Are Clickbait Headlines Good or Bad for Digital Marketing? Learn the Surprising Truth
Hearing the word “clickbait” usually makes SEO managers cringe. For some, it brings to mind things such as keyword stuffing, redirects and link farms. Aren’t clickbait titles just another type of black hat SEO? Not always. In fact, clickbait headlines can actually IMPROVE your click-through rate and search rankings.
One recent study revealed that extreme headlines have a stronger effect on reader engagement than purely informational ones. Google is interested in user engagement. As long as your titles satisfy visitors — even clickbaity titles — search engines are happy. When you know how to pair the best clickbait title with the best content to back it up, the benefits for page traffic are phenomenal.
Master the Art of Clickbait
First, let’s cover a few clickbait ground rules. Always steer clear of misleading wording that search engines may penalize. When you need a writer, look for content professionals who create high-quality articles and headlines. Never allow your company’s blog titles to be deceptive, exaggerated or downright false.
The key to mastering clickbait that converts is to remember the real purpose of clickbait titles. Whether you’re creating a title for blogs, social media posts or web pages, you always have four main objectives:
- To capture attention
- To stimulate curiosity
- To produce an emotional reaction
- To drive clicks
Clickbait titles can absolutely have that kind of effect on visitors. In fact, these headings are masters of piquing interest. Unlike cookie-cutter SEO headlines, an engaging clickbait title has the power to get people excited about your article before they read a single paragraph.
Learn From the Best Clickbait Examples
These 12 expert clickbait headlines examples show you how to stop people in their tracks and get them to click. What you learn will completely transform your social media feed, branded blog and email marketing campaigns. These are the type of titles you get when you decide to invest in immersive content:
1. “The Biggest SEO Trend You’re Ignoring”
Telling your customers that there’s something they’re not doing correctly creates an emotional reaction right away: fear of missing out (FOMO). No one likes to keep making mistakes. You can take advantage of the natural human desire to learn and improve to motivate for clicks. This useful theme has many variations. Here are a few emotional clickbait headlines examples:
- X Things You Should …
- X Things You’re Not Doing …
- X Mistakes You’re Making …
- X Reasons You’re Having Trouble With …
We love the above clickbait example from Neil Patel (a lot of his podcasts use clickbait titles effectively) because it sparks interest from two different angles. First, readers need to click to discover what this huge SEO trend is. Second, clicking is the only way they can be sure to avoid a big mistake.
2. “7 Reasons To Pay for Antivirus Software and Skip the Free Versions”
Windows Central does a great job of attracting readers to this article using a listicle format. Believe it or not, numbered lists are a type of clickbait headlines. They’re also incredibly popular with consumers and business customers.
Mentioning a list of benefits is one of the most effective ways to convince someone to click on your blog post or social media post. Lists contain compact morsels of helpful information, so they’re easy for readers to digest quickly. In today’s frenzied world, this kind of brevity is attractive for anyone who is busy.
3. “28 Bathroom Decorating Ideas on a Budget of $100 or Less”
When it comes to lists, big numbers are better, especially if you’re competing with other clickbait titles. With 28 gorgeous decorating ideas for a bathroom, this House Beautiful piece towers over other blogs that only offer five or six tips. We also appreciate the way the company skillfully inserted so many attractive keywords (including “budget” and “$100 or less”) into this sleek heading. That’s why you need a writer with SEO experience to produce the best clickbait title.
4. “8 ‘Bad Habits’ That Actually Help You Lose Weight”
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? When you tell someone that an idea they’ve had forever is wrong, it stimulates the same desire to uncover the truth as the best crime drama. Notice the careful way that Eat This, Not That! hooks readers by putting “bad habits” in quotation marks.
Any time your blog titles or tweets indicate that you know something visitors don’t, you’re using clickbait headline examples to drive page visits. Here are a few popular variations of these headings:
- “5 Common Mistakes Most Parents Make With … ”
- “10 Myths You’ve Always Believed About …”
- “8 “Facts” About … That Are Completely False”
Clickbait titles that claim to debunk myths give people a strong urge to click so they can discover the real story. In just a few seconds, you’ve managed to entice visitors to read to the end. Of course, this kind of article has to be backed by in-depth research, so it’s essential to make sure you have sources you can cite.
5. “84 Insanely Easy Ways To Save Money on Groceries”
To maximize the effect of clickbait headlines, choose your words wisely. Remember that one of the main objectives of clickbait article titles is to create an emotional reaction. Colorful adjectives paint powerful word pictures that motivate clicks.
Urban Tastebud illustrates this point beautifully by adding just ONE word: “insanely.” That single adverb transforms the entire headline, demanding attention in a sea of similar clickbait title examples. Compare the positive effect of Urban Tastebud’s bold title with something more generic like “Save Money on Groceries.”
6. “Warren Buffett Makes It Clear: Stay Away From Airline Stocks”
As this piece from The Motley Fool shows, name-dropping can be an effective way of creating an engaging title. The trick is to use someone your target audience knows and respects. Many fashion brands and sports apparel companies (think Nike’s Air Jordan) use this technique with celebrity collaborations.
In B2B industries, the “names” included in clickbait headings sometimes belong to brands instead. “Forbes Says…” or “Takeaways From Entrepreneur’s Top 500 Franchise List…” are a few good examples. The idea is to rely on a trusted source to sell your article.
