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Let’s Go Fishing With Clickbait

Entrepreneur recently featured an article simply titled “Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise” that proved to be somewhat controversial. This was apparent to anyone who has a good understanding of technical Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or even to those who aren’t quite so well versed who have read through the backlash that was prevalent in the comments. Whilst the article can be seen as lacking a genuine understanding of technical SEO, what it did do was generate interest in the source material. Essentially the article proved that clickbait can be a great tool for generating discussion, creating buzz and getting people to visit your website. Whilst you might have to stir the pot a little and in the process generate an opposing view, the goal here is to increase the number of genuine unique visitors who will spend time on, and engage with your website. There’s a variety of different approaches that can be taken to achieve this, so don’t feel that this article is a set in stone approach, more of a guide to how to use clickbait and the power of debate to your advantage.

Benefits of Clickbait

  • Effective low cost advertising
  • Chance to go viral
  • Reach out to new visitors
  • Engage with existing users
  • What is Clickbait?

    SEO BlackboardThe old ‘does what it says on the tin’ rule applies to understanding what clickbait is. Clickbait is essentially a link to content that has a heading or purpose solely designed to draw people in and get them to click on the link being advertised. These links appear in various different forms across the internet, but in many respects have been in place since people started using the internet to advertise their site’s products and services, dating back to when it was acceptable to use the phrase “click here”. Clickbait has evolved a long way since its beginnings with the pop-ups of yesteryear that tried to sell less than credible products and services. Nowadays we have well-known companies such as BuzzFeed who have gained notoriety most notably through Facebook with an endless stream of “top 10 lists on how fast food is bad for you” through to those shocking celebrity secrets that you really need to know about. This trend of clickbait articles can also be seen at the bottom of numerous websites, usually in a block of articles to encourage you click away with abandon, and continue to do so once you’ve started with new and enticing articles awaiting you on every page. These articles are usually somewhat hollow, and are usually reviled by the savvier of web users. You generally know that something has reached a point of aggravating popularity when The Onion is satirising what you do, which they did for clickbait sites such as the aforementioned BuzzFeed with ClickHole, which brings us to a very important issue.

    Don’t Try to be BuzzFeed

    What BuzzFeed does is very successful in its own right, but for your website it’s very likely that their model won’t benefit you. The BuzzFeed model requires enticing users with clickbait, but without the need to provide particularly engaging content which leads to high bounce rates. Your bounce rate is one of the metrics that can be used to rank your website, and it’s one of the few metrics that you don’t want to be high. A high bounce rate means that the majority of visitors to your site are visiting for a short amount of time before leaving. What you want is for visitors to spend time on your site, to engage with your content and ideally click through to other pages and complete your call to action. So while it’s great to have a title that generates the kind of buzz that traditional clickbait would, you want to ensure that your content is engaging, that what a visitor discovers after clicking a link is relevant to the title of the link itself, and most importantly that you haven’t wasted their time. This can be done with debate generating content, such as the article posted by Entrepreneur, which whilst some may bemoan it for being inaccurate in its observations, it did a great job of engaging users with an enticing title and kept them on site due to the discussion that it created. It can be very beneficial to have content that generates interest, but you do need to know who you are targeting your clickbait at.

    Know Your Audience

    Debate BlackboardKnowing your audience is a vital step at every step of the way in creating a great user experience on your website, from designing the look and mechanics of your website in a way that will engage with people, to ensuring that the content is appropriate to your target audience, and your target audience is who you want to keep in mind if you want to create potentially controversial clickbait and content. It’s great to stir up debate and discussion on your site, and by all means be the one who prods outspoken visitors into sharing your clickbait link, which will hopefully get other visitors involved. But if you’re selling a product or service you don’t want a successful article to put them off completing a call to action because they feel misaligned with your message. For example; if you run a café you don’t want to post an article that bemoans the high prices of barista made coffee as opposed to making your own at home. You might have a hugely successful article that generates discussion amongst java enthusiasts, but you’ll likely put people off from visiting your café, and obviously this is bad. The trick is to know what will stir the pot, understanding what will get existing and potential visitors engaged with what you’re saying, without damaging your brand and the message your website is working hard for you to convey.

    Don’t Alienate Your Customers

    An important element of knowing your audience is understanding how far you can push opinions that generate debate. There’s a fine line between creating clickbait that makes your users want to share their opinions because they feel that what you have said doesn’t exactly represent them, and outright alienating them from visiting your site again because you have so far misaligned yourself from them. Treading this line can be difficult to achieve, and it can feel like a better option to play it safe with content that doesn’t rock the boat, and there’s nothing wrong with these articles. For your existing users these articles are why they visit your site, and it’s important to keep your loyal visitors happy and they also give background to who you are and what your company message and brand is all about to visitors who aren’t familiar with your business. Keep in mind that implementing clickbait methods can give you a bit of an edge, and give you the chance to engage with people that might never have visited your site before, just be sure not to go too far and alienate your existing audience.

    What Michael Bell One Can Do For You

    At Michael Bell One we have years of experience in designing websites with a great user experience at the forefront of everything that we do. In addition to website design and branding services, we offer comprehensive SEO packages which can include blog writing; where the methods we have detailed in this article can be implemented, amongst a whole host of strategies for content creation that will be tailored to your needs. If you would like to discuss what Michael Bell One can do for you please do get in touch with us me (Jake Judd) or David Park today by calling 01273 478822, completing our online contact form or emailing us at hello@juddassoc.com.