There’s something quite meta about you clicking on my article about people clicking on things. Clearly I’ve done something right so far, whether it be the title or the image. But have you ever clicked on something, only to be underwhelmed by the content?

*gulp* no pressure, but stay with me …

There’s plenty of occasions I’ve clicked on articles only to be disappointed by them. Misleading headlines. Unrelated imagery. Spammy landing pages.

Which left me thinking:

what did they get so right in their content marketing that made me give them a chance in the first place? Instead of feeling duped, I decided to take a closer look at ways you can dramatically increase the number of clicks on your content.

Not only that, but I’ll also cover how you can then keep them on the page.

Before we get into that though, why not give some clicks to this button for some fun examples of clickbait …

Please don't press this button
You won't believe what happens when you click this button!

What makes people tick click?

On average, Google can deliver millions of results for every search you make. Whether it’s the recipe for a traditional bakewell tart, or an article about SEO, you’ll be given a list of webpages that most closely match your original search query. The fact that you’re in competition with so many other websites means that it’s crucial to get yourself high up in Google’s rankings – ideally on page one.

But hold on a moment. Being on the first page isn’t enough.

Once you’ve made it onto the first page of Google for your chosen keywords (this is a topic we’ll cover in the near future), you need to optimise your listing for conversion. By conversion we basically mean clickability.

Matt Atkinson, our very own SEO maestro, will be covering conversion rate optimisation in the near future, so stay tuned.

Understanding the SERPs

The SERPs (search engine results pages) are the web pages loaded up immediately after you enter a search into Google. How your article appears in the SERPs is crucial to getting clicks. It’s what makes you stand out from the results that are above and below you.

Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a search engine result:

All of the features above work together in earning a click. Google currently only displays 600 pixels for the title tag, so measuring the character limit can become a bit of a grey area.

To be sure, the Moz Google preview tool is great for testing out a title to see what it will look like in real-time search results.

The title tag should be intriguing enough to prompt the reader to read the meta description, and the meta description should be relevant and persuasive enough to make them want to read more.

Yep, so essentially you only get 150 characters to sell that 4,000 word article you’ve slaved over for weeks. Welcome to advertising.

Now that we know how important they are, the next question is … how can you write a great meta description?

How to write a great meta description

Every page of your website should have optimised meta descriptions and title tags. Google can (and will) override your meta description if it thinks that it’s not helping the reader a great deal. Logan Ray, SEO Specialist at Beacon, highlights,

“When Google overrides your title tag or meta description, it usually means they don’t think what you’ve provided will be useful for the reader. It could be over-optimised, keyword stuffed, too long, too short, or not relevant to the content on the page.”

If this is the case, then you’ll want to re-evaluate your meta description in order to make it more helpful and valuable to the search query.

Remember: this is a preview of your article for the readers, so making every word work as hard as possible is important for increasing your click-through rate.

A great meta description ideally:

  • Includes relevant keywords, as these will show in bold.
  • Provides a helpful and clear summary of the article subject.
  • Contains a call to action.

For more information on this, Frank Isca’s article on writing meta descriptions that rock the SERPs contains some really useful tips.

What is bounce rate and why should it be low?

You may have heard the term ‘bounce rate’ thrown around before (see what I did there?), but here’s what it means:

According to Google, bounce rate is the “percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. A rising bounce rate is a sure sign that your homepage is boring or off-putting.”

Have you ever visited a website, only to leave almost immediately? What made you do that? Was it text-heavy, irrelevant, or plagued by pop-up ