Clickbait: what is it and is it worth using in practice

Clickbait: what is it and is it worth using in practice

Literally translated from English, the word clickbait sounds like “click” and “bait”, but it is often called “click bait”. By this we mean clickable headlines with supposedly “sensational” content. content designed to attract the attention of the target audience and force a person to follow the link. Thanks to this, sites receive targeted traffic. Unfortunately, in order to achieve this goal, news is very often distorted to the point that it loses its credibility. And this, in turn, causes a lot of dissatisfaction both from users and various Internet sites.

Clickbait is aimed at evoking emotions in readers. Often they are primitive, low-frequency. They can cause excitement, bewilderment, indignation, pity, even condolences. But once you click on such a link, all these emotions turn into one — anger at those who engage in clickbait and at myself personally for making such a mistake and going to the site. The entire meaning that was present in the headline directly distorts the news itself, does not reveal it, and in some cases even contradicts.

And here a completely logical question arises: “So why do we need clickbait?” Now let's look at this in more detail. We will also highlight the main signs by which clickbait can be identified. Let's talk about whether it is worth using it in practice. Here are a number of recommendations that will allow you to create a clickbait title and pictures. We’ll also tell you how to write a clickable headline without clickbait, thereby obtaining a solution that will be well targeted at the user audience and will not cause negative reactions from them.

Why do they use clickbait in practice?

The main task that is set for clickbait — This is attracting the attention of the audience in order to subsequently earn money from advertising and increase traffic to the site. Often, malicious files can be distributed this way. One click will be enough for hacker software to appear on your device, which will quickly gain access to all your data. The clickbait system itself is set up in such a way that as soon as a user clicks on a link, the site on which it is posted will receive a certain amount. That is, for each click there is a separate payment. At the same time, the advertiser receives the desired traffic to the site , which will have a positive impact on its promotion in search results.

For the most part, clickbait is implemented in the form of a small banner, photograph, anchor, video, or headline. And regardless of which option is chosen, it will already contribute to the user’s desire to click. Very often, when creating clickbait, phrases such as “you won’t believe it”, “this is what is happening”, “just look”, “only today” are used. etc. We will talk in more detail about how to recognize clickbait below. But in any case, the message will be the same — this is “unique” information that is presented here and now.

Clickbait is most often found in practice in the following topics:

  • medicines that miraculously cure all diseases;
  • political, economic events;
  • stories about the personal lives of public people;
  • acute problems of our time;
  • an opportunity to earn a large amount of money from scratch;
  • certain life hacks;
  • news about the death of famous people (false).

This is not a complete list of areas that are actively used in the development of clickbait. Often there are no principles or even banal respect for people’s personal space. Create similar material — This is only half the solution to the problem. It is also important to place it on the platform so that people can view it. But no self-respecting platform will allow the publication of such material on its pages. Those who have been building their own reputation for years are not ready to lose it even for the fairly impressive sums of money that they are offered for posting such a link.

How to solve this problem? Turn to those who are not particularly worried about their reputation, since there is simply nothing good in it. This is why clickbait is mainly found on low-grade resources. Those who do not disdain any means of earning money. These can be news sites, resources dedicated to pornographic topics, as well as teaser networks. By the way, the teaser network is a traffic exchange. This is a kind of additional link in the interaction between the advertiser and the webmaster. That is, the advertising customer is looking for traffic. He turns to such an exchange to find a specialist who will help him ensure a flow of users. It turns out that the owners independently give permission to use their resources as an advertising platform. They install a separate block on it dedicated to advertising and receive income from each click.

And here in itself the answer to the question arises: who is falling for clickbait? And the answer: users of low-grade resources. But if you don’t have time to figure out which site cares about its reputation and which doesn’t, then you need to at least learn how to identify clickbait among all the information presented on the network. We will tell you how to do this now.

