What is Clickbait? The Risks for Business Promotion

What is Clickbait and Why Should You Be Careful Using It to Promote Your Business?

What is clickbait? In the quest for online visibility, attracting site visitors is paramount for any business’s digital success. Recently, an increasing number of marketers and small business owners have turned to clickbait as a shortcut to boost traffic.

While clever and occasional use of clickbait can indeed be a tactical approach in content marketing, it requires cautious handling.

Often, reliance on clickbait strategies can lead to negative outcomes, highlighting the importance of understanding its implications and using it wisely.

What is Clickbait?

You’ve seen clickbaiting everywhere, even if you aren’t always aware of it.

Simply put, clickbait is a piece of content that intentionally over-promises or misrepresents in order to pull users onto a particular website. Clickbait generally captures users with a snappy, sensationalist headline — such as “you won’t believe this”, or “you’ll never guess what happened next” — but then fails to deliver on the user’s implicit expectations.

One of the more popular types of clickbait content is to produce “listicles” that aggregate content from other sites in order to pull a wider range of users onto one site.

Clickbait articles tend to run under 300 words, and don’t ordinarily include original ideas or content. Instead, they’re summaries of longer stories or embedded videos that could be found elsewhere, and upon inspection don’t necessarily match their corresponding headline or lede.

A lot of small business owners and marketing agencies like to use clickbait because it’s a super-fast way of generating web traffic — and it can generate results. Industry-specific listicles in particular can save users a lot of time and energy attempting to aggregate information for themselves.

The subsequent increase in traffic this content creates can improve a site’s search engine presence phenomenally. Generally speaking, that’s a win-win.

Whether that traffic directly translates to higher conversion rates and an increase in sales is more difficult to say. But if companies over-rely on clickbaiting, it can often come back to bite them hard.

What is Clickbait and Why Should You Be Careful Using It to Promote Your Business?

Why Should You Be Careful Using Clickbait to Promote Your Business?

The trouble is clickbait over-promises and under-delivers, so chances are most of your would-be customers try to avoid it whenever possible. After all, nobody likes to feel like they’ve been duped or had their time wasted — and so if you start publishing or promoting clickbait too often, your brand might become toxically synonymous with questionable information or wasted time.

More important still, you could be shooting yourself in the foot in terms of SEO.

Search engines like Google factor a whole lot of criteria into their algorithms when producing results pages for users — and one of those factors is the quality of web content. Every couple of months, Google rolls out a number of updates designed to sift through clickbait, duplicate content and fake news, and subsequently punishes the pages and websites associated with that low-quality content by pushing them further down the results pages.

Another factor search engines look at when ranking different sites is a webpage’s bounce rate. If users click onto a page, identify the content as useless and immediately “bounce” away from the site without clicking to another page, Google generally classes that site as less valuable from a user standpoint. The more users bounce away from your pointless content, the more your website suffers.

What is Clickbait and Why Should You Be Careful Using It to Promote Your Business?

Facebook has taken its own steps against clickbait, too. Last summer, the social media giant unveiled a new algorithm update that identifies clickbait being posted by companies, and subsequently prevents those posts from showing up in users’ News Feeds.

Bearing this in mind, it’s worth thinking twice before hosting clickbait on your company website or sharing it on social media. When used sparingly and creatively, it can generate positive traffic that could ultimately bolster your online presence. That increased profile comes hand-in-hand with a number of indirect benefits.

But relying too heavily on clickbait is also a sure-fire way to harm your SEO, lose social media followers and tarnish trust in your brand. So, you really should tread carefully. Sometimes it pays dividends to avoid hopping on the bandwagon — and unless you’re a confident marketer, that means you just might want to steer clear of clickbaiting.

What is Clickbait and Why Should You Be Careful Using It to Promote Your Business?

Creating Engaging Content Without Clickbait

In the world of content marketing, there are effective strategies to engage your audience and drive traffic to your website without resorting to clickbait tactics. Here are some alternative approaches to consider:

Quality Content

Prioritizing the creation of high-quality, valuable content is fundamental to meeting the needs and interests of your target audience. Strive to offer informative, insightful, and entertaining material that not only answers their questions but also keeps them coming back for more. This approach helps in building a loyal following that values your content’s relevance and depth.

Compelling Headlines

Crafting attention-grabbing headlines is crucial for drawing readers into your content. Use curiosity and emotion to entice readers, making sure that your content delivers on the promises made by the headline. An accurately represented headline ensures that readers feel satisfied and trust your content, increasing the likelihood of return visits.


