the sky floor

Top 5 Reasons to Read this Clickbait Article

August 16, 2022
  1. It’s meta. An article about clickbait with a clickbait title? I’m in!
  2. You’ll never guess number 2! (But wait, you just read it)
  3. Read until the end; that is where the last sentence is! Ok, maybe you could’ve skipped this list, but lists are fun, and we all want to have fun.
  4. Clickbait is everywhere; we might as well learn to harness it. 
  5. Is there a way to responsibly use the principles of clickbait? Yes. That is what this article is really about.

Clickbait is a pox on the internet. We have all been there, scrolling harmlessly through a genuine news article, only to be accosted with a clickbait headline that you can’t resist. You click it and, head exploding emoji, you are sucked into a vortex of a 50-slide website that never even delivers on the headline promise. 

Real Clickbait: a headline that evokes a powerful impulse to click but never follows up with the promised content (or does so in a completely useless way). 

The truth is, clickbait is only frustrating when it doesn’t deliver on its promise. If a headline is so good that you can’t ignore it and the article’s contents are worth the headline, then no love is lost. The problem is when the content takes a sharp left turn, never mentions the subject, or takes 1000 words to say what one sentence could. That is real clickbait. 

You can use the principles of a clickbait headline to attract readers, but you must deliver quality content. After all, if you have something meaningful to say, enticing a larger audience to engage is a gift, not a heist. 

The Principles of a Clickbait Headline

Here are some of my favorite clickbait headline principles:

  • Lists. Listicles give the reader an idea of what to expect from the article and make clicking a little more comfortable. A number is the proverbial number of pieces if you are undertaking a puzzle. You may not want to undertake a 5,000-piece puzzle, but you have time for 500. 
  • Uncertainty. You can create tension that your article or blog post will answer. “Before You Buy Your Next House, Read This”
  • Personal. Real stories that have unknown conclusions are perfect for driving engagement. 
  • Relevant. You can use current events to highlight something that readers want to know more about right now. But be careful; you need to have something to say that is related. 

The key to remember is that you must deliver on your headline. You cannot simply say “just kidding” about the most exciting headline hook and expect the reader to stay engaged. They will navigate away and lose trust. 

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  • Use the principles of clickbait to drive engagement. 
  • Don’t use the clickbait and switch. It will frustrate your audience and hurt your brand.