Did it blow your flippin’ mind? No. It was a terrible video of a pumpkin being lit on fire in someone’s backyard. Was it special? No. Was it unbelievable? Certainly not. It was predictable. Was it even worth your time? Probably not.
You clicked on it because the headline was deceptive and exaggerated. Mediocre content was elevated to the level of the unbelievable in order to bait you into clicking the link and, in turn, serve you sponsored ads. This is called clickbait, and it’s awful.
If it’s awful, it won’t last, right?
Sadly, wrong. While clickbait is annoying and frustrating at times, it works wonderfully for the sites that have adopted it. It seems unlikely that clickbait is going away anytime soon; however, there are three valuable lessons we can take away from this trend as we compare it to a solid, long-term content marketing strategy.
1. Your headline is everything.
Clickbait masters are masters of the headline. They know how to grab attention and coerce a click with a few words. Our purposes, however, are somewhat different. We aren’t interested in pageviews; we are interested in qualified leads. Yet, the principle still stands 100%. Good writers spend 50% of their time on the headline alone. It literally does not matter what your marketing strategy is. We can look at these two extremes on the marketing spectrum and see that both sides are obsessed with great headlines.
There are many resources available on writing good headlines. Consider these popular blog articles to start:
- Headline Writing 101: How to Write Attention Grabbing Headlines that Convert
- 5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines
- How to Write Magnetic Headlines
2. People are gullible. Can they trust you?
This is good news for us, because unlike the clickbait peddlers, we are actually seeking to inform and educate our audience. If you look at the numbers for a site like Buzzfeed (a particularly prolific clickbait publisher), the first thing you notice is that they don’t have a lot of inbound traffic hitting the home page. They rely heavily on social sharing and individual clickbait articles that usually flame out in a few days. This matters because there is no trust being built over time. For a site like Buzzfeed, the trust begins when you see the headline and flames out after the headline disappoints you (or you forget about the dancing cat video in a few days). The visitors they attract probably don’t even know what site they’re on — they just want the last three words of that irresistible headline. It turns out clickbait only works if clicks are all that matters.
If clicks aren’t all that matters, and you are more interested in qualified leads, trust matters. Craft your content to be valuable in both the short term and the long term. The easiest way to accomplish this is to provide relevant, quality information and establish yourself as a reliable and intelligent source of information. By creating valuable, educational content, you build trust and promote brand loyalty.
3. Social crushes organic search, but only if the stars align.
We all have dreams of going viral, but predicting where lightning is going to strike is a science beyond what most are capable of. Jimmy Kimmel has done it a few times, but we don’t have that kind of budget. So instead of putting all your eggs in the Facebook and Youtube baskets, it may be a better idea to play the long game - and that means stellar SEO.
Those clickbait articles don’t do SEO. They plan on being around for a few days, maybe a few weeks, and then drifting into oblivion. We want our content to be there for us for years to come. After all, you can’t expect every qualified lead that you will ever see to be interested in your next blog post on the day that you publish it. Imagine the satisfaction when your next big sale is the direct result of a blog post you wrote three years ago. Keep your content optimized for search, grow your site’s authority metrics, and reap the benefit of a steady stream of quality, optimized content.
Clickbait is awful, but we can learn from horrible things. In this case, we’re learning that some rules have no exceptions, sheep need a shepherd, and Waypost is there for you in case you can’t afford Jimmy Kimmel’s marketing team. Click the banner below to get started!