Incorporate storytelling into your content to captivate and engage your audience. Narratives are a powerful tool for conveying information, sharing experiences, and building a connection with readers. Through storytelling, you can make complex information more relatable and memorable, fostering a stronger relationship with your audience.

Visual Appeal

Enhancing your content with visually appealing elements, such as images, infographics, and videos, can significantly increase engagement and shareability. Visual content not only breaks up text-heavy posts but also helps in conveying your message more effectively, making it accessible to a wider audience.

User-Centric Approach

Maintain a user-centric approach in your content creation. By understanding your audience’s pain points, questions, and interests, you can tailor your content to address them effectively. This strategy ensures that your content is relevant and valuable to your audience, enhancing their engagement and satisfaction.

Educational Content

Position your brand as an authority in your industry by providing educational content. How-to guides, tutorials, and informative articles can help establish your credibility and attract a dedicated readership. Educational content not only informs but also empowers your audience, making them more likely to trust and rely on your brand.

Interactive Elements

Incorporate interactive elements like quizzes, polls, and surveys to engage users and encourage participation. Interactive content can significantly boost user engagement and provide valuable insights into your audience’s preferences and behaviors. This engagement enhances the user experience and fosters a more dynamic interaction with your content.


Maintain a consistent publishing schedule to keep your audience engaged and informed. Regularly updated content helps in building a loyal readership over time, as consistency signals reliability and commitment to your audience. This approach ensures that your audience has a reason to regularly visit your site for new and interesting content.

Social Sharing

Encourage social sharing by including share buttons and calls to action in your content. Making it easy for readers to share your content with their networks not only expands your reach but also increases the visibility and impact of your message. Social sharing can significantly amplify your content’s exposure, attracting new visitors to your website.

Community Building

Foster a sense of community among your audience by encouraging discussions, comments, and feedback. Creating an engaged and interactive online community around your brand strengthens the relationship between you and your readers, making your content a hub for like-minded individuals to connect and share ideas.

Email Marketing

Utilize email marketing campaigns to deliver valuable content directly to your subscribers. Personalized and targeted email content can effectively drive traffic and conversions, as it reaches your audience in a more intimate and direct manner. This approach allows for tailored messages that can significantly enhance engagement and loyalty.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimize your content for search engines by incorporating relevant keywords, meta tags, and high-quality backlinks. Effective SEO practices can improve your content’s visibility in search results, making it easier for your target audience to find you. This foundational aspect of content marketing is crucial for long-term success and audience growth.

Guest Blogging

Collaborate with industry influencers and experts to publish guest posts on their platforms. This strategy can expand your reach and bring new visitors to your website, as it exposes your brand to a wider audience. Guest blogging is a powerful way to build relationships with industry leaders and increase your credibility.

Content Promotion

Actively promote your content through various channels, including social media, email newsletters, and partnerships. Effective promotion is key to increasing your content’s visibility and reach. By leveraging multiple platforms and strategies, you can ensure that your content is seen by a broader audience, maximizing its impact.

StrategyDescription and Considerations
Quality ContentPrioritize high-quality, valuable content that meets audience needs and keeps them returning for more.
Compelling HeadlinesCraft attention-grabbing, accurate headlines that align with the content, using curiosity and emotion to entice readers.
StorytellingUtilize storytelling to captivate the audience, building connections and conveying information effectively.
Visual AppealEnhance content with visually appealing elements such as images, infographics, and videos to boost engagement.
User-Centric ApproachKeep the audience's needs and preferences at the forefront, addressing their pain points and interests effectively.
Educational ContentEstablish authority by offering educational content such as how-to guides, tutorials, and informative articles.
Interactive ElementsIncorporate interactive elements like quizzes, polls, and surveys to engage users and gather valuable insights.
ConsistencyMaintain a consistent publishing schedule to build a loyal readership over time, keeping the audience engaged.
Social SharingEncourage social sharing with share buttons and calls to action, making it easy for readers to share your content.
Community BuildingFoster a sense of community through discussions, comments, and feedback, creating an engaged online community.
Email MarketingUse targeted email marketing to deliver valuable content directly to subscribers, driving traffic and conversions.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)Optimize content for search engines with keywords, meta tags, and backlinks to improve visibility in search results.
Guest BloggingCollaborate with industry influencers and experts on guest posts to expand reach and attract new website visitors.
Content PromotionActively promote content across various channels, including social media, email newsletters, and partnerships.

What is Clickbait and Why Should You Be Careful Using It to Promote Your Business?

