Have you ever seen those sensational headlines on Facebook that leave out the most critical information to dress up mundane content?
How about those hyper-dramatic video titles on YouTube only to get disappointed at how irrelevant the actual content was?
That, my friends, is what we call clickbait. They are often misleading and do not always deliver what they promise. It has become an epidemic (and not to mention, a norm for headlines) and you can barely navigate the Internet without coming across at least one of them. It's no wonder why Facebook wants to display less of such content. The social media giant implemented more tools and a new algorithm update last year to reduce clickbait headlines appearing in our news feed. Even Google did not let it pass and rolled out a number of updates to sift through clickbait.
So, the question now is, how you can get more clicks to your content without succumbing to the temptation of clickbait? In this article, we will discuss the various ways to drive organic traffic to your social media channels online and how to score more clicks without the help of a clickbait headline.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
Sure, clickbait may be effective at getting more clicks than standard headlines, but it's not good enough to betray your reader's trust. Let us tell you the reasons why:
- These clicks will not turn prospective customers into loyal buyers. Again, it will not convert users into followers. You will actually lose some instead if you do.
- The temporary traffic you gained from using misleading titles is not worth the reputational damage or being labeled as a spammer. Not only it will ruin you in the long run, but you will also lose your credibility.
- Your website will have a high bounce rate (percentage of visitors that leave your site) since the content does not trigger curiosity. Google will mark your site as less valuable if they found your page not relevant to the user's search query.
Being honest with your audience is important which is why you should never trick them into clicking those kinds of titles. So, instead of relying on those annoying clickbait headlines, try to produce articles with well-researched content that have accurate headlines.
Basically, what you need to do is set your audience's expectations. Don't exaggerate and most importantly, stick to the facts. Your readers will thank you for being straight to the point and giving them the information they want to see. Eventually, they will know that you are a brand with integrity.
2. Embrace Listicles
Listicles refer to articles that appear in form of a list. They are the easiest way to capture the attention of your audience since it triggers curiosity.
So, how can you make your listicle headline stand out? Well, first write a few sample titles and see which one will provoke the most engagement and interaction from people.
TIP: Did you know that incorporating numbers is one of the widely known headline hacks? A study was performed by Conductor to prove how effective numbers were when writing compelling headlines. See the chart:
Here are two examples:
Another trick that makes a click-worthy headline is the use of Who, What, Where, How and Why. Here's why it works: People love to scour the web for answers to questions and problems they want to resolve. How-to content articles are usually the first ones they seek for and this encourages more clicks from users.
3. Use Debate-Based Titles
Creating controversy can be a good thing as readers are encouraged to discuss the issue especially when they have varying opinions. According to CopyBlogger, eight of ten people will read a title, but just two of ten readers will continue reading the article. This is why it is imperative to put a huge emphasis on headlines.
Do note though that while sensational titles that spark debate can definitely improve click rates, it is very important to follow it through with content. Make sure that the title is as interesting as the actual article or else you risk alienating your audience. Being relevant is crucial to long-term success so make sure that you keep this in mind when creating titles.
4. Do Keyword Research
Expert Digital Marketers like Alexis Grant rely on keyword research and her knowledge in SEO when writing catchy headlines and producing articles. She focuses on keywords that her audience is already searching for.
Keywords are helpful tools for search engines to find relevant content online. You need to choose words that are performing well for your website to rank well. If you incorporate words or phrases that do not make sense, chances are you won't generate as much traffic as you would like. This is why keywords should be chosen carefully when coming up with a headline.
Titles should also have a sharing potential and readability. This is for users to share your content across their social media channels. The more visitors your website has, the higher its direct traffic will be. So, if you want your headlines to get the attention of your readers, consider doing keyword research.
These are the tools we recommend for keyword research:
- Social Report's Keyword Monitoring, which lets you keep an eye on trending topics, discover trends and identify opportunities across social media networks. It will monitor both keywords and hashtags you set up. It will also give you complete control of how searches are determined and conducted.
- Google Trends lets you compare and choose specific keywords as it enables you to see the latest trends, data, and visualizations. You can even search for keywords, subjects, and phrases that have been queried over a period of time.
- Keyword Planner allows you to find new keyword ideas for your social media campaigns relevant to your brand or business. This tool will show you the statistics such the search frequency or volume data for these keywords to help you decide whether you are going to incorporate them in your title.
5. Appeal To People With Emotion
Your headlines should create an emotional connection with your readers. We're not talking about expressing sentiments or opinions publicly in exchange for loyalty and readership.
What we mean to say by appealing to people is that you should be able to identify what type of emotions works best with the type of audience that you have. Why? It's because people respond better when you incorporate specific words that trigger emotional responses in your content.
Examples from The Persuasive Revolution:
- Trying to get someone agree with you
What you want to do is to evoke empathy so that they will be able to see the situation from your point of view
- Trying to get people to read your content
You should use words that will evoke their curiosity. Since people are innately curious, this forces them to click on your link and read your piece.
- Trying to sell people your products or solution
Find a way that will evoke desire. You can do so by making them imagine how good their future will be when they have this product or solution by their side.
Do you see how powerful words are now? Just imagine what it would be like if you produce a headline using trigger words to make that emotional connection with your readers. It would definitely improve your persuasive power and your ability to engage your audience.
BONUS: Here are over 400 words that trigger emotional responses on social media.
6. Keep It Short
How long should a headline be? Do you want to know the right length for posts to Twitter, Facebook, and search engines for the best impact possible?
For Twitter, it's 100 characters. There's no "perfect length" for a Tweet, but there was a report done by Buddy Media that revealed that Tweets that have 70 up to 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate. So, please avoid maximizing the use of 140 character limit.
For Facebook, 40 is the magic number. Jeff Bullas found out that 40-character posts received 86% higher engagement than others and that posts with 80 characters received 66% lower engagement. As for search engines, your best bet is to keep it around the 70-character mark at the most for your website to get indexed.
A longer headline might be helpful in some cases, but if you're someone who is relying on the headline to show up on the search results page and not look like it was cut off, then your best bet is to keep your title at 70-character mark at the most.
7. Refer To Your Audience
Referring to your audience means using keywords like "you" or "you're" in headlines. Why do this? Because it immediately makes your audience feel like they're being directly spoken to and captures their attention. This triggers a natural reaction in the brain, essentially making the reader think "that piece of content is for me!".
People are naturally always on the lookout for solutions to problems, as well. So when "you're" is used in the below example like "The Best Google Docs Features You're Probably Not Using", that doubles down on a response within someone, making them want to click on that content to see what problems those Google Docs features can help them solve.
You can create a click-worthy and shareable headline without using clickbait. The tips above are tried and tested to increase engagement from users so try it out and see for yourself. Clickbait may get you the numbers that you want and while traffic is indeed an important metric, brands, in general, need to focus on deeper engagement to make a difference.
The golden rule of journalism is to find a great headline to catch the readers' attention, but advertisers must make sure not to cross the line into clickbait. All content – whether inspiring, useful, or entertaining – has to prioritize engagement over anything else.