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How Clickbait Links Plus Teaser Headings Impact SEO Marketing

In these streets of digital online web and content marketing, Clickbait Links is not a very new term. Surprisingly, according to loganix, clickbait-style headlines took the internet by storm with the rise of sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy too. In particular, both of which leveraged a uniquely sensationalist style in an attempt to get more links and traffic. Here’s a bigger question.

Does the clickbait links technique still have any relevance in getting more traffic and improved rankings, or is best left in the trashbin of history? Well, according to a research article by K Munger (2018), he notes that “Clickbait” has become a dominant form of online media, with headlines de- signed to entice people to click becoming the norm. So, how far is far enough?

Of course, the propensity to consume clickbait is not evenly distributed across relevant political demographics. Thus, the present study presents the results of a pair of experiments, specifically, done by K Munger. One: Using Facebook ads — that explicitly target people with a high preference for clickbait. Two: Using recruit samples from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

With an estimate of subjects’ individual-level preference for clickbait research. And, randomly assigning some to read clickbait or traditional headlines. Whereby, older people and non-Democrats have a higher “preference for clickbaits.” But, no evidence that assignment to read clickbait headlines drives affective polarization, information retention, or trust in media.

What Clickbait Links Are All About In Digital Online Web

In terms of marketing, Clickbait Links are a form technique that makes use of styled headlines and anchor texts to encourage potential web users to click on them. And, while there are plenty of different ways you could go about crafting clickbait links, they tend to be sensationalist — somewhat misleading, and written with the aim of getting as many clicks as possible.

As you’ll see, styled headline titles tend to share a similar style, characterized by superfluous words and the promise of revealing something shocking or a big secret. And, as much as most of us have been desensitized to this particular type of target-based user clickbait links — after learning that content titles often don’t match the promise — you’ll still see them.

For sure, in order to be on the same boat, as a matter of fact, there are a variety of examples where typical clickbait links are used as style-headline links with quite unsusceptible titles. With that in mind, allow us to list just a few of them below.

Consider the following sample titles:
  • 10 Common Design Mistakes To Avoid
  • 30 Unbelievable Facts You Won’t Believe
  • 50 Random Things People Do To Get Rich
  • You Won’t Believe This Guy’s Reaction!
  • How To Become Rich In An OverNight

In nutshell, clickbait links tend to use a specific set of words and phrases, which can potentially look spammy to Google since they’ve been used so many times before. This means, that those links may potentially pass less link juice than they otherwise would, or even hurt your SEO rankings. So, is there any SEO benefit to be gained from using clickbait links as part of the plan?

Well, we’ll discuss that and much more in a bit. As well as some of the most common problems that you may face as a creative content marketer, an SEO webmaster, or even a website owner — that’s if you constantly employ clickbait links in your website marketing strategy. Like getting your site removed from Google’s search console and other SERP results as well.

Moving on, it’s worth mentioning that clickbait isn’t always necessarily deceptive. It can also be truthful, but a bit exaggerated or sensationalized. If a few clickbait links are used here and there — especially on appropriate websites as part of a broader link profile — they’re likely not something to be worried about. We’ll see how clickbait links affect SEO later on.

The Origins: Clickbait Links Media Campaigns

Trust in the news media has been declining steadily ever since the 1970s, especially among conservatives. This same time period has seen a rise in “affective polarization”— the extent to which Republicans and Democrats dislike and distrust each other. Cultural and technological changes in the media environment have been theorized as causes of the latter trend.

Particularly, with an increasingly fragmented political news industry able to target niche political audiences. As well as the increasing range of entertainment options and decline of incidental exposure to the nightly news pushing low-political-interest moderates out of the electorate. Over the past twenty years, the news industry has increasingly become online news.

The economic model of the contemporary online news industry is distinct from print journalism. Although a small number of publications are financed by subscription revenue (the New York Times gets 60% of its revenue from subscriptions. And, the primary business model is based on click-based advertisements. Competition comes from trying to attract readers’ eyeballs.

This clickbait business model was first embraced by Gawker, a brash new media firm — that explicitly gamified the competition for clicks in 2008. Whilst, paying writers bonuses based on pageviews. And installing a “big board” that ranked its highest-performing stories in real-time. The reality is that: Gawker primarily aimed to attract clicks by writing salacious stories.

Resource Reference: Editorial Links | Simple Steps To Acquire Free Natural Backlinks

Still, the concept of “clickbait” is better yet associated with another digital media upstart: Upworthy — the “fastest-growing media site of all time.” It implemented a new style of headline designed to entice consumption by strategically withholding information. Barely two years after its founding in March 2012 — by Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley, it had gained a lot.

Upworthy had over 80 million unique visitors each month — more than the New York Times or Washington Post. In November 2013, however, Facebook announced that it would penalize deceptive headlines in its ranking algorithm, and within a year, Upworthy ’s business collapsed. In November 2014, the site had only 20 million unique visitors up for grabs.

Notably, in the following year, Merriam-Webster added the term “clickbait” to its dictionary. Whilst, defining it as “something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink. Especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.”

The Culprit: Content SEO Audit And Marketing Baits

Simply put, the conception of clickbait may ager a very negative connotation, characterized by something like regret — that’s if a consumer of clickbait stopped to think about their decision to click on such a story. Otherwise, they would probably not do so. However, this definition, clearly, is out of date; Facebook was able to detect this form of deceptive clickbait technique.

In particular, by looking for instances in which users clicked a link and then quickly closed it, and then it penalized internet media firms that employed it. A more concerning form of clickbait is one that appeals directly to people’s fears. Especially as it relates to a threat to a social group to which they belong. We propose to define this type as an emotional clickbait headline.

Precisely, a clickbait headline that is designed to appeal directly and explicitly to the emotions of the reader. This form of clickbait serves the twin purposes of inducing excitement by appealing to group competition — something that’s easily spread among online social networks, which tends to be homophilous.

Emotional clickbait — when the news is about politics or the relevant social groups are politically relevant — is also more concerning to political scientists than the straightforwardly deceptive information gap clickbait headline. Obviously, because of its capacity to polarize and create separate epistemic communities.

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There is the additional concern that all forms of clickbait erode public trust in the news media. Since the heyday of broadcast journalism, the news media has consistently been shifting away from hard news. And, towards soft news or confrontational opinions on hard news in order to meet audience demand. As a result, this shift leads to a decrease in trust in news media.

On the other hand, this same shift caused increases in political knowledge too. Whereby, soft news attracted an audience that would have previously ignored news altogether. Although cable news/opinion programming boosts factual knowledge retention by increasing audience arousal. Let’s hypothesize about randomly reading stories with emotional clickbait headlines.

Eventually, it would exacerbate affective polarization, decrease trust in online news, and increase information retention; in every case — but there are no observable effects. However, we theorize that age and digital literacy are two crucial moderators of online behavior like the propensity to consume clickbait news — web tracking data demonstrates otherwise.

How Clickbait Links Can Influence SEO 

The power of a backlink to improve your SEO rankings generally comes down to the domain authority of the linking website on which it appears, the relevance of the website to your industry or niche, whether or not that link appears natural and organic, and whether it improves the user experience. Even Google’s algorithm aims to give searchers the best possible results.

Generally, whenever they enter a query into its search bar to get some results. Not forgetting, one of the ways that Search Engines like Google and Bing determine which content is worth serving at the top of the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) is through their unique website crawling bots. More so, by evaluating the number of high-quality backlinks that content has.

Particularly, a search engine like Google and Bing strongly favors natural-sounding anchor text and flows in the context in which it appears. Using keywords in the anchor text used to be considered a good standard practice, but nowadays, having the same keywords appear in your backlink profile too many times can actually make those links look artificial.

Bear in mind, that frequent use of highly misrepresentative clickbait links has a major potential to affect SEO results. For one thing, it can get your website removed from the major SERPs (like Google’s search results) without even any prior warnings.

Overall Potential For Website Traffic Boost 

Of course, besides influencing a strategic marketing campaign results, there may be some other special perks to using clickbait links, but they’re not really SEO perks. After all, it’s just Clickbait, not SEO bait. This style became as ubiquitous as it was in the 2010s that it succeeded in its primary goal, to get clicks. Rather than boosting the organic search rankings.

Eventually, a well-planned and well-balanced clickbait links strategy can drive some adequate website traffic results in some way. But, this will only work if it can get people curious enough to click on a certain link as per the headline title. However, if the content that appears after the link is clicked is too different from what the link promised, users will immediately click away.

This means, that such an approach to headline writing can be used to increase the number of clicks your content gets, provided that it is not misleading. For example, let’s consider a sample case such as an interior design website blog, right? Suffice it to say, one of its blogs could use a title like “ 5 Ways To Transform Your Kitchen On A Thin Budget” in one of its posts.

And, as you can see, this headline title taps into clickbait-style language quite effectively — it introduces a listicle and promises to reveal a big secret. Perse, in that case, as long as the content really does contain 5 useful kitchen design tips, it shouldn’t result in a high bounce rate.

The Main Clickbait Links Marketing Strategy Downsides

One thing is for sure, as much as engaging clickbait links can be in terms of any given target marketing campaign, they can also be perceived as dishonest (both by SERPs and other credible SEO webmasters). Simply, because it’s a style that’s associated with tabloid-style headlines, which might not be the real brand presence reputation you’re trying to develop.

Equally important, since clickbait links can come off as gimmicky, they can erode the audience’s trust in your business. Understandably, most search engines are also not fans of misleading clickbait links and styled headlines. Obviously, these links often look like yet another bad SEO attempt — gaming the system out and getting unwarranted attention.

Not to mention, websites that abuse the key set SEO practices and ranking strategies and instead opt for clickbait links don’t tend to survive that long on the likes of Google and Bing for too long. This, therefore, means that the risk of potentially getting de-indexed is a major concern to consider — that’s before using these clickbait links and styled headline titles on your site.

