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Are You spending a lot of time writing Clickbait Headlines like Buzzfeed?
Then you might just be doing the worst thing you could ever do for your blog..
A Clickable headline is what every blogger wants to write because his ultimate objective is to get readers to click on that link and come over to his blog to read his blog post.
There are 2 noteworthy points in the above statement. First, readers clicking on the link because of your headline. Second, they come over to your blog and read your post.
Does a Clickbait headline satisfy both these points?
It will not, because it is meant to take care of only the first part. The second part is to be taken care of by your content. You need to ensure that your content ties really well into the headline that the reader clicked on.
And it is here that the problem lies.
I remember how the headlines formula changed after sites like Buzzfeed and Viralnova emerged on the blogging horizon. All of a sudden it was all about traffic from social media and, Buzzfeed like posts were all over your social media feeds, especially Facebook feeds.
The inquisitiveness that the headline created made people click on those and a multi-million dollar business named Buzzfeed was born.
But this trend did a lot of harm than good to blogging and content marketing in general.
There are so many instances where you would have clicked over a headline to be taken to a post that sucked from the beginning till the end.
Why You Shouldn’t Focus too much on Clickbait Headlines
Something that a site like Buzzfeed destroyed was genuine content generation and the use of genuine headlines – headlines that conveyed the essence of a post.
While a lot of bloggers adopt this style of writing headlines, this might just not be the right thing to do.
Let us see why it is not the right thing to do and why writing Clickbait headlines could prove disastrous for your blog.
The Unnecessary Hype
The Buzzfeed like headlines generate inquisitiveness by creating an unnecessary hype.
I still remember one of those headlines that I saw in my Facebook news feed, that read – “8 Horrible places in the World that You would never want to visit – the 6th is the most Frightening”.
While the headline in itself was interesting, the last few words generated an inquisitiveness to find out what that 6th place was and hence I clicked over to go to the post.
And what did I find..
Absolutely nothing different from the rest of the 7 places that were quoted there. All of them were equally frightening and the 6th one was no different from the rest. Though the post was interesting, I felt I was cheated by the headline.
In spite of an experience like this, I still clicked on many more such headlines that I saw in my Facebook newsfeed and most of them turned out to be just the same – an unnecessary hype.
Something that you need to keep in mind is that such headlines generate a lot of hype and it is almost always, very difficult to live upto that hype that you have created which eventually means you are going to upset your readers, if your content doesn’t live up to the expectations generated by the hyped headline.
Clickbait Headlines are a Fading Trend
This trend of writing clickable headlines is soon fading. After all of the fake links that people click over to see content that is nothing more than just crap, it was just a matter of time that people realized that these headlines were nothing more than hoax.
More than the way Buzzfeed dealt with it, it was the way other websites copied this strategy over.
Their objective was only to get people to click through and they never really cared about the quality of the content that they were creating. As a consequence, the internet was full of crap articles with only a click worthy headline.
These days, whenever I see such headlines, I soon click away from them. And I am sure a lot of you also do the same.
So, if you are using this strategy to write your headlines, it is just a matter of time before your drive away all your readers and visitors.
Hence, be careful about using Clickbait Headlines for your blogposts.
Clickbait Headlines Fit Only a Certain Niche
While many marketers might disagree with me, I feel that Buzzfeed like headlines are suitable only for a certain niche.
For eg: the offbeat news niche, where you are in a way aggregating or, curating content about unusual news. In fact that is what sites like Buzzfeed, Viralnova, Upworthy, Boredpanda etc. are.
They are all websites that targeted news and information that could generate a sense of inquisitiveness in you. And maybe that is why they prefer writing such headlines because that way they could get people to click through on them.
Such headlines do really well with such kind of headlines. In fact I was able to use such articles to generate traffic to two of my websites in the Offbeat news niche and then sell them on Flippa.
Check out the first one which was a 4 month old site that was setup using an aged domain that I bought at an auction, that sold for $350.00.
Imagine a headline like “The 14 Most Wanted Truths Of The Last 10 Years”. Wouldn’t you want to click on it to know what these truths are?
You would absolutely.
Headlines like these are articles that matched up the buzz that the headline created was able to help me sell a similar site for $100 in just 2 months of setting it up.
While this is possible in an Offbeat news niche, internet marketing is not about inquisitiveness.
So a headline like “The 14 Facebook Truths that nobody told you about” wouldn’t really qualify for a post in the Internet marketing niche, as it would for an offbeat news kind of a website.
But at the same time “The 14 lesser known Facebook ad hacks that can make you money” could be a good post for an internet marketing blog. But the question is, how many such posts would you really be writing?
Are Clickbait Headlines Really that Bad?
Does this mean that Buzzfeed like Clickbait headlines are bad and that they cheat.
No it doesn’t.
In fact, Buzzfeed and Upworthy built their entire business on such headlines. So they cannot be bad always.
But the point is that they might just not be the right thing for your niche.
Also if your article doesn’t match up to the headline, then the headline and the post is bound to fail.
According to Neil Patel, as he writes in one of his posts at his blog,
Headlines fail when they don’t match the article written or aren’t relevant to a specific theme. (Also, when the length exceeds 62 characters, search engines tend to ignore the remainder of the headline. This could decrease the conversion rate in the long run and decrease the search engine appeal you’re after.)
That talks about 2 clear reasons why headlines fail.
And one of those reason is the length of the headline. Pretty much all Clickbait headlines are longer than 62 characters and that could hurt your search engine appeal in the long run.
How Do your Write Good Headlines
Writing a good headline is an art that you can master with a little bit of effort.
Quicksprout has an entire guide on Copywriting and here is what they say about writing headlines –
For a headline to be effective, it needs to have these 4 u’s. It should be unique, It should be ultra-specific, It should convey a sense of urgency, It should be useful.
They also go on to say,
You can rarely accomplish all four in a single headline, but if you can at least include one or two then you’re bound to write a headline that’s more likely to compel your prospective customers to continue reading.
Wordstream also has a nice blog post with 19 headline writing tips. The post is a little old and slightly outdated but some of the tips are handy and evergreen like using numbers and digits in your headlines and keeping your headlines below the 70 words count etc.
In internet marketing it is more about information. If you are able to identify the problem statement and address that in your headline by using a hook that gives away partial information, then your headline is bound to do well.
Such headlines are the best ones. It might take a little bit of time mastering it, but it is worth the effort.
Resource Mentioned in this Episode
Here are the resources we spoke about in this episode –
- Neil Patel post on Writing headlines
- Quick Sprouts guide to Copywriting
- Wordstream’s 19 headline writing tips
Thank you for Joining me
Thank you all for joining me in today’s episode.
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