According to the Urban Dictionary, the term “clickbait” is more than just a headline. It describes content that is misleading in nature, designed only for generating online advertising revenue. The people who use clickbait often try to pique your curiosity in a way that causes you to click on and read the article in question, which is then surrounded by and interrupted by numerous ads.
You can recognize clickbait by their misleading headlines. They might say something like: “This article will outrage you, especially number 3.” Usually, the headline promises something, or says that something that is truly outrageous and even offensive will appear when you click. The sad fact is, usually there is nothing special about the article, and the article often will say the opposite of what you thought it would say.
Often the headlines are something that will get your blood boiling and affect your emotions in a negative way. Studies show that people tend to click on negative headlines more than positive. So, even if the article inside is positive, the headline will be negative to get you to click. It’s all about getting people to look and causing you to feel an emotion.
Most people are curious by nature. We like to learn what we can about our environment or any niche that we’re involved in. These headlines often use words like “mind-blowing” or “life-changing” and other hyperbolic words. These headlines usually look something like this: “What these girls did with cucumbers is mind-blowing.” Then the article is about how to use cucumbers to get rid of dark circles around the eyes.
Numbers and Lists
Often articles on the net are written in lists and numbers because that’s how people like to consume information. So, the person who writes clickbait headlines will take one of the numbers and blow it up. For example: “These men love sausages. You’ll be shocked at what they do with number 3.”
Headline writers who use clickbait have to keep thinking about how they can make you anticipate reading the article as they create the headline. They’ll say anything to get you to click, including totally misleading things. One way is with anticipating. “She is only 3 feet tall. Wait until she opens her mouth. You’ll be amazed.”
Clickbait Breeds Mistrust
The sad fact is that clickbait might get people to click for a while, but eventually most people will not trust that source for information anymore. If you want to be the go-to person for a particular genre of content, avoid clickbait, and you’ll rise to the top.
The problem with clickbait is that it’s creating “headline blindness” which is just like advertisement blindness. People no longer even read the articles because they know there is no point. If you click on a headline and are disappointed more often than not, you’ll just quit clicking. This is bad for content producers, and really bad for content marketers. You want everything you do to be above board and honest.