‘Clickbait’ headlines won’t help you in the long run

We’ve all been there. You’re scrolling down a page, and there it is: a cryptic headline that promises to reveal something shocking, life-saving or unbelievable … all you have to do is click.

Sadly, the content behind the link is usually as disappointing as the headline was mysterious.

As marketers, we know that measurable results are key to any strategy, so anything that drives clicks – and potential advertising revenue – is very tempting. But there is a big difference between a good headline and “clickbait.”

A good headline incites a click with accurate, relevant information that attracts readers to engaging content. “Clickbait,” however, refers to any sensationalized or mysterious headline that misleads or provides irrelevant content for the sake of driving traffic to a website. If you don’t have the content to support what your headline is selling, getting a lot of clicks won’t matter in the long run.

3 ways clickbait will kill your numbers:

  1. High bounce rates. Exciting, click-worthy headlines are great for driving traffic, but if they’re misleading or the content doesn’t live up to visitors’ expectations, they’re not going to stick around. High bounce rates are a surefire way to get flagged by search engines as untrustworthy.
  2. Low engagement. Page-rank algorithms are increasingly favoring websites with more than just high time-on-site. Even if a clickbait headline is enough to get a visitor to read the content, the page needs links and shares to prove the quality of the content.
  3. Bad reputation. Sensational headlines are bound to get clicks at first, but every misleading link is a chance to make a bad impression. Eventually, potential visitors will just ignore anything they think will disappoint.

In the age when relevant content is king, marketers have to make sure that the right audience is visiting their sites and engaging with their content. If you feel like you’re in a rut, try refreshing your approach to content marketing or spicing up your messaging. Just don’t fall victim to headlines that overpromise and content that underdelivers.

Have you seen clickbait from any surprising sources? Let us know in the comments below.

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