The perils of clickbait

Clickbaitnoun: clickbait
Online content of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page. An eye-catching link on a website that encourages people to read on. Often paid for by the advertiser. Paid clickbait generates income based on the number of clicks.

Producing shareable content is one thing. But is creating a scandalised headline to drive traffic to your website a viable way of attracting prospects to your business?

There’s nothing new about clickbait. Commentators may declare that the pervasiveness of clickbait is a result of our short attention spans in today’s instantly disposable internet age.

In reality, lurid banners of this sort have been enticing readers for centuries. Sensationalised headlines were the stock-in-trade for the gossip columns and penny dreadfuls of the nineteenth century.

Cracking down on clickbait

The problem is that clickbait is much harder to avoid nowadays, despite the efforts of certain social network sites to try and curtail its use.

In 2014, Facebook announced its intention to “weed out stories that people frequently tell us are spammy.” In an update to the social network, Facebook tweaked its News Feed algorithm to reduce clickbait headlines. It now takes into consideration how quickly a user returns to the site after clicking on the link.

Google’s algorithm also looks at the bounce rate and how long is spent browsing a site. You may be enticing heavy traffic, but if visitors are clicking away in seconds, this is not going to help your rankings.

Target your campaigns

As a business do you really want to drive large volumes of indiscriminate traffic to your website? Unsurprisingly, it’s proved to be more profitable to implement a targeted campaign based on genuine visitor interest.

Share content that’s specific to your industry and give valuable information to the person who’s clicked on your link. And as for the headline – make it relevant to the landing page, so your visitors know what they’re going to get when they click through.

That way they’re more likely to stick around to read the content.