Why You Should Be Avoiding Click Bait In Your Content

Click bait blogging strategies

Click bait drives views, there’s no doubt about it. The question is, for how long, and at what cost?

Clickbait colloquially refers to those scores of misleading, hyperbolic, or generally disingenuous headlines that hook readers in to drive views. The content is often shallow and, while generally provides a short-term boost in clicks, is far more often damaging in the long run. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “clickbait” as: content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.”

Simply put, it’s content that’s designed to grab your attention and nothing more.

These kinds of headlines are killer at absolutely destroying trust in your content. Think of how many times you’ve seen BuzzFeed churn out, “At first this man was derp, but by the end you’ll never believe what happened!”

I say, “churn out” because they quite literally churn this post-journalistic chum out like it’s Grade-D meat to throw to the fishes. And you’re the fish.

In the end, click bait proves to your readers over and over again that you’re only interested in eye-catching headlines to solicit their clicks, not the quality of the content that lies within. Let’s be honest, your most valuable asset to BuzzFeed is your index finger (or thumb, for mobile users).

And while click bait is certainly a drain on resources that could be otherwise spent creating quality content—content that speaks to the people already in your audience without pandering to irrelevant people on the periphery, the negatives pile even higher when you get into the hard analytics of the stuff.

SEO Unfriendly
Google, for the most part, hates click bait. And that’s a good thing. Click bait sites know this and rely on social media almost entirely for their traffic. Click bait traffic thrives on the notion of, “OMG, Cindy, this list is so us.” And while Cindy may or may not agree with the accuracy of “The Top 21 Things That All Best Friends Say To One Another,” she’s already clicked on it.

Her opinion on it hardly matters, because her view has already been counted. If Cindy doesn’t find the article compelling enough to repost, then she won’t. But, like the hydra of Greek myth, for every Cindy that doesn't give a damn, two more hapless users will get a kick out of it and repost.

I could rant for days on this topic, but the real question that matters here is how this really pertains to you. Where can you, as a content creator, take the necessary steps to avoid the click hole? In my opinion, it really only boils down to two simple principles.

#1. Be Genuine
It’s really not all that difficult to craft an eye-catching headline. It’s another thing entirely to provide content to back it up. Don’t just toss chum to your readers, but give them something real to digest within the body of your articles. Avoid hyperbole, misleading questions, and seemingly relevant headlines that then prattle on about absolutely nothing in the body. You’re not poking a stick at readers here to see if they’re alive; you want to genuinely engage them.

#2. Be Relevant
No, not just timely, but actually relevant. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to pay attention to trends and topics that are currently buzzing around the Internet.

Being informed and in the know is a great habit to get into—gearing your articles towards timely and relevant topics in a meaningful fashion can be great for readers.

But remember, you’re not shooting for quantity over quality here. You should provide relevant, quality content for the readers already invested in you.

Diving into the click hole headfirst is a tempting proposition for any content creator. There’s no denying the statistics: click bait drives views. But time has shown us that meaningful content that treats readers with a sense of dignity really can pay dividends in the long run.