I’m sure you’ve seen those articles that appear at the bottom of news sites or on Facebook and are almost irresistible to click on. I mean, we all want to know about that “Unbelievable New Dietary Trend That Will Make You Lose 50lbs Instantly!”
These titles, as sensational as they are, are called clickbait titles because they entice the reader to click. They are a trick of the trade for digital marketers looking to land an impression on their website.
Whether you want to know how to write your own clickbait titles or avoid clicking on articles that are clearly designed to make you click, we wanted to discuss the various factors that go into clickbait titles.
7 Best Headline Types
There are seven main types of clickbait titles that seem to perform very well. A recent study by Venngage found that 46% of titles included at least three of the following techniques.
Listicles are literally just lists of things such as “top 10 grammar tools” or “30 products on Amazon that you need right now.” Listicles are great at capturing attention and allowing readers to quickly skim through content and deciding what they want to read. Yes, we made this list of traits intentionally so that you would read it.
In fact, listicles receive the second most shares of any content type behind only infographics.
Buzzfeed has done very well capitalizing on this trend. Below you can see how 3/4 of the articles I just pulled up on Buzzfeed are listicles of various lengths.
2. How Tos
“How To” articles are another classic clickbait. They’re easy to write and readers love learning about new topics or new ways to things they already do. To make a great “how to” article title, think about something that your audience would want to learn more about and make sure your title conveys the instructional nature of your content.
Sensational titles tend to draw a lot of attention. If something is the “best” or the “largest” how could you not want to read the article?
A popular advertising network called Outbrain is actually responsible for showing most of these sensational headlines. In fact, the three articles below were shown in an article about President Trump on CNN.
4. “You or “I” personal story reference
One of the best ways to connect with your audience is to share a personal story. This is true for both in-person conversations and online interactions. While this technique works for blog articles, it also works wonders for sponsored ad titles.
People love reading stories about others, especially when the story is particularly sensational.
5. Mention of an animal
Cute animals get people excited. There’s no denying that I would click on a title mentioned a cute dog or panda. A title referencing an animal is also likely to contain a cute photos. Who wouldn’t want to click to see more cute photos?
6. Food and pop-culture references
Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook feed and paused because that cake looks so delicious? Buzzfeed’s Tasty has done a great job of creating irrestible-looking videos of delicious recipes. While they do most of their marketing through tantalizing videos, they certainly act as clickbait.
7. An element of shock and awe
Titles that shock the reader are often powerful click baits since readers want to learn more about the shocking story. For example, I’m sure you would read the article titled “Dog runs into burning building to save owner.”
Bonus: Radical Photos with Slideshow Presentation
Titles aren’t the only things that entice you to click on that fascinating article on your feed. Images and video play a huge role, too. One favorite technique of digital marketers is to show you an odd or shocking photo that makes you stop long enough to click. These photos are often part of a listicle slideshow that requires you to either scroll or click through a number of other photos before seeing the one you clicked on the article to see.
I’ve even encountered slideshows where the photo that was in the advertisement or social media post isn’t even in the slideshow! But it certainly got me to the article.
In fact, you may have gotten to this section wondering when we’d reveal how to triple your traffic! The fact is, we don’t (although creating great SEO and clickbait titles can help) and you just fell for a classic clickbait tactic!
The best way to make a title that can be considered clickbait is to combine several of the types of clickbait titles listed above. The image from CNN above (and copied below) includes several examples of how multiple clickbait title types can be combined:
- Far Left Image: “Washington Drivers” makes a personal reference (#4) and sensational (#3 – are they really surprised?).
- Middle Image: The article is clearly a “how to” (#2) about how to remove fungus. The title also using a shock and awe tactic (#7) referring to toenail fungus.
- Right Image: Sensational phrasing (#3) in “Puts Air Froce One to Shame.”
As you can see, clickbait is used in a lot of advertisements. Now that you know what techniques are used to create clickbait titles, you will start seeing them everywhere!