The quick summary downsides include:
  • It’s preferably seen by SERPs as a misleading strategy
  • You can easily and quickly get booted off SERP ranking algorithms
  • Most of the leading content SEO webmasters won’t advocate for it

What’s more, every clickbait word you use in your headings is just taking space away from more descriptive keywords — key terms that you actually want to rank for. Thus, realistically, from any SEO webmaster’s perspective, this seems like a very counterproductive approach. Always stick to the best SEO practices and move your web business brand from the ground up.

What To Do Now And Onwards: The Best Practices

Even though we have seen how harmful clickbait links can be to your overall marketing campaign plan, there are some ways you can become successful. To incorporate the clickbait-style into your links effectively — as long as you do so in moderation. By following a few best practices you can still stay in SERPs’ good graces. But, be very mindful not to veer into spam territory.

Always remember, it’s just clickbait, not an ambiguous clickbait-and-switch marketing scheme. That said, you should absolutely never use a redirect link in any of your backlinks. The webpage that people land on when clicking your link should match their intention. So, when executing an SEO plan that delivers real results, clickbait links shouldn’t be on your to-do list.

Oftentimes, even the pop culture reference and listicle format borrow from the clickbait formula. But, it’s also easy to understand what the content will contain, and there doesn’t have to be any misleading o the reader for it to work. That said, below are a few more tips that you can utilize for your strategic clickbait links marketing campaign plan to bear success.

Use lists plus big reveal heading teasers

Speaking of lists, this online article format used to be strongly associated with Buzzfeed and other infamous clickbait sites has become ubiquitous for good reason. It’s easy to read and lends itself to scanning and short attention spans. This is an example of something borrowed from clickbait that clearly worked well enough for serious websites to use as well.

Again, a big reveal teaser should be done without being misleading or dishonest. On that note, one way to create an irresistible clickbait link is by offering to reveal some information that your audience is highly motivated to learn. For example, some sort of business bloggers might want to create a piece of content called “How We Reached 1M Monthly Visitors.”

However, to some extent, this kind of content should also try to be accompanied by proof and actionable advice. And by doing so, the “big reveal” type of heading strategy can definitely get you more clicks. Sometimes you may see people ironically using clickbait headings. As a matter of fact, this is something that can lead to great engagement as long as it isn’t deceptive.

Be truthful, focus on quality, and original content

Even if you borrow language from clickbait articles for your links and heading, make sure you’re still accurately and truthfully representing your content. Failing to do this means misleading your audience, which is a great way to abuse their trust and get in trouble with Google. And, as we aforementioned, it’s just clickbait, not a clickbait-and-switch kind of content strategy.

Absolutely, you should never use a redirect link in any of your backlinks. The webpage that people land on when clicking your link should match their intention. Moving on, the next thing is to focus more on quality as well as original content form. Whilst, keeping in mind, that a clickbait-style title may get you some extra clicks, yes but it won’t keep visitors around.

In that case, the only way to do that successfully is through the use of quality content. That’s ultimately what will engage your audience and give you the chance of getting more organic backlinks. However, coupled with awesome content, a playful heading that borrows from the clickbait lexicon can perform well.

Always pay some attention to your bounce rate

Markedly, if your bounce rate is too high on content that has a clickbait title, it’s probably an indication that your heading doesn’t match the content well enough. Reword it so that people get the content they’re expecting when they click. But even as you do so, don’t expect your SEO to improve overnight (after all, a quality content SEO audit takes time for results to mature).

Having said that, clickbait links really shouldn’t be created with search optimization in mind. Other kinds of links, such as links in guest posts, are far more effective for this purpose, so it’s better to focus on those. You might use clickbait-style language to get clicks on your content on social media, for example, but the primary benefit wouldn’t be SEO.

Last but not least, make sure that you leverage popular trends. One effective way to use clickbait without treading into spam territory is to use trendy phrases from pop culture. People will get a chuckle and hopefully pause long enough to click on your content. For example, during peak Game of Thrones mania, the “winter is coming” meme proliferated all over the internet.

At the same time, for some brands, it made perfect sense to use this phrase in their titles. An autobody shop could create a listicle called “Winter Is Coming: 10 Ways To Winterproof Your Car.”

Takeaway Thoughts:

In simple terms, a clickbait strategy can draw clicks wherever it appears, whether it’s in Google search results, on social medial profiles, or as a link somewhere else on the web. However, in order to actually get benefit from it in the form of meaningful traffic, it shouldn’t be too misleading. Instead of clickbait, focus on optimized content and high-authority site links.

Chiefly, borrowing a few tricks from the clickbait content strategy can help you craft engaging content that people are enticed to click on. So, having said that, are you ready to take your website to new heights? Well, you can let our content SEO webmasters do all the heavy lifting for you. So that you can focus your efforts on the other priority parts of your brand.

That’s it! Everything that you needed to know about clickbait links in marketing and how it influences SEO plus a few other memorable benefits and downsides. Now it’s your turn! We’d like to turn it over to you to spark a debate or lead a new discussion in our comments section. And now, as such, there are a few questions that we’d be so glad if you answered them…

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