So much of a site’s profit is tied to the traffic it gets. This could be due to advertising revenue, Ecommerce, subscription services etc. The only way to make money is to get eyes on the prize, your website. Without traffic, you can’t have people buy your product or collect ad revenue from their visit. Click-bait type of headlines can be an easy draw for lots of new viewers, but like everything, there is a time and a place. Here’s a look at when clickbait headlines work and don’t work.


What is a Clickbait Headline?


A clickbait headline is an article title designed to draw the reader to click on the link. Typically what determines if something is clickbait is if the wording follows a specific format that has been tested and confirmed to generate more clicks. Here are some general types of click-bait headlines:


You Can’t or Won’t Statements: These headlines work for stronger willed readers who are confident, or quizzes.


You can’t guess the capitals for all of these places. “Yes I can” ~ Click.

You won’t be able to watch this crazy video to the end. “Yes I can” ~ Click.


Odds are you’ve clicked on plenty of these headlines in just the past week. You click on them because you see it as a challenge, and in your quest to be the true alpha human, you have to first conquer three minutes of people doing the cinnamon challenge, just to say you beat the challenge.


Fear, Gain, or Entertainment Lists: Lists in general are a very popular format. They are easy for publishers to churn out, and people love digesting quick information. It’s a crazy world we live in where a good time on page stat can be just a couple minutes.


When was the last time you read an entire newspaper article in under three minutes? Unless you’re an olympic speed reader (that’s probably not an olympic sport), probably never.


Just look at our SEO Webcopy article. The inverse pyramid is powerful, and a list fits the format perfectly. Quick hits of information at the reader's fingertips. What’s more appealing?


A Two Thousand Word Essay on Cat Food Ingredients


10 Reasons the Craft Cat Food Market is Exploding


What Happened Next Statements: This type of headline is used to attract people to pages with short spurts of information and usually an embedded video.


They are similar to can’t or won’t statements but vary slightly. A what happened next statement challenges your confidence in a different way. They call into question your confidence in your ability to predict events based on a scenario.


A what happened next statement will give you a scenario (A), and tell you that you can’t guess, or won’t believe what happens next (B). Here’s an example:


We put a hidden camera outside our office  (A), and you won’t believe what we caught on camera (B).


Of course you’re going to guess, and since you guessed, you need to see if you were right. And it doesn’t matter if you were, because the publisher got you to stay on their site for a couple minutes watching a video (yay time on page stats), and got the ad impressions too.


Fix Right Now Statements: These titles play more on correcting possible issue in your lifestyle. They don’t particularly have a niche that they fall into. All you need is a trend, and then you need some form of opposing opinion.


Correct These Yoga Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Joints


Dang it, I thought yoga was supposed to help my joints, I better check this out.


These are the four big templates when it comes to classifying your title as clickbait or not. Now let’s look at when it is or isn’t appropriate to use them, and how to use clickbait titles to your advantage.


When Clickbait Articles Work


Clickbait articles can work, and not be considered negative when used and implemented correctly. Here are a few tips to consider before launching your next article.


Have content that matches your title: Nothing makes you click out of a page faster than finding out that the article has nothing to do with the title, or is only very loosely based on it. These are more common in advertising copy as the goal is to get someone to click your link so you get paid. However, if you’re using clickbait titles as a way to grow your audience, have good content to back it up.


Use the right type of headline: As much as content is important, using the wrong headline format can also be detrimental. For example, what happened next statements shouldn’t lead to long-form articles. People are only there to check to see if they were right. They’ll either scroll through your copy or not even get to the end before clicking off. But odds are, they won’t be sticking around.  

When You Shouldn’t Use Clickbait Articles


Every coin is double sided, so there also some times that clickbait articles should be avoided.


Controversial Content: If you’re content is more likely to start and argument in the comments section, you may want to avoid clickbait style headlines. It’s good to have a healthy amount of discussion in the comments, even if it gets heated. However this type of content paired with clickbait headlines will lead to a downfall of your credibility. I can think of one or two food bloggers whose popularity met an end because of this combo.


Sensitive / News Content: Here’s the thing. You aren’t fooling people with a clickbait article headline. You know one when you see it, and so do most people using the internet. They know it’s a clickbait headline, and they still click it. These types of headlines are clicked more as a physiological response than anything else. Because of this, you also don’t want to use clickbait headlines for news content or content that may be sensitive. It can hurt your credibility. “Oh they’re just taking advantage of a situation for clicks” ~ Click.


Used properly attractive headlines that drive clicks in a physiological manner can be extremely effective at garnering meaningful traffic. The important thing to note is that there’s a time and place for it, and it shouldn’t be the only type of headline you use. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be off to a great start.