Measuring and Refining Your Content Strategy

Creating engaging content is just the beginning; to ensure its effectiveness and continually improve your content marketing strategy, you need to measure its impact and make data-driven adjustments. Here’s how:

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Identify and track KPIs relevant to your content goals. Common KPIs include website traffic, click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, bounce rates, and social shares.
  • Analytics Tools: Utilize web analytics tools such as Google Analytics to gain insights into user behavior and content performance. Analyze which content resonates most with your audience and generates the most traffic and conversions.
  • A/B Testing: Experiment with different content formats, headlines, visuals, and calls to action using A/B testing. This allows you to determine what elements are most effective in engaging your audience.
  • Audience Feedback: Pay attention to comments, feedback, and engagement metrics on your content. User comments can provide valuable insights into audience preferences and concerns.
  • Content Calendar: Maintain a content calendar to plan and organize your content strategy. A calendar helps ensure consistency and allows you to align content with seasonal trends and events.
  • Competitor Analysis: Monitor your competitors’ content strategies to gain inspiration and insights. Identify gaps in their content offerings and explore opportunities to differentiate your brand.
  • Content Optimization: Regularly review and update existing content to keep it relevant and accurate. Outdated content can negatively impact your SEO and user experience.
  • Content Distribution: Evaluate the channels and platforms where your content performs best. Focus your distribution efforts on those channels that yield the highest engagement and traffic.
  • Conversion Tracking: Implement conversion tracking to measure how your content contributes to lead generation and sales. This helps you understand the ROI of your content marketing efforts.
  • Benchmarking: Establish benchmarks for your content performance based on industry standards and competitor data. Benchmarking provides context for evaluating your success.
  • Feedback Loop: Maintain an open feedback loop between your content creators, marketers, and audience. Encourage communication to continuously refine your content strategy.
  • Content Iteration: Use the data and insights gathered to refine your content strategy over time. Experiment with new content formats, topics, and approaches based on what resonates with your audience.
  • Reporting and Analysis: Regularly review and report on your content’s performance to stakeholders. Clearly communicate how your content contributes to your overall marketing goals.
Measurement and Refinement StepsDescription and Considerations
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)Identify and track relevant KPIs such as website traffic, CTR, conversion rates, bounce rates, and social shares.
Analytics ToolsUtilize web analytics tools like Google Analytics to gain insights into user behavior and content performance.
A/B TestingExperiment with different content elements using A/B testing to determine the most effective engagement strategies.
Audience FeedbackPay attention to user comments, feedback, and engagement metrics to understand audience preferences and concerns.
Content CalendarMaintain a content calendar to plan and organize your strategy, ensuring consistency and alignment with trends.
Competitor AnalysisMonitor competitors' strategies for inspiration and differentiation opportunities in your own content offerings.
Content OptimizationRegularly review and update existing content to keep it accurate and relevant, preventing negative SEO impacts.
Content DistributionEvaluate the performance of various distribution channels, focusing efforts on those yielding the highest engagement.
Conversion TrackingImplement conversion tracking to measure content's contribution to lead generation and sales, understanding ROI.
BenchmarkingEstablish benchmarks based on industry standards and competitor data to provide context for evaluating your success.
Feedback LoopMaintain an open feedback loop between content creators, marketers, and the audience to continuously refine strategy.
Content IterationRefine your content strategy over time using gathered data and insights, experimenting with new formats and topics.
Reporting and AnalysisRegularly review and report on content performance, communicating its contribution to overall marketing goals.

Fishing Lure Photo via Shutterstock


Nash Riggins Nash Riggins is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and an American journalist based in central Scotland. Nash covers industry studies, emerging trends and general business developments. His writing background includes The Huffington Post, World Finance and GuruFocus. His website is NashRiggins.com.

10 Reactions
  1. Vishwajeet Kumar

    Clickbait is quite risky if you do not have enough knowledge regarding it. But with adequate strategies you can make most out of it. Thanks for sharing this informative post with us.

  2. It is okay to create clickbaits if it provides value to your readers or customers. But clickbaits for its own sake is not good.

  3. There are some clickbaits that are relevant to the market. But I agree that clickbaiting for its own sake will only lead people away from your site.

  4. You may have seen those clickbait titles on social media sites. It still works. But only if the post is only revealed to a targeted market.

  5. Robert hates clickbait

    Click bait is a sure fire way to contract STDs

  6. I value the blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.keep posting.

  7. A very nice article, Cool and keep adding more articles

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