Clickbait titles are as common on the Internet as websites themselves. While you want a title to entice your readers to actually click through and see your blog, using clickbait titles can be a slow path to killing your traffic.
“Doing This One SINGLE Thing Could Cause Cancer”
See that right there? That’s a clickbait title. And the Internet is rife with them. Lots of news outlets use them and way too many bloggers use them. They’re garbage and in this article, I’m going to give you a few reasons why you should be avoiding them on your blog.
Now, as a disclaimer, I’m not a mega-successful blogger myself. But I do run a few. One of my blogs gets over 10,000 visitors every month – so I’d like to think I know what I’m doing. I avoid using clickbait titles for 3 reasons.
1. Clickbait Articles Don’t Benefit From SEO
When was the last time you Googled something like, “what single thing should I NOT do if I have type 2 diabetes?” It might be a fun set of results, but that’s not how people use Google. Someone using Google would be more likely to search for, “activities for diabetics to avoid” – and this would be a much better title for an article.
When Google indexes a page or an article, do you know what the first thing Google reads? It reads the title. Most SEO professionals agree the title is one of the top markers used by Google to figure out exactly what your article or post is about. If a search engine can’t tell immediately what your post is about, they’re less likely to serve it up as a result. Clickbait titles don’t clearly state what an article is about – that’s why they’re clickbait.
Bounce Rates & Time on Page
Clickbait titles also tend to have a high bounce rate and a low time on page because people hit the article, quickly realize it’s not what they were looking for, and then they leave your site. As it turns out, this combination is one of the key metrics search engines use to determine if they served up the right result to their user. If a user lands on a search result and quickly abandons it, the search engine becomes less likely to return that same result for similar queries.
Think of it like this… If someone asked you for a piece of information and then quickly dismissed your reply, you’d assume that you didn’t give them what they were looking for. The next time someone else asked you for that same piece of information, you might give them a different answer. Even if you use other search engines besides Google, this is exactly how they work.
2. Clickbait Titles are Only Good for Social Traffic
What could be bad about social traffic? There actually isn’t much bad about traffic coming from the likes of Facebook and Twitter, but that’s not the point. Bloggers need their traffic to come from as many different sources as possible. It’s definitely true that clickbait titles get shared more frequently on social networks. That bunch of sharing doesn’t necessarily translate into meaningful traffic and in most cases, that sharing has to be started by you – the blog author.
While pushing your own content on social media has its place, it’s not a sustainable plan for consistent traffic to your blog. If you’ve taken the time to monetize your blog, then you’re chasing the dream of having your blog making money for you even when you’re not actively pushing it.
Clickbait titles can help you get traffic spikes, but in almost all cases, those spikes must be initiated by you sharing them on social media yourself. That’s not the dream! The dream is enticing other people to do that for you.
3. You Might be Destroying Your Readers’ Confidence
Arguably, the most devastating blow to your blog’s success is to lose readers. While you’re the one who does the work, it’s the readers who make your blog successful. When you lose readers, you lose the lifeblood of your blog. It simply cannot live without someone to read it.
How many times have you clicked an article title with a specific expectation only to find out after trudging through the article, that it didn’t deliver what the title promised? Do you still visit that site? I’d bet the answer is, “probably not”.
Final Thoughts on Clickbait
While it can be tempting to try to jumpstart your blog traffic by writing and sharing articles with clickbait titles, it could ultimately harm your brand and traffic. If you’ve monetized your blog, clickbait can actually put your income at stake.
If you’re not certain about a title for an article, it’s fairly simple. Ask yourself, “does the title tell the reader exactly what the article contains?” or “is this title something someone might type into Google?” If the answer is no, or you’re not sure – it might be time to think about a new title.
What’s your opinion on using clickbait titles?
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