How Does Clickbait Work?

You won’t believe this crazy news! You will absolutely lose your freaking mind once you read it! Are you ready? Clickbait creates an itch you must scratch. We often connect clickbait with misinformation and try to avoid clickbait whenever possible, but why is it so tempting?

What is Clickbait?

Clickbait is designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink that often leads to misleading content created solely by earning page views on a website. Clickbait language is more emotional than informational, meant to spark curiosity or other strong emotions that lead you to click the link. Clickbait appears in many formats, like blog posts, banner ads, and SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) ads. Here are some examples of misleading titles:

  • “You’ll Never Believe…”
  • “X Things You Need to Know!”
  • “X Reasons Why…”
  • “Get instant results from doing X!”

Why Are We Suckers For Clickbait?

Humans are “hardwired” to seek out information. Clickbait is the promise that shocking information will be revealed if we click that link. Clickbait works because the promise of compelling information activates a particular Dopamine pathway. Dopamine is released and creates that itch that can only be scratched by obtaining the promised information. Many TV shows end in cliffhangers for this reason.

How Can I Resist the Temptation?

Resisting temptation is difficult because it exploits the neural circuitry that evolved over millions of years. Neuroscientists and psychologists work in marketing because they know how to exploit these neural circuits. Resisting clickbait is like resisting a bag of delicious potato chips when they’re set in front of you. You have to have that salty treat, and you end up eating the whole bag…or going down a clickbait rabbit hole of random information about celebrities.

  1. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall for the clickbait trap because everyone has fallen for it at one time or another.
  2. It causes us to waste time and can reduce productivity, but it won’t ruin your life.
  3. Notice your patterns and replace them with adaptive ones. If you fall down the YouTube wormhole daily, actively change your direction. Is it serving a purpose? If not, relieve your boredom in other ways like:
    • Go for a walk around the block or building
    • Check-in with a friend or your partner
    • Finish a task you’ve been putting off
    • Get some coffee or tea

Is Clickbait Bad?

If you’re a business owner or have a personal blog, you want to create content that draws people to your website. Google now knows more about your website’s content than ever. If your webpage’s title, headings, and URL aren’t relevant to its content, Google might penalize you, which can impact your ratings. Clickbait can also affect your:

  • Digital PR: Your brand reputation could suffer in the long run if your website is known for using ridiculous claims and headlines to lure traffic.
  • Bounce Rate: When a person clicks through to your site and finds it useless, they’ll more likely “bounce” away from your site.

Be Like Indiana Jones and Run From the Traps!

Using clickbait is tempting when you want to boost your brand-new website or blog, but it can damage your SEO and Authority rating in the long run. If you need to do more digital marketing but need help figuring out what to do, contact Post Launch today! We are a group of friendly weirdos that want to watch you and your business grow and succeed!

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