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Content vs. Clickbait

You’ve been seeing the problem first hand for years, maybe you’ve even contributed to it. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. There’s no shame in it, it’s just the way the industry has been going for a while now.

Content promotion, and the clicks it grants you, is key to running a successful content marketing effort. But the real truth is that content promotion doesn’t get much farther than clickbait these days.

Content marketing is addicted to clicks

Web advertising payment structures have created a content economy that rewards clicks over all other kinds of engagement. On some level, everyone involved is aware of this. Content strategies are focused almost exclusively on getting clicks, and much less concerned with whether or not the people actually stick around to read the content.

So do they stick around and read the content? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be no. Time went into detail on this, asserting that the average reader only stays on a given piece of content for about fifteen seconds before bouncing. Think back… does this sound like you? (if you’re still reading this, you might not fit into this statistic)

So how can you promote your content while also encouraging engagement for longer than that dreaded fifteen seconds? Remember these three rules:

Don’t surprise anyone

At its root, clickbait is a bit like false advertising. Just like that “one weird trick” isn’t actually going to help you lose 40 pounds overnight, clickbait makes promises that the content pretty obviously does not deliver, causing the bounce.

To get your bounce rate down, make sure that you’re not overselling with your headlines. Make sure that your title is, while interesting and intriguing, doesn’t write a check that your content can’t cash. Make sure you images are all properly sized to keep pageloads quick (an image resizer can help with this). You’ll find that making your titles truer to your content increases your engagement, lowers your bounce, and brings more high-quality traffic to your site.

Write for engagement

It can be tempting to blow your great ideas in the first few paragraphs of your content. But really good content follows a natural storytelling arc, one that saves some of the good stuff for the end, to reward engagement. Take your cues from real journalists and writers here, and structure your content in a way that rewards engagement with the entire piece, not just the headline.

Build—and maintain—user trust

Whatever you do, once you’ve started down this road, you can’t give up on it even for a moment. It’s easy to lose your readers’ trust, and that’s what is going to drive engagement. If people see you as a source of high quality content, they will trust you to stay interesting, and invest some real attention into your content.

If you stop rewarding their engagement, say by providing them with a few pieces of low quality content in a row, you will quickly lose their trust, and they’ll start going somewhere else. Don’t squander your good name just for a few clicks. It’s not worth spending brand trust to get a bunch of cheap traffic that won’t convert at all, a fact that is worth keeping in mind.