Every blogger, newspaper editor or publisher wants to attract visitors to their website, but at what cost? Whilst most publications tend to only provide relevant content through their sites, others have turned to an unsavoury tactic known as ‘click baiting’ in order to draw in more readers. Clickbait refers to the practice of presenting catchy headlines to readers which don’t actually represent the content which they are linked to. Clickbait headlines encourage people to click by promising a big payoff, but don’t actually deliver on expectations.
Why Use Click Bait?
The main reason that newspaper websites use clickbait tactics is to draw in unsuspecting web users for the purpose of advertising. They think that once a user is on their site after clicking on the bait, it’s an opportunity to bombard them with ads in the hope that those will also be clicked on. Clickbait is also often used in order to increase traffic numbers to a certain level, making it seem like the site has more organic visits than it actually does. In addition, the hope is that users will continue to read other stories and click on further ads once they are on the site. Many newspaper sites provide additional clickbait on a clickbait story in the hope that the user will cycle through.
How Does This Affect Online Users?
Whilst the use of clickbait may serve to bring in more visitors, the end result is that your website’s credibility is damaged. Once you have disappointed a user, it’s very likely that they will simply leave the site without clicking on anything else – and what’s worse, they’ll probably avoid your site altogether in the future. Pair this with negative word-of-mouth advertising, and you have a recipe for disaster. The bottom line is that fooling users does not amount to new subscribers – in fact, quite the opposite.
What’s Being Done About It?
In addition to the newspaper industry keeping itself in check, a number of social media sites have taken steps in order to reduce the amount of clickbait stories displayed. Perhaps the most notable measure taken is that Facebook has recently changed its algorithm to measure how long readers will stay on a link that they have clicked on. Links which do not receive long visits are then downgraded, and shown less than links which receive longer visits and are deemed to be more popular with users and therefore more credible. The new algorithm also additionally takes into consideration the amount of likes and shares that a particular link receives when determining its importance.
Although using clickbait may seem to be a quick solution for bringing in more traffic, the fact is that the alternatives have a far better lasting result. By providing readers with content that delivers and provides engagement and value, you are much more likely to gain new subscribers as well as protect the reputation of your newspaper or site. This approach may take longer to gain the desired result than using clickbait, however it pays off greater in the long run.
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