We recognize clickbait easily and simply

Let’s immediately say that there are very, very many clickbait options today. Specialists working in this industry are improving their skills and expanding the range of tricks they use. But still, it is enough to show a little attentiveness to understand that this is clickbait in front of you and simply do not click on the link. As practice shows, most of these clickable headlines lack the essence of the information. And you are offered to find out if you follow the link. That is, some fact with a double meaning is presented, which will also be distorted or exaggerated. Everything is aimed at ensuring that the user follows the link and finds there some kind of “well, information that he really needs.” For the most part, all this remains a cheap gimmick, and users do not find anything new and interesting for themselves.

Now we will present a number of signs by which you can easily identify clickbait among the entire mass of clickable links that are on the Internet. We are talking about such moments as:

  1. The absence of a message as such, but the creation of intrigue around it: there is something, but we won’t tell you what it is yet. Follow the link and read.
  2. The presence of quotes from text content. They can be really attractive and interesting. But if you go to the site, you are unlikely to find this very piece of text. With the help of such citations, advertisers simply want to create the effect of reliability of the data presented.
  3. Excessive use of ellipses, exclamation marks, and question marks when grammatically they make no sense.
  4. Large statements are rumors, literally historical events, the authenticity of which you cannot verify right here and now.
  5. Addressing users as “you”. This is intended to create a more trusting relationship.
  6. Presence of vivid comparisons, exaggerations, colloquial slang, inclusion of phraseological units, sayings, proverbs in the text.
  7. The presence of pronouns indicating certain people, objects, events, in particular “this”, “these”, “this”.
  8. A call to be the first to gain access to such “important and secret information.”
  9. Using challenging phrases such as “you’ll never believe it”, “this can’t happen” etc.
  10. Use of unfinished, dangling sentences. This should make you want to follow the link and read the news to the end.
  11. Addition to text content of shocking videos and photographs.

Regardless of which clickbait design option you encounter, you need to understand that all this is done in order to simply increase the number of clicks. This means that it does not bring any benefit or value to you. That is, you can simply pass by without even paying attention to it.

But, despite all these deceptions and pitfalls, clickbait fully lives up to expectations. People click through, thereby creating massive organic traffic. And this is what makes us think about the possibility of using clickbait in practice, especially for companies that are just starting to develop in the market or are launching their online presence. We’ll talk further about whether it’s worth doing this in practice.

Pros and cons of using clickbait

There have long been persistent conversations and debates between specialists and resource owners about whether or not to use clickbait in practice. And it is impossible to give an unambiguous answer to whether it is worth applying in practice. From an ethical point of view, clickbait headlines give the audience high expectations that are subsequently not met. And if your company has been working hard on its own reputation for a long time, then it’s clearly not worth resorting to such solutions. Be that as it may, this is a lie. Even if you don’t plan to drop malicious software onto users’ devices in this way, you will still cause disapproval, which will certainly affect the company’s image. That is, if the user does not find confirmation of his expectations, he becomes indignant and feels deceived. Are you ready to put up with this side of the issue?

Now let’s put emotions aside a little and talk directly about the facts. So, here are a few points worth highlighting:

  1. Imagine that you see a fascinating headline and would like to explore the information that is presented there. It is clear that you follow the link and start reading. For the most part, already from the first lines it becomes clear that this is unreliable or completely empty information. What do you do in this case? Most likely, along with your indignation, you will simply close the page. This means that your stay on the site will be short. Yes, traffic to the resource was made, but the search engine in its algorithms also takes into account the failure rate. Namely, this parameter is determined based on how long the user was on the site. It is believed that if he closed it quickly, it means that the information presented on it is irrelevant and not worthy of attention. This will lead to search bots moving this page to the bottom of search results due to inconsistency with user queries. It turns out that there is traffic, but the position in the search results is lost. Is this what you expected?
  2. The fight against clickbait from social networks. Facebook was the first to launch such work. There are separate tools here that will analyze headlines, identifying template phrases of the clickbait type. That is, those that do not reveal the essence of the content. To learn how to recognize clickbait among a huge number of headlines, Facebook conducted a massive analysis, which allowed it to identify similar headlines and thereby block them from appearing in the feed.
  3. Video hosting sites are also actively working against clickbait; in particular, YouTube monitors how interested viewers are in a particular material. They check the duration of viewing and use this parameter as a ranking for a particular video content. It turns out that if people close the video literally immediately after launching or skip it, then it is recorded in the low-relevance category and moved to lower oppositions in the ranking process.
  4. Banner blindness. This term has come into use relatively recently. In this case, we are talking about the fact that people have simply stopped responding to all kinds of advertising . There is so much of it on the Internet that most users simply skip it on a subconscious level, without even reacting, without being distracted by something that is absolutely not interesting to them. That is, the likelihood that clickbait will actually attract a person’s attention is gradually decreasing. This means that it’s time to move from cheap and not particularly conscientious tactics to something more advanced and useful.

Should clickbait be completely eliminated from consideration? Surely it’s not worth it, because after all, if you take into account human psychology, you can draw conclusions that people are still interested in something unusual and interesting. But only in this case, you should think through all the content to the smallest detail. The content that people see on the page after the transition should fully correspond to the title itself, revealing its essence. This is what will allow a person not to feel deceived. Only in this case will your clickbait justify itself, will not cause denial among people, and will not have a negative impact on the reputation of your brand.

Now let's talk a little about what topics and techniques can be used to create clickbait.

The Basics of Creating a Clickbait Title

In order to grab your audience's attention and encourage people to click on your link, you need to create content that will actually interest your audience. So, some interesting topics that can be used to create a clickbait title include:

  • A selection of any lists. For example, it could be “5 films for family viewing”, “TOP 15 books that every educated person should read”, “10 tricks for a slim waist” etc. This is a fairly classic solution, which has not lost its relevance today.
  • Earnings. A topic that is relevant at all times. There are no fewer people wanting to earn a large amount of money without doing anything special, despite the absurdity of such a decision.
  • Health. It would be nice to have a treasured pill that will cure any disease and help you lose 10 kg in 1 month without harm to your health. That’s why such headlines as “We’ll cure fungus in one procedure,” “We’ll get rid of alcoholism forever,” “Lose 5 kg a week.” — this is what attracts the attention of so many.
  • Contact with public figures. This is something that not only clickbait does, but also the media. We are talking about providing any information about a famous person or event. For example, headlines such as “A famous Russian politician has died” or “Star of the series “Friends” divorced" will certainly attract the attention of people who are interested in politics or a fan of the famous sitcom.
  • Breaking news. We are talking about information that is relevant here and now. The one that cannot be put off until tomorrow. But the only thing that needs to be taken into account in this case is that such headlines work here and now. After just a few hours, they may be completely irrelevant. But the effect from them will be quite high.

Attracting the audience's attention using techniques

To attract the attention of as many audiences as possible with clickbait, the idea itself will not be enough. It is still necessary to use a number of techniques that will contribute to making the target transition. In this case we are talking about:

  • Use of various syntactic techniques. These can be ellipses, emoticons, question marks, exclamation marks, or a combination of them.
  • Verbs with a motivating effect such as “pass”, “buy”, “get” etc. With their help, you can add a dynamic effect to your clickable phrase.
  • Colorful, lively descriptions. Dry verbs can be supplemented with the help of different adjectives and comparisons. This way you can emphasize the importance of the information provided.
  • Direct appeal to the reader. It can be conducted on “you” or “you”. The main thing is to create goodwill. Here you can appeal to the user’s profession, for example, “Every mechanic should know,” or to interests, for example, “How to collect 3 buckets of strawberries from one garden bed.” etc.
  • Expert approval. A striking example of such a solution is the phrase “Never do this” or “You absolutely cannot do this.” And it doesn’t matter whether you interest someone in this or make them want to argue, the person will still click on the link and follow it.

That is, the main secret to the success of a clickbait title — to interest the user in order to get the most from such an idea. It would be useful to supplement the phrase with an original picture. And here there are also a number of recommendations.

Recommendations for creating a clickbait photo

The attention of the audience should be attracted not only by the inscription, but also by the picture. Only with such a combination will it be possible to really interest a person and encourage him to follow your link. And here there are also a number of tricks that can be used in practice:

  • Difficult to identify objects. If something incomprehensible is drawn in the picture, then the person will be interested in following the link and seeing what exactly we are talking about.
  • Comparison of two separate photographs, often using an idea such as "Before" and "After". This is a typical example that is used in practice by many advertisers who want to attract the attention of their audience.
  • Adding text to a photo. This is what we talked about above, namely the combination of a picture and the phrase itself that describes it. The main thing here is to use inconsistency and incompleteness. A person is psychologically designed in such a way that he needs to find out what’s next. It is this interest that will make him click on the link.
  • Vivid details, emotions of characters. It is necessary to make the picture so that it literally hurts the eye. Such that no one will pass by her.

In principle, when creating clickable images and headlines, the possibilities for experimentation are very wide. But in any case, the main thing is – do not overdo it and do not cross the line that separates quality content and garbage, which today, alas, is presented in abundance on the Internet. To avoid mistakes, you must understand what kind of audience you are dealing with and already focus on their requests.

Large and reputable companies probably shouldn’t resort to clickbait. People come to their sites for an expert opinion, for some kind of value. And it would be inappropriate to use such crude techniques as clickbait here. They can cause a negative reaction in people and cause them to switch to your competitors. But if your brand voice involves informal communication, if you are ready to offer your audience really high-quality and interesting content, but you need to attract attention, then such a solution will be fully justified in practice. But in this case, we will no longer be dealing with clickbait as such, but with a professional clickable headline. And there are some nuances here.

Recommendations for writing a clickable title

Unlike clickbait, where the crudest approaches can be used, writing a good clickable headline will require great professional skills from a specialist. And here the following recommendations will help you:

  1. Do not use complex ornate phrases, focus on unambiguity. There is no need to mislead users. Immediately tell them what you meant, show them what benefits a person will receive if they follow the link. An example of such a solution is the phrase “7 types of exercises for every day for a beautiful figure.”
  2. Focus on benefits and value. Show what benefits or knowledge a person can get if they use your material. An example here is the phrase “5 useful tips for keeping your refrigerator clean.”
  3. Use questions in phrases. This way you can attract the attention of your audience and interest them in clicking on the link to read the answer. Alternatively, what kind of toy should I give to a three-year-old child so that he will be delighted?
  4. Create curiosity in your audience. This is the only way you can interest people and encourage them to follow your link. Here you need intrigue, unusual facts, information that few people know about. As an example, you can cite the phrase “5 cheap products that can replace expensive seasonings.”
  5. Don't forget about originality. Template phrases with which the Internet is replete today clearly no longer attract people’s attention. They literally don't notice them, just passing by. Therefore, show your creativity and add a touch of humor. An example of such a solution is the phrase “Tastes like grandma’s: the best recipes from childhood.”

To summarize

What is happening now in the online advertising market is gradually changing and transforming. Obviously yellow headings with empty content are becoming less and less common in practice. Marketers have already assessed all the negative consequences that come with any fraud, which can also include the provision of false information. In addition, today many social networks and video hosting sites have already begun to fight clickbait.

To make it easier for you to determine for yourself the need to use clickbait in practice, here is a brief summary of all the material presented:

  1. The title and description of the clickbait intentionally attracts the attention of the audience and encourages people to click on the links. But practice shows that there are much more promises in such headlines than people actually get in the end. That is, there are clicks and views, and along with them there is outrage from people.
  2. The most clickbait can be seen in the media space: specialized news sites, social networks, content platforms, blogs.
  3. Clickbait can be identified by loud phrases, exclamatory question marks, ellipses, and understatement of thoughts.
  4. In parallel with the increase in the number of views when using clickbait, you can observe a decrease in the site’s position in search results. This is due to the fact that modern search bots, when ranking a particular resource, use not only the number of transitions, but also how long a person was on your site.
  5. Along with obvious yellowish clickbait, you can use attractive cable headlines that will lead to pages containing truly useful information for the audience.

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