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Clickbait and Why It’s Best to Avoid It on Your Blog

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According to TechCrunch “Clickbaiting is the intentional act of over-promising or otherwise misrepresenting — in a headline, on social media, in an image, or some combination — what you’re going to find when you read a story on the web.”

Clickbait’s not new. “Yellow Journalism,” as it was called in the late 1800s was common. Newspapers and literary publications fought tooth and nail to outwit, or out-scandalize each other by delivering racy news. Much of the content offered wasn’t true, and the rest was embellished to draw in punters.

As much is at stake now as in earlier decades. You might attract eager-eyed readers, keen to peruse who did what and when – even though they know such news is tainted. However, your reputation is on the line. Unless you can build a serious business from tittle-tattle, clickbait is best left alone. Here’s what makes it a bad idea.

Readers don’t forget

You may think it is fun to enter the world of clickbait and gather a fresh audience for your blog or magazine. When you want to get down to business, though, and ditch the drama and exaggerated stories, you’ll find yourself in a rut.

Salacious gossip and outlandish articles that don’t deliver what they promise are deemed low quality, and no one will want to buy your wares or take you seriously. Readers will consider you untrustworthy.

If you want quality readers, you must contribute quality content.

There’s no denying clickbait attracts plenty of page views. You can double, maybe triple your audience in a short time span with sensational fodder. In that sense, it works. The people you attract, though, might not be the audience you want.

Quality readership is attracted by quality content. Original articles offering valuable data pull in a different audience to clickbait. Shady content is short-lived and doesn’t give readers anything to take away. Worthwhile content makes people think or gives them information to improve their well-being.

How to avoid clickbait.

Make sure article titles and the content beneath them match, so you don’t promise something you fail to deliver. Assurances like “here’s how I make $5000 a week sitting on my couch eating chips” is fine if the statement’s true and you really tell people how to do the same. If the title’s bait to lure readers to click on a link or read a non-related article, however, you aren’t offering useful, honest content.

Similarly, select pictures to go with titles carefully. If you use a photograph of a frightened homeless child sat in a gutter, it must portray the subject of your story. Likewise, pictures of scantily clad women, fast cars, or fistfuls of money are objectionable if the articles that go with them are unrelated.

Sometimes clickbait’s humorous, but use it on your blog or in your periodical and you won’t laugh for long. You’ll attract poor quality readership and gain a reputation for low value articles. Stick to worthwhile, original content with data that changes the reader’s lives and you’ll gamer a quality audience.

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