Clickbait Headlines Won’t Disappear, Because You’ll Never…

by Jonathan Gebauer (@jogebauer)

Do you really believe that Facebook’s recent announcement that they will reduce the rank of the famous clickbait headlines will make clickbait disappear? Well, maybe you should take a deep breath, and start thinking.


Food for thought #1 – Clickbait will adapt

What are clickbait headlines? They are a way of making you click on a headline.

Those clickbait sites you all pretend to despise (while clicking on them in secret AND secretly enjoying what you get) will always use the headlines that work best for them. Do you really believe that just because Facebook downrates one type of headline they won’t find a way to write headlines that make you click?Clickbait Headlines won't dissappear

Like any other marketing pro out there, the editors at those sites work on constantly improving their headlines and adapt to changes in the landscape. Just a couple of month back, they used headlines ending with “… and you’ll never guess what happens next” in almost 50% of their headlines. If you visit Upworthy today – that is not being used anymore. That is because they adapted to the fact that these were overused and simply don’t work anymore.

They are going to adapt to the landscape again. Just as fast. Because that is what they are good at.

Food for thought #2 – We all want to see clickbait

How much time do you spend on the web, daily? How much time do you spend on the web trying to find some entertainment? Relaxation? Or simply a good laugh to take the edge of your day?

Most web surfers today at least sometimes want that.

Bloggers should improve their headlinesWhen Facebook says that people want to see descriptive headlines that allow them to know what the actual content will be about, that is only half of the truth. We all want some surprises in our daily routine. Especially when they are fun.

Clickbait does provide this. Otherwise Upworthy, Buzzfeed or Distractify would not have as many Fans on Facebook. The notion that they don’t provide “quality content” is not correct if you assume that quality content means that people get what they want from these.

You know exactly what you are getting into when you are clicking on a post by Buzzfeed or Upworthy on Facebook. Stop complaining about “being tricked by the headline” – it says where it is coming from right below it. While it seems to be a sport now to flame about these sites, there is no denying that these sites built a lot of trust with their audience – or why did you become a fan of the site? Or at least, so many of your friends did? No one forced you – or them.

Half of their success is having built a brand and having built trust.


Food for thought #3 – We are all doing it, just not as good

I am pretty sure that every single blogger on this planet should learn how to improve their headlines. In my opinion, a good headline does two things:

  • Catch your desired audiences’ interest
  • Don’t give away too much so the readers still find something new in the post

This is exactly what clickbait sites have perfected. Giving a general idea for the topic, but not giving away the content.

Every marketer on the planet does the same – otherwise, he is not a marketer.

As said in the beginning: Clickbait is an optimization strategy, not a crime that should be punished. It’s not “cheating” and it will always exist. I do it. Everybody else does it, too.

So what…

This article was proofread and edited by myself with the help of Grammarly. If you are blogging in English and cannot afford a professional editor, Try Grammarly Now! It rocks.

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  • jonahblock

    and making cigerates addtive is also a good stragety if you sell cigerates. Clickbait should absolutly be punshed, you will love reason 14 as to why

  • Nelly Simons

    Clickbait is acceptable when it’s truthful. The real problem which is punishment worthy is when the headline has nothing to do with the content. It’s infuriating and I’ve stopped following many on social media, and cancelled many email subscriptions because I no longer trust them. I now just assume that their headline is BS, so why reward their business with clicks?

    • Krunoslav Stifter

      Exactly. Getting attention in the noisy world by using a well crafted headline is not a problem and its perfectly fine. Problem is when on the other end you get shitty or irrelevant content. Problem between the honest and dishonest blogger is in the intent of the click bait and does the actual content match the headline.

  • Hayes

    I refute the idea that ‘the rest of us are doing it, just not as good (well)’. If the likes of Buzzfeed, Distractify and Upworthy get millions of clicks it’s because they have millions of followers. Most bloggers will never get those kinds of numbers because they just don’t blog about such inane subjects and they don’t have millions of followers. Clickbait is just a term given to a headline that makes you want to click it (which, actually, is the goal of any headline). We’ve come to use this phrase to mean low grade bs. Whether the likes of Buzzfeed specialise in clickbait, well I think you’re just going to be arguing over semantics. To take a headline from Buzzfeed right now – 66 thoughts about sex every women has had – would that be appropriate/relevant on your blog? Probably not. And even if you did post it, would it get as many clicks as if it was posted on Buzzfeed? Of course not.

  • Paddy

    I used a click bait article title once, you won’t believe what happened next…