Why Clickbait Won’t Catch Fish or Clients

When it comes to catching fish, I recommend using bait like worms, spoons, and jigs (not clickbait). However, catching clients is much harder. Clickbait does not catch clients any better than it catches fish.

What is clickbait?

Clickbait is the use of attention getting and semi deceiving titles to generate clicks to low-quality content.

This is a good example of a clickbait title.

“Is your boyfriend cheating on you? …He is, if he does these five things.”

The article then reveals its five things which include: he is no longer interested in you, and he often sleeps at a “friend’s” house.

Clickbait promises one thing but provides another. It uses catchy titles to drive clicks and traffic to useless or low-quality content.

The problem with clickbait

Of course, you provide good content. You won’t write meaningless content like our previous example. But if you write a title that looks like clickbait people won’t click on it.

The problem is that people who consume online media regularly have an internal spam filter. If something looks like spam or clickbait they will not click on it as much. They assume it will be a waste of time.

There are words that indicate to people that something is clickbait. According to a study conducted by Outbrain and Hubspot people are less likely to click on headlines that contain “Magic”, “Tip”, “Credit”, “Cure”, “Simple”, “How To”, “Easy”, and “Need” by 59 to 44 percent.

This means that if a headline contains one of those words it will see about half the number of clicks when compared to content that does not contain these words.

We should note that the content behind these titles might be great. But people judge a book by its cover, and people judge content by its title.

It is easy to see that clickbait will drive your click through rate (CTR) down. Some words will drive your CTR down by as much as 59%.

What will clickbait do to your conversion rate?

The answer is simple. It will drive it through the floor.

The first step to increasing your conversion rate is to increase engagement. If we measured engagement simply as pageviews per session, we would see that clickbait titles kill engagement.

There is an inverse relationship between clickbait and conversion-rate.

The first reason that clickbait kills your conversion-rate is that most clickbait uses primarily emotionally driven titles to generate clicks. As soon as the curiosity or fear that caused people to click is satisfied they will leave.

Because the user only needed to satisfy their curiosity they have no desire to explore your site.

The second reason clickbait kills your conversion-rate is that it lowers the quality of your site. People will assume all that is on your site is lame fluff if your titles look like clickbait. Who wants to go browse your site for more lame fluff?

You can see that a clickbait title will reduce pageviews per session by as much as 73 percent. This is a massive decrease in engagement.

The moral of the story is that if your website is a key component of your sales or marketing strategy you should stay away from clickbait.

There is a balance between clickbait and boring

The answer to avoiding the clickbait problem is not writing boring titles. People don’t click on titles they don’t find interesting.

When titling your content, you should ensure that you have an engaging title. It should make people want to click on it. But it should not look like spam.

The key is making your titles both substantive and engaging.

A substantive title tells people what they should learn and the sort of media they should expect. An engaging title creates an appropriate amount of curiosity.

When you combine these two elements of a good title, you get a title that will tell people what to expect and encourage them to learn more.

This is a good example of a substantive and engaging title.

“Optimizing Sites for Featured Snippets with Q&A Content [Case Study]”

This headline tells people exactly what they should expect. It is substantive. It even has a bracketed clarification that lets people know it is a case study. It is also engaging (if you are interested in SEO of course).


You are producing valuable content your readers enjoy. Don’t make it look like spam by using clickbait tactics.

Make your titles substantive and engaging, not over promising and underperforming.

Clickbait will lower the value of your site. It will also reduce conversion rate and profits.

In the end, clickbait will not catch you any new clients.

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