How to Write Click-Worthy Titles Without Being Clickbait and Alienating Your Reader

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When catching up on social media or the news, far too often we end up clicking on clickbait titles only to find the content is completely irrelevant from the headline and the article is a complete bust.

Clickbait is when a title is written that makes you want to click and read the post. The example below makes us go, “WHAT IS THE REAL REASON Costco’s hot dogs are $1.50?!” Inquiring minds must click to find out. It’s not because they’re made of pig lips (even though they probably are), it’s because Costco feels that cheap prices attract customers. Wamp wamp.

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Clickbait is annoying, right? Your audience thinks so, too.

A title is most often the reason why readers are interested in your content. Sure, clickbait may be effective at increasing the number of clicks you get than the standard headline, but in a world where content is king, you definitely do not want to alienate your readers by putting out misleading titles.

So, how do you go about writing click-worthy titles that will entice your readers? Read on for a few ideas below.

1. Pose or Answer a Relevant Question

Using a question in a headline will inspire an instant engagement. It helps create the tone of the conversation. Your title can also answer a valuable and relevant question to your audience. For example, “Are Your Invoices Positioning You to Get Paid Quicker?” It demonstrates that there are solutions as you read on.

2. Use Words Your Audiences Uses

Send a survey out to your audience asking a question about the content they like to read, trends they are interested in, etc. Review the results for consistencies and take those results and implement them into your titles. This approach helps you validate that the titles you’re putting out resonate with your audience and it’s something they are looking for.

3. Elicit Emotion from Your Audience

Emotion can be a powerful motivator to get additional clicks and traffic to your website. We know images help, but how can your words compliment the image? Applying emotion to your titles subtly will be less gimmicky but still, allow for the effect you’re going for. An example would be, “Cash Flow Problems — the Silent Threat Every Solopreneur Must Overcome.” The title creates a feeling of concern, leading you to click on and read more, but it gives what the thread is, so users aren’t forced to click through to find out about something they might not care about. If they’re interested in reading about how cash flow is a threat to their business, they’ll click. There are over 500 powerful and emotional words that you can include in your titles that will help with clicks and shares.

4. Offer Tips or Solutions

Often people are looking for answers, help or advice when they start Googling (think “how to” headlines). Creating content that’s outlined by bullet points or in numerical order makes it easier for your audience to retain the information they are looking for. The same goes for titles. Incorporate that information into a headline that will let them know how they are getting the advice or solutions. For example, “10 Eye-Catching Ways to Update Your Resume.” This is a popular title strategy is often referred to as a “listicle,” which is simply a form of content presented in a list format.

5. “Being in the Wrong” Titles

It’s arguably a fact that nobody really likes to be wrong. Developing a title that calls out your audience for something they may be doing wrong will undoubtedly pique interest. For example, “3 Invoicing Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make.” Your audience will click on that hoping they don’t make those mistakes but also find out if they do, you’re offering a solution to fix it. This creates value, trust, and loyalty because it’s relevant, helpful content.

6. Don’t Forget to Optimize & Test

For SEO purposes, it’s important to include a keyword or two in your headline. It will make it easier for search engines to prioritize your blog post or article when your audience is searching for that specific content topic.

You can A/B test titles, too. One of the most common platforms to test titles on is on Twitter. When creating content, think of 3-4 different titles to use for that content. Take those title variations and stagger publishing them throughout the morning (or afternoon) on your Twitter account. Track which headline performed best out of the group. That title will then be your go-to for the content throughout many different platforms. While this solution isn’t 100 percent foolproof because of many different variables, it will help you determine which title is more effective.

In conclusion, just remember the golden rule — avoid clickbait titles. Using clickbait titles and headlines will not turn prospective customers into buyers or create any loyalty to your brand. It also won’t convert users into followers. You’re more likely to lose these customers or followers, and fast. The traffic you gained with these titles is temporary. You’ll not only run the risk of being labeled as a spammer, but your website will have a high bounce rate. Using clickbait titles and irrelevant content will not create curiosity and Google will end up marking your website as less valuable (not good!).

Focus on producing content that is well-researched and relevant to your target audience. Make sure your titles are accurate and consistent with the content your putting out. This will build brand integrity and help you create a loyal following or customer base.