’s true that clickbait titles are marketing poison in many — if not most — cases, they can be a major asset in the right hands.
If you can crack the clickbait code, you’ll have another marketing tool at your disposal to drive more traffic to your site, increase page views and build brand awareness. Just be sure you’re using this info for good.
What Makes a Headline Clickbait?
Clickbait titles typically refer to one of two types of headlines:
1) Sensationalized titles that draw in readers with over-the-top proclamations.
2) Bait-and-switch items that promise one thing but deliver something else entirely in the actual content.
A quick trip over to Buzzfeed should provide all the examples you need of 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 isn’t confined to the editorial world, either. YouTube is filled with clickbait content and misleading headlines, much to its users’ chagrin.
Good Clickbate vs. Bad Clickbait
What separates the “bad” variety of clickbait from the more innocuous headlines? The types of titles that get on readers’ nerves and elicit accusations of “fake news” usually fit one of these criteria:
The article fails to even come close to delivering on the headline’s promise, delivering little to no value.
The blog is a barely concealed ad masquerading as an unbiased article.
The content is OK (maybe even good), but it’s buried in an avalanche of on-screen advertisements.