Get off your high-horse. You only hate clickbait headlines ‘cos you wish you wrote ’em!

August 5, 2015 •
Feature image for clickbait headlines post

Clickbait, schmickbait!

I hate the term.

All web headlines should be clickbait. That’s their whole fucking point. If they don’t get people to click, they’re not doing their job.

Calling them clickbait is like calling newspaper headlines ‘keepreadingbait’!

Of course, I understand ‘clickbait’ is a label for a particular style of headline, usually associated with a particular sort of destination page. Like these from ViralNova (click to zoom):

Examples of clickbait headlines

But the only thing about these headlines I hate is Their Use Of Title Case. Even For Function Words.

I reckon the elitists and grammar nazis hate them purely because they’re so effective. It’s all about jealousy.

Well, maybe not all about jealousy. We do see way too many of them. So I agree, they’re a little boring. But I still click…

And yes, I agree, they usually link to ho-hum articles or videos, or sites that make you click 20 times to see the whole piece. Like this one on Egokick...

Clickbait headline example about movies

…  which shows only 4 examples at a time, so you have to click 4 times (and wait for 5 pages to load).

Example of the type of page that clickbait headlines usually invoke

Or, worse, they link to pages that make you click through one at a time, only to find out that the wardrobe malfunction image that caught your eye in the first place isn’t even part of the story!

But all of that’s a problem with the content, not the style headline. I know it’s hard to separate the two, but as writers, we should be able to.

And I’m completely OK with the style of headline. Of course that doesn’t mean I’d use it when writing copy for a lawyer, but only because it would have the wrong connotations.

And now I have to work.

Feel free to comment...
comment avatar
Jack wrote on August 5th, 2015

I've been accused of click-bait titles, most recently with this piece: http://libertyupward.com/officer-hughson-arrests-videographer-in-35-seconds-for-not-talking/ It was irritating because, as you correctly point out, a good headline is going to fundamentally be about getting the reader to....read! Some people can't seem to distinguish between an evocative or catchy headline, and "clickbait".

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comment avatar
Glenn Murray wrote on August 5th, 2015

Very strange. That appears like a simple (but shocking) statement of fact. Not what most people refer to as clickbait.

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comment avatar
James wrote on August 12th, 2015

Most who dislike clickbait headlines will never write a headline in their lives. The main reason people dislike them is that they make your day worse.

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Glenn Murray wrote on August 13th, 2015

I suppose my post does reflect my network a bit. I'm friends with a lot of people who do write headlines. For those who don't, all I can say is they must have very delicate sensibilities if a clickbait headline makes their day worse... ;-)

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