The difference between cheap clickbait tricks and excellent content comes down to your follow-through. Great clickbait articles live up to what they promise. If they advertise finance tips from Warren Buffett, you can bet you’re going to find quotes from Warren Buffet.
7. “10 Tips for Starting a Small Business That You Haven’t Heard a Thousand Times Already”
This Forbes heading is effective because it creates expectation and tells visitors they’re going to learn something new. If there’s one thing that makes people bored, it’s reading the same tired info for the nth time. However, new information is irresistible.
The Forbes article sounds especially exciting thanks to the addition of “That You Haven’t Heard a Thousand Times Already” to the title. Compared to a bland “The Best Tips for Starting a Business” that everybody else uses, this piece stands out immediately.
How can you generate the same excitement and enthusiasm in your clickbait blog titles? For starters, hire a writer who is passionate about your brand. Titles that are filled with emotion inevitably spark strong emotions in readers, too.
Make sure your content always gives the impression of being new and interesting. Mentioning the current or upcoming year in clickbait headings can be a great way to do this. “The Complete Guide to the Best Antivirus Software for 2020” adds a fresh feel to pillar pieces.
8. “Why Mobile Payments Matter to B2B Companies”
To hook readers immediately, it’s critical to explain from the very beginning why they should care about your article. Clickbait titles often use words such as “why,” “how,” and “when” to engage with people. These words simultaneously explain the importance of the topic and create anticipation. To find out “why,” visitors have to click.
GoCanvas attracts the attention of its target audience by mentioning “B2B Companies” in the title and getting business owners to think about a few interesting questions: “Why are mobile payments important for my business? Am I missing out by not having mobile payments? What benefits will I get if I implement mobile payments?” This entire mental conversation happens instantly by including a simple “why.”
9. “This Is Why Pringles Aren’t Really Potato Chips”
If you want to take the power of the five Ws and an H to the next level in clickbait titles, follow the example of Reader’s Digest and add the words “This is…” to the beginning of your titles. Headlines like “This Is Why E-Commerce Sales Are Dropping” deliver an interesting tease without giving away the secret. Here are some other clickbait headlines examples using this method:
- “This Is How Professionals Paint Doors”
- “This Is Where Mold Grows the Most”
- “This Is When You Should Mow Your Lawn”
- “This Is What Your Child’s Teacher Thinks of You”
“This Is” titles suggest there’s something the reader absolutely needs to find out. It’s hard to resist the urge to discover what exactly “this” is. Announcing a blog with “This Is the Best Way To Cook Pasta” is more enticing than choosing “How To Cook Pasta.”
10. “Why Your Brilliant Marketing Is a Waste of Time and Money”
“Wait… what?” That’s the initial reaction of any SEO professional who happens across this superb clickbait title. How can great marketing possibly be a waste of time and money?
As you probably imagine, a trusted name such as Inc. isn’t really advocating dropping marketing from your brand’s roster. All the same, the headline’s controversial statement is so compelling that you just have to discover the real story. The article actually explains the wrong way to go about marketing and the right way.
When it comes to attention-grabbing titles for your blog pieces, making a controversial or shocking statement can be very effective. These headlines tend to create a strong emotional reaction in readers. For example, an article called “Eating Fat Makes You Lose More Fat” is bound to turn heads simply because it goes against everything dieters usually believe.
11. “How To Refinance Student Loans in 7 Steps”
If your goal is to make every one of your clickbait articles and landing pages irresistible (of course it is), you need a writer who knows how to describe specific concepts in concise terms. Notice the way NerdWallet spices up a generic SEO title by adding “in 7 Steps.” This has an incredible effect on reader interest.
Put yourself in the place of someone browsing for loan refinancing tips. Coming across a bland “How To Refinance …” heading would probably make you think the information is going to be complicated or boring. Then you see NerdWallet’s title and you suddenly feel at ease. You’ve found the information you’re looking for, and it comes in seven easy-to-understand steps!
Content professionals customize headings to the target audience’s interests. Avoid generic titles that sound like they came from a keyword generator. When a heading tells readers exactly what to expect, their brain starts to salivate for high-quality content — it’s like the aroma of a gourmet meal.
12. “The Best Anti-Aging Secrets Dermatologists Won’t Tell You for Free”
One of the easiest ways to get people excited about tips is to refer to these tidbits as “secrets.” The word “secret” implies you’re sharing something valuable, unique and authoritative. Even better, secrets are something that not many people know about.
The Healthy takes traditional clickbait headlines examples even further by stating that these tips are something patients would normally get only from a paid session with licensed dermatologists. For the admission price of a single click, the site’s readers find these amazing secrets for FREE! Who wouldn’t want to take 30 seconds to learn more?
Hire a Writer To Create the Best Clickbait Titles
To use clickbait headlines effectively for your company, always hire a writer with a reputation for writing the best content. Clickbait titles only work with search engines if you deliver on what the title promises. That said, don’t hold back from including power words such as “amazing,” “mind-blowing” and “shocking.”
Clickbait may be the black sheep of the SEO family, but that’s just because it stands out from all the other sheep out there. Investing in incredible clickbait titles and headlines helps to ensure your content gets the attention it deserves. See the amazing difference it makes for your company when you hire content writing services from our expert team.