Are You Making These Clickbait Mistakes in Your Headline?

Getting clicks for the sake of clicks is not wise at all

Nick Chai
Nick Chai
Dec 13, 2020 · 5 min read
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Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Would you believe me when I say headlines make or break businesses? Everything online breathes through content. Without it, your business doesn’t exist. Headlines are the doorway to content even for images or videos. Ask yourself how many times you click on something just because the headline is compelling.

Your headline is the window to your content

If you are a marketer of some sort, you should know that the headline is what gives you reads and clicks. Whether you are selling products and services or simply expressing your inner creativity, the headline is three times as important as the context. That is how impactful the headline is to online content.

With all the focus on headlines, creatives started to ‘innovate’ to get attention and clicks. That is when clickbait is created. The headline is said to be totally unrelated to the context of the website. It destroys the trust between the audience and the writer.

All the clicks in the world mean nothing if trust is not established with the audience. In simple terms, your headline is the first interaction your audience has with you. The first impression you leave on your audience goes a long way in whatever you are trying to achieve.

Clickbait mistakes you should avoid

While clickbait can give clicks, it won’t give you long term success. You should avoid using clickbait in your headline, specifically. The best value you can provide to your audience is trust because it is the only thing that matters in the digital space.

Before you hit publish, check your headline and see if you are guilty of these mistakes. As a copywriter, I have seen and tested many types of headlines. Some of them are very well-received; some of them caused red-flags and bans. I want to share with you the characteristics of clickbait so you don’t make the same mistake as I did.

You can tell almost immediately if the headline is a clickbait by this rule alone. It contains no context whatsoever. All it does is prompt you to click to find out what is ‘interesting’ inside. Vagueness is the number one characteristic of a clickbait.

You can avoid this by adding context or the benefits your audience will receive should they choose to click on it to find out more. I find this ten times more effective than a generic headline. For me, emotional headlines work the best.

Another classic clickbait tactic — playing on the fear of missing out and instant gratification. This is very powerful but misleading. People don’t like being sold to and they certainly hate being played around with. You can’t expect people to believe they can lose 100 pounds in 24 hours. It is ridiculous.

I’m fully aware that fear of missing out is a legitimate marketing tactic. But you have to do it right. One way to avoid being too good to be true is to not make ridiculous claims. Oftentimes a ‘limited edition’ will give enough urgency to your customers provided your pre-selling is on-point.

I think value, as we know it, is overrated. And clickbait played a huge role in shaking things up about how people view value. A true value lies in the eye of the beholder which is your audience. Not what you think is valuable to them. Clickbait uses power words and keywords to get clicks. This concept blurred the line between clickbait and non-clickbait.

What you should be doing is to determine what your audience deem valuable and provide them exactly what they are looking for in your headline. When you offer a solution to their problems, they will click to find out more. Guaranteed.

Hype is another indicator of clickbait. Not only is it vague but also too good to be true. Hype plays around with our emotions. And as humans, we tend to respond to extreme stimuli. It is coded in our DNA to pay attention to things that excite us.

Clickbait is an emotional hijacker. It hunts on its prey based on their weaknesses. I suggest using trends in your headline without being hyphy. For example, use ‘Bitcoin Gains Popularity As Warren Buffett Made His First Deposit’ not ‘Experts Predict 1,000% Increase in Cryptocurrency And What This Means To You’.

Traits of a great headline

Now that we covered some of the common characteristics of clickbait, it is time to uncover the traits of great headlines. A good headline is hard to pull through which is why you should spend more time crafting perfect headlines. I hope these tips will help you craft non-clickbait, highly valuable headlines.

Every time people look something up online, they are either looking for: 1) Entertainment, 2) Solution, or 3) Inspiration. Before you write a headline, put these into consideration. Then, give them exactly what they are looking for by stating it in the headline.

The next thing to do is to sprinkle some power words to make the headline compelling. For example, if I’m writing to moms who are interested in rearranging their gardens, my headline would be ‘10 Landscaping Ideas to Try This Summer’.

As I mentioned earlier, your headline is the first thing your audience will interact with before they click. Your job is to be as concise and clear as you can be when writing your headline. It is better if they can tell what it is about right away within the first few seconds of seeing your headline.

You don’t need clickbait when you can write headlines that get attention through clarity and value. But keep this in mind, your headline won’t perform when it is shown to people who aren’t interested in what you have to say. Traffic quality affects how well your headlines perform.

You should definitely be clear with your headlines. But laying it all out is not recommended. Leaving some room for curiosity is the best way to write headlines as it increases your clickthrough and reads.

People look for solutions all the time. And if they see it in your headline, they are not likely going to click on it. Why? Because you gave them a reason not to click on and find out more. A curiosity-based headline stands out better than a hype-based headline.

Here comes the tricky part. Curiosity alone is not enough to make them click. Your headline has to be emotionally compelling to encourage action. I have tested this over and over again. I can vouch for this.

To make your headlines emotionally compelling, play around with these four elements — specificity, uniqueness, urgent, usefulness. One headline can consist of more than one of these elements. ‘10 Landscaping Ideas to Try This Summer’ is urgent and useful for those who are interested in gardening.

Guilty of unintentional clickbait?

I hope, after reading this, you get a clear picture of what clickbait is and isn’t. Keep in mind that headlines are worth 80% of your content so make sure you craft a great one. A great headline will indeed make or break a business.

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Nick Chai

Written by

Nick Chai

Direct response copywriter. Business inquiry: niick.chaii@gmail.com. My link: https://neon.link/k6Q

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

Nick Chai

Written by

Nick Chai

Direct response copywriter. Business inquiry: niick.chaii@gmail.com. My link: https://neon.link/k6Q

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

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