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09 December 2018 | Posted by Digital Analytics Team

Why Clickbait Headlines Won’t Work

Clickbait Headlines

”You Won’t Believe What Happened Next…”

I can almost certainly say that I’m not alone falling for clickbait headlines anytime in my life, you know like ”You Won’t Believe What Happened Next”. And as many times I have fallen for it, as many times I have told myself afterwards ”How stupid can I be that clicked on it?”. The answer is pretty simple, curiosity.

But first thing first, what is a clickbait headline?

5 Amazing Marketing Strategies That Will Make YOU a Millionaire

Here you have a classic example of a clickbait headline! How can we tell? Well, an article will not make you a millionaire, so the headline does not provide what it promises. The headline itself does not offer you any concrete information, it simply plays on emotions and tries to make you as a reader wanting to know more.

Well, isn’t it good for our website with a clickbait headline if it creates more traffic? Because more traffic means more views of advertising content, which gives more money! The truth is that only because you get a lot more clicks to your website, maybe through an ad, it’s not certain that people will take an action, like buying a product or signing up their email. It’s more likely that it will get opposite effect.

So YES, clickbait will surely draw more traffic to your website. But is it just the traffic you want, or do you also want to have engagement form your visitors?

It’s of course important to have an interesting and attractive headline so the reader want to read your whole article. But the question is where the line goes between a smart headline and clickbait. To have a clickbait headline is a very short-term strategy and you are risking to lose your readers or customers trust.

Even Facebook has gotten tired of the phenomenon of clickbait. Engineers on Facebook has gotten informed of that people don’t like when stories are misleading, sensational or spammy. Because of this, they have worked with the algorithm to reduce the stories from the News Feed, which comes from sources that frequently posts clickbait headlines.

What can you do instead?

Facebook is a really good way to reach out to readers or customers though. So, what can you think of instead to drive reach and referrals to your site? According to their engineers you should:

Make sure that your headline informs properly

If your headline is missing information of the story, readers will most likely find it mistrustful. The reader wants to know what the story is about, and not be forced to click on the article to find out. It is a better strategy to use calls-to-action in the posts to get engagement.

Give your readers a proper expectation of the article

Users of Facebook have informed that they expect a story to have a clear and accurate headline, misleading information makes them chose not to click on it. It is better if you don’t exaggerate, but instead use your own voice to make an attractive headline to your article.

More Tips For An Attractive Headline 

A clean and dynamic language

Don’t do it to complicate, use words that your reader can relate to. But still a dynamic language where you engage the reader and capture their interest. It is also a good idea to addressing to the reader directly by using the word “You”.

Use keywords which are searched for a lot

For people to read your article it’s important that they are able to find it at all. This is why you have to use at least one keyword which have a high search volume in you headline. There are plenty of websites you can use for cheching if your specific keyword has a high search volume, for example;
- WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool -
- Moz’s Keyword Explorer which you pays for, but has a free trial -
- AdWords Keyword Planner if you have an AdWords account -

Introduce a bold statement in your headline

This can really wake your readers interest, and the curiosity it draws will surely result in high click-through rates.

Have numbers in your headline

Lists and numbers actually attract people, and this is proven time and time again to be effective. An article in the format of a list speaks to people and it’s easy for the brain to process.

But keep in mind

Do not abuse these tips by turning them into clickbait headlines, use them to make meaningful headlines that gives information and shows what the article or story will tell. Then you can use the tips to make sure the readers will find your article when they search for something specific, through your keywords and your attractive headline.


Therese Fernström

4th Year Graduate Student in Management Business and Technology at La Salle University


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