You Won’t Believe What I Think of Click-Baiters Posing as Inbound Marketers

William Gislason
Posted by William Gislason on October 21, 2014

For me, the hardest part of writing a great blog is creating a great headline. I want to choose something interesting and attention-grabbing while, at the same time, accurately representing the content of the blog. Ideally, the blog topic is interesting enough that any accurate headline will bring traffic. But if your blog post does turn out to be weak, don't expect a flashy headline to save it. That's just click-baiting.

Click-bait [noun] - pronounced “klik-beyt” - A link that attempts to draw visitors to a website by using curiosity inducing headlines to capitalize on page visits. A phrase typically used for a link one regrets clicking. 
Synonyms - waste of time, misleading headline, spam

If you are producing content designed to draw traffic to your site through any means necessary – you’re missing the point.

Obviously, we want to attract potential customers to our sites. We produce content for these visitors to learn from. We think about SEO so our prospects can find us. We write interesting headlines that give new visitors a taste of what they can learn from our site. We utilize technology to analyze what is working for our visitors and what isn’t. We create the optimal experience for visitors to learn about our services and how we can help them. We respect and work with our prospects through every stage of the buyer’s journey then, after a sale, we continue to offer them the best service we possibly can.

You know that by helping your prospects in their search, you inevitably create the relationships that lead to business opportunities.

We aren’t trying to trick our visitors. We aren’t trying to outsmart them. We don’t want to use them. Modern marketers don’t need to bait their prospects. If you are producing the right content, they’ll come to you.

Why Click-Bait Does Not Work for Inbound Marketers

If my arguments involving respect for the customer and the virtues of honesty are not persuasive enough, hopefully this is: prospects brought in through click-bait do not want to work with you.

Maybe your blog gets 500 views compared to the normal 30. That’s awesome – congrats. But if you do the research and create a blog post that fully answers one of your target persona’s questions and if even one of your targets finds it, appreciates it, and decides to reach out to your company – that one view will be worth way more to your company than the 500 meaningless views from a misleading headline.

click-bait-example-facebookAnd now, the sites that help to distribute your content are pushing back against click-baiting. In an effort to reduce click-bait in your news feed, Facebook has started to use a measure of the amount of time users spend on a linked page to reprioritize which links are shown. This means if one of your friends clicks on a link then returns to Facebook in less than 6 seconds, this link will be less likely to be shown in your News Feed.

There are also SEO implications. Though we can't be sure of the mechanics of Google’s search algorithm, we know Google does measure “dwell time,” “time on page,” and “bounce rate” and likely uses them to create search results. These three measurements work together to show level of engagement and whether the user found what they were looking on the page. If the users that Google sends to your blog return to Google after realizing your content was not what they were searching for, you will be penalized in the search rankings.

In the end, enticing someone to visit your page is one thing, while writing quality articles that answer your prospect's questions is another. Which one do you think leads to a sale?

How to Create an Interesting, Accurate Blog Headline

The most important part of creating a great blog headline is having a great blog. A quality headline will reflect a quality blog. But after you write a great blog, how can you adequately represent it in a short attractive headline?

1. Identify the focus of your blog

What are your main points of your blog? How do these points come together to create the message of your blog? What is the impact you want your blog to have on your readers?

Example: This blog is explains the drawbacks of inaccurate headlines designed to increase traffic. These headlines do not respect the customer. They hurt your search engine results. They do not attract the right traffic and they will not lead to sales.

2. Summarize your focus to one sentence

Cram the main points of your blog into one sentence along with the overall message. This sentence will be a run-on – it’s ok. This is your thesis.

Because “click-bait” headlines are dishonest, disrespectful, hurt search results, and do not attract the right visitors to website they have no inbound marketing value.

3. Ask yourself: is this blog post a how-to or list?

Readers often prefer these easy-to-skim formats, so identify that in the title.

“15 Ways to Avoid Click-Bait Headlines” or “How to Create an Interesting Blog Headline.”

4. Identify what makes your blog unique

If your blog is on a trending topic in your industry be sure to show what makes your blog different from all the other options. This is a great time to include keywords for your target audience.

“How I Use Click-Bait for Good,” “A Guide for Inbound Marketers to Avoid Click-Bait.”

5. Try to make it clever

Finally, if your headline feels dull, try to make it clever. Play on an inside joke in your industry. Use puns or silly word choice to grab attention. If your headline is still too boring that may be an indication that your blog is too boring.

“You Won’t Believe What I Think of Click-Baiters Posing as Inbound Marketers”

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