As much as we'd like to deny it, we've all done it. You, me and everyone with a pulse and an Internet connection has clicked on "clickbait". The bottom-feeding scourge of social networks and mainstream news sites alike, clickbait articles lull their victims into zombie-like compliance through the use of numbered lists, pointless quizzes and empty nostalgia to attract instantly regrettable clicks.
If you've ever clicked on a clever headline like "12 Facts You Won't Believe Are Really True" or "Check Out These 37 Pictures of Dogs Wearing Dentures" or "These 8 Celebrities Had WHAT Job Before They Got Famous?", you've clicked on clickbait. And you've probably regretted it.
So why is clickbait so regrettable? The real problem is the empty content it promotes. Like a chocolate donut wrapped in bacon, it seems appealing at first glance but greatly disappoints upon consumption. Fortunately for us all, Google is on the case.
There's been a recent online revolt against content sources that don’t hold the attention of readers. Facebook began the trend in 2014 when it started cracking down on "clickbaiting headlines" linking to content that people didn't want to consume or share. A year later, Google launched a "phantom" algorithm update targeting "thin" content including clickbait articles, pages of stacked videos and content that was difficult for users to navigate.
This clickbait clampdown makes perfect sense. Google (and Facebook for that matter) have to reward content that delights their customers and punish content that lets them down. It's only good for business. So while algorithms once highly rewarded clicks alone, now what really matters is how your visitors actually interact with your site's content.
Are your customers finding what they're looking for? Or are they clicking once and quickly leaving? If it's the latter, it's time to take a second look at your content.
You Won’t Believe These 5 Amazing Content Tips (#3 Will Shock You!)
Today, creating unique and relevant content is key. From images to video to short and long-form copy, the more original you can make your content the better. Looking for a few pointers?
Follow these five tips to make your content more impactful:
1) Understand your customers and their needs. By really knowing your customers, you can develop unique and helpful messaging that resonates with them – not just a search algorithm.
2) Find your voice. If you do curate some content, make sure to give proper attribution – and also add a few thoughts to make it your own. It's always important for your brand’s voice to shine through.
3) Don't use clickbait. There’s nothing wrong with creating clever and engaging copy. Just make sure it provides real value for your customers.
4) Write more if needed. The value of short articles is starting to wane from an SEO perspective. These days longer articles (between 1,200 to 1,500) words tend to get more traffic and rank higher. They also get shared and linked to more often.
5) Think mobile first. Most of your customers will probably access your content from a mobile device, so break up long paragraphs, use bullet points where possible and add photos, captions or call-outs to improve the visual flow.
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