Internet Marketing January 5th, 2015
Over the past year, clickbait headlines have become more and more frequent. From generating interest about which two celebrities were spotted kissing, to making you wonder why the latest viral video is, well, viral, clickbait headlines make even the most mundane articles seem attractive.
But what are clickbait headlines really doing for your SEO and overall brand image? Sure they’re getting views to your one particular article, but are a few extra eyes on your page worth risking your reputation for?
If you don’t know what a clickbait headline is, it’s essentially a blog or article title that manipulates the reader into clicking to read or see more. Upworthy has perfected the trend, creating nearly every article with headlines that end in, “You’ll never guess what happens next.”
The problem is, what happens next is never as exciting as the reader expecting it to be, losing both interest and trust from your audience.
One of the biggest reasons clickbait headlines seem so attractive to Internet marketers is because of their relatively high success rate at gaining attention. People have a natural curiosity, and that’s often amplified online, but the views you’re getting through clickbait do nothing for your long-term success.
In fact, clickbait actually hurts your SEO.
Any SEO can tell you that the title of your article is important to the overall health of your post. From including searchable keywords to the possibility of showing up as an exact match on search inquiries, your title does more for your post than simply give readers a preview of the article.
Having a clickbait headline takes away all that juice you could have been sending to your article. It tells Google nothing about what you’re writing, and more importantly, it misleads your audience. It turns you into an untrustworthy source, which is going to prevent those new eyes on your page from becoming return readers.
Jake Beckman, the man behind the Twitter page @SavedYouAClick, started a trend that illustrates just how annoyed people are getting with clickbait.
Beckman takes a wealth of clickbait headlines and gives away the punch line, preventing the reader from both disappointment and wasted time in the process.
In a story from December 2015, the popular gossip site Gawker posted an article titled, “Guess how many pizzas Jennifer Lawrence ordered.” While the reason why that’s worthy enough to be a story is questionable on it’s own, it’s the perfect example of why clickbait articles are so unsatisfactory. Reading that title, you’d expect the answer to be a shockingly large one, and that natural curiosity mentioned before provokes us to click the story and find out.
Beckman gave away the answer in a @SavedYouAClick spoiler, which turned out to be, “Multiple pizzas,” meaning that a question that didn’t need to be asked in the first place had an answer that wasn’t pleasing in any way. Luckily Beckman was there to save time for his 180, 000+ followers by posting the two-word answer.
“Multiple pizzas” RT @Gawker: Guess how much pizza Jennifer Lawrence ordered
— Saved You A Click (@SavedYouAClick) December 17, 2014
Other Twitter accounts have shown up with similar themes, much like @HoffPoSpoilers’s account which had nearly 40, 000 followers as of January 2015. Unlike @SavedYouAClick, this account debunks only clickbait generated by the Huffington Post.
Facebook has even gone as far as announcing measures to stop clickbait, saying that they’ll be offering options to prevent clickbait headlines from showing up in your feed.
But other than annoying your readers, what does clickbait do to your site? A click is a click, right?
Well, this is where the grey area is found. And it’s a very dark grey area.
There’s a big difference between clicks and quality clicks. When the traffic coming into your website is simply there to curb the reader’s own curiosity for a single question, they’re going to get their answer and leave. This will affect your bounce rate in a negative way and do nothing to further your brand or your following.
It also sets up your reader for frustration. When a title reads, “A mom opened her Christmas present early. What happened next blew my mind,” and what happens is anything less than mind blowing, the reader is going to be annoyed they wasted their time and will likely avoid going to your site in the future.
Whether you’re publishing blogs or trying to create the next viral video, a trusting audience is important to your company’s online health. Raising the bar on an article by giving it an intriguing title will only leave your audience feeling unfulfilled after they realize that your work isn’t delivering on said title.
When it comes to titles, you should be targeting a relevant audience through relevant and useful headlines. Unlike clickbait, it will gain a readership that will generate quality readers, follwers, and most importantly, leads.