Clickbaiting: Where and How-To and Not-To Use it

Clickbaiting and matters arising

Before I started blogging, I learned a few things among which were clickbaiting, its dangers, legality, and penalty. Read: Before Blogging: 5 Things First.

I advised in my post, "How to Make a Blog Successful in Just One Year", you shouldn't set out in this world without some basic knowledge. Else, you may spend the first few years working hard, but later to realize, you have to start all over.

One of the missteps that may force publishers into starting afresh is click-baiting.

My early knowledge of this discouraged me from this act, Then, later, I unconsciously did it. I published a few posts with catchy titles. The result of which let me, eventually, conclude that clickbaiting may not be as deadly as being painted by everybody out there.

And if you look round the net for guides, you'll learn there's nothing wrong with it while some will be frank to warn you to resist the urge.

This post will be, perhaps, the most comprehensive and straight-to-points guide you may ever have at your disposal regards clickbaiting, its benefit, and dangers.

What's Clickbaiting?

The term is usually used, in online marketing, to describe a post with most inviting and existing titles but aiming to win clicks from the unsuspicious audience while the content doesn't or does deliver what the titles promise.

Some sources had strictly called clickbaiting a "false" uses of post titles to lure or entice users to read, view, watch all kinds of content on the net.

With experience, clickbaiting shouldn't be seen as a bad approach in all its capacity. Of course, it's bad if it's used wrongly but if effectively used, it's not a crime.

Some writers will be blunt about this. They will conclusively say you'll be penalized for baiting irrespective of your intention or how it's executed. They're wrong!

Clickbaiting Can Really Be Dangerous If Abused

I can assure you, sooner or later, you may pay for this act. This could be the reason some authors don't want to be friendly about it.

As for me, I think you'd better be shown the dangers of "the wrong clickbaiting" first. Then, show you how you can ethically use it without any penalty.

Clickbaiting is wrong when your content doesn't deliver what your titles promise. Hence, let's see a few cases of how people misuse this sword.

1. Post Title is Different from the Content

This is very common in the early days of the internet, in literarily all niches.

But with time, readers grew to understand when a title can be mere clickbaiting. As a result, more publishers dropped the act and did their work diligently.

Here, the titles of posts say what readers want to see. But, landing on the pages, they see other things entirely different.

This is the most wrongly executed title-baiting. Google bots had grown to crawl, not only the titles but the content. It matches both before ranking. And if you know how badly this may affect your Google Quality Rating, you'll be careful taking this route.

If the titles and content significantly defer, you'd lost ranking. Hence, you'd just lost your efforts.

Where the bot is skippy, readers will bounce back landing on the wrong pages. You may experience some traffic in the first few weeks of your publication. The bounce rate will throw you off the search results sooner. Read: How to Reduce Bounce Rate: 11 Most Effective Tips.

2. Post Title is Rich With Solutions but the Discourse is Limited 

Here, some publishers are aware of what people are truly searching for. They write titles around that. Yet they're not capable of producing unique and quality content on them.

When you search the internet for a problem, the first 10 results you see are mostly the best of all the results the search engines can gather. Why?

Both bot and human reactions and interactions, with all the results, had shuffled them over time. It's was later the ten posts were given the deserved places.

Some publishers write crappy posts and give them sweet and comprehensive titles to bait the readers.

The effect is not different from the one above. You can enjoy a few clicks now, your content will be specks of dust in time.

3. Inner Post Titles Linking to Wrong Pages

Especially in the developing world, a few publishers love giving their readers titles that relate to or promising their desired content after taking them to one post.

These linked titles look good enough that you can't but click to read what the landing pages have to offer. Getting to the result pages, you end up seeing different things. In that new posts, you're still given other links that take you to new pages and so on.

This is the worst clickbaiting tricks of recent years. You may waste all your audience time - taking them from one page to others and never achieve anything.

In the advanced world, this hardly works today because visitors had grown to detect this after two clicks. And where it's working, people will grow up to know you're only hungry for their visits, page views, and ad clicks. See how you can ethically increase page views with a few visits.

If I may remind you of the long-term effect of this type of clickbaiting, your success is temporary. People will mark your domain and never return to you, even if it shows up in their next searches.

4. Catchy Gist or Rumor Titles With no Delivery

This seems the latest trend with the content being shared on Facebook, Whatapp mass message, and other social media, lately.

You see a catchy title around your expectation or interest. But, when you land on the page, nothing you're looking for or expecting.

Of course, such publishers are seeking free and cheap traffic and clicks.

For example, you see a title such as "Npower Application Out: Website to Apply"

The author knows people are waiting eagerly for the application to start.

Then, on getting to the page, the writer says, "The application portal is www.soso-and-so.com. Though the website is not going for now. Check back later."

Your expectation should be that the application has opened. Then, you wished to pick the website or follow the promised link and fill your form straightaway.

Now, you're disappointed.

Correct Execution of Clickbaiting is Not Bad

One way or the other, we're all guilty of clickbaiting - even those who are campaigning against it.

Yes, you read that right!

Back to my introduction, I told you I baited with some of my posts. The result made me think twice about my early knowledge.

The posts I baited with really performed well and still rank to date even after three years or more.

What does that tell you?

Both the people and search engines fell in love with my approaches. If you will love to learn them, below is a list of rightly executed clickbaiting.

1. Bait But Deliver the Promise

Let me be sincere with you. No one clicks on uninviting, unexciting, and unpromising titles. You have to make your title bait. However, you must deliver the promised content.

If your title says "11 Types of ....", it may likely rank higher than a publisher who says "5 types of ...".

But this comes at a cost of giving the promised number on the landing page. See 4 Title Touches To Gain More Clicks and Ranking.

2. Bait But Open in the Introductions

Since people are lured into visiting your pages through the post titles, use that to your advantage.  However, be quick to open up in the introduction.

This will let them know if you're diverting a bit from the title or if there are new, similar, or more complex things to cover if they can be patient with you.

If your title says, "Shortcuts to Making $10,000 Blogging Per Month" That may be baiting of course. if you let them know from the start that, though it's realizable, yet not until a few years of effort, they won't be disappointed.

In the introduction, you should let them know that no other shortcuts but you can quicken the processes for them if they read to the end. See How to Write Post Introductions to Win Readers/Ranking.

3. Bait if You Have Better Related Posts

One of the title-baiting techniques I fall for lately is when I noticed there is a trending topic to write about. But, due to the timing of things at hand, I couldn't venture into covering that immediately. So, I wrote a short content around the topic and included my subscription link for the visitors to receive future updates.

With this method, I want to be ranked for the keyword. Meanwhile, search engines usually favor early publishers. For certain niches such as news and industry updates, the earlier you can write and publish, the better for your ranking. See Best Times to Post with Traffic and Ranking in Mind.

In order not to lose your authority and ranking, you can post as quickly and let the title be rich enough. Then, promise to update later. You can include your subscription link - promising to send them an email as soon as you have further information.

This works like magic. In fact, the news industry loves it more.

Haven't you read news with "full update shortly" to the end?

Deciding Whether to Clickbait or Not

Even though baiting can work for any niche just as it can hurt any, you still have to decide if it's the right take for you.

If you must bait without following my legitimate approaches, you need to check these long term effects and sacrifices. Then, you can decide.
  1. Expect Short-term Success: For some bloggers, being relevant in the industry for decades is not their goal. They want to come, eat, and quit.  If you're such, you can still enjoy your success while it lasts.
  2. Don't Expect Organic Traffic: If you want to be promoting your content through other mediums than organic traffic, you can clickbait. It may be ideal for Facebook content marketing, WhatsApp unsolicited mass messages, and so on. If you want to rely on what Google and other search engines will be sending to you, refrain. See How to Dominate the Internet Without Google or Ranking.
  3. More Relevant for Non-Evergreen Content: If you write content that date so quickly, such as rumors, gifts, etc, baiting can be for you continually. If you're in the niche where people read a ten-year-old post, again and again, refrain from clickbating. You will need organic traffic for such. See 4 Super Approaches to Create, Build and Run Authority Blogs.
  4. Users are Still Determinants: Even though, on certain occasions (if bots could detect you're baiting), search engines may frown at you. Yet, visitors determine whether your posts should be thrown down the ladder. If your audience still loves you in the act, search engines may decide to follow the bait too. If they click, read to the end and keep coming back for more, your ranking is assured. Hence, you may need to study and understand who you're writing for before considering baiting. See How Google Truly Ranks Posts Up to No. 1 Position.

Conclusion

Clickbaiting is not criminal but can be unethical if abused. Don't promise what you can't deliver. It's unfair?

However, if you can follow the ethical approaches to execute clickbaiting (as discussed in this post), you should be on the right path, notwithstanding.

The bottom line is, if it's working for your niche and audience, such that readers' experience is not negatively affected, search engines are forgiving.

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