Click Bait Headlines — The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Sometimes clever, often misleading, and 100% distracting, you can now barely navigate the internet without coming across them…

I’m talking about clickbait headlines.

I’m not quite sure when it started, but in the last years, clickbait headlines, the likes found on Viralnova, Upworthy, Elite Daily, or even Buzzfeed, have become the norm for headlines.

Here are some examples…

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Don't they make you want to CLICK?

Here's The Good

You draw audience interest–you actually get clicks with nothing more than just a creative way of spinning what could be a mundane topic.

Check out these clickbait examples from one of the most popular sites out there today–


Not to say that all clickbait headlines deliver what they promise. I mean, admit it, you’ve probably clicked on a couple of those, only to get disappointed (most of the time, probably) at how irrelevant the actual content was.


Now The Bad

While you do get a lot of curiosity clicks, it’s not the only thing that you want for your website. What is the point of thousands of curiosity clicks if all of them have very low time-on-site and high bounce rates?

Unless your clickbait headline is supported by content that actually resonates with your readers or users, it’s likely that anyone who finds themselves clicking on your link will just exit.


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At its worst, clickbait headlines can detract from what you have to say. Sure it works to get attention, but at what cost? In fact, Facebook now penalizes it.

Which Leads To The Ugly

Fact is, clickbait headlines aren’t so shiny and new anymore. The startling headlines aren’t so startling when every other thing on the Internet claims to be.

Clickbait was good when it was different and unique. But because everyone is doing it now, it has led to some social media platforms like Facebook actually penalizing it; because while they play on curiosity, the clicks that you’re getting aren’t actually qualified traffic.

As an Internet Marketer, you have an opportunity to be creative and come up with headlines that compel your visitors to click. Just be sure you’re being honest and providing content that delivers on the promise the headline teases.

Remember, a good headline doesn’t just get clicks. It gets the RIGHT CLICKS. The right clicks convert. At the end of the day… that’s your goal.

Tracking Clicks

Clickbait or not, it is important for all marketers to track clicks on headlines that drive traffic to their websites. This is extremely important if you're spending money on advertisements and would like to know which headlines are bringing in the most traffic, most leads, and most revenue.

Proper traffic attribution is a critical component to maximizing your investments and optimizing your funnels.

We recently launched Measurement Marketing Academy where you can learn proper traffic attribution and other strategies for you to earn more money by understanding your marketing numbers better (Hint: You can try it out for 30 days for $1 if you join today).


– Mercer

About The Author


Chris Mercer, who typically goes by "Mercer", has a sales and marketing background that stretches over 20 years. He began his online marketing career in 2009 and has become a sought after analytics & conversions expert, helping other top-marketers to improve their own offers and sales funnels. Now decades of real-world experience are brought to you post-by-post as he delivers Seriously Simple Marketing tips that you can use to build your own business!


  • shane sorensen

    Reply Reply January 5, 2016

    Im trying to learn more about how to create headline for my blog that drive more traffic. Thanks for this article, it gave me some examples of what to do, and what not to do!

    • Jodi Bourne

      Reply Reply January 22, 2016

      I’m glad you found it useful Shane!

    • Brian

      Reply Reply August 9, 2016

      How about having genuinely useful and interesting content and letting the traffic grow organically?
      Works for Maddox.

      • Mercer

        Reply Reply August 25, 2016

        Absolutely agree. The tendency is to get caught up with strategy, tips, and tactics… but at the end of the day it’s all about the offer. If the offer is good, even crap marketing works.

  • Antonina

    Reply Reply July 23, 2016

    A good headline is very essential for increasing CTR.i agree with you that The right clicks convert. At the end of the day
    Clickbait gets a bad rap. Often, that’s deserved. People go too far, making exaggerative claims that can’t possibly be true. The end result annoys readers, which can backfire and erode brand credibility

    • Mercer

      Reply Reply July 23, 2016

      Totally agree that a great headline is needed. As you said, it’s when it’s misleading that is moves into “clickbait” and annoys people. Great copywriting is definitely an art!

  • Steve

    Reply Reply July 27, 2016

    Today’s pathetic “journalism” would make its former superb practitioners roll over in their graves. I don’t even read newspapers anymore, nor do I watch television. I won’t take a bath in garbage.

    • Mercer

      Reply Reply August 8, 2016

      Don’t blame you! Did you catch the Jon Oliver episode from 8/7/16? He ran a whole piece on the new state of journalism… a GREAT parody on the sad state of affairs.

  • Aldous

    Reply Reply December 8, 2016

    People just shouldn’t write titles like this at all. It’s just ugly and empty, you know the article it links to is probably worthless. These are cheap tactics, lengthy, lazy, vague and say nothing about what article has to say, usually because it actually has nothing to say.

    • Mercer

      Reply Reply December 8, 2016

      That’s definitely true in almost all cases. They’re in a tough spot… especially those that write great content… because their headlines need to compete too. At the end of the day, the better the content, the better the sites will do in the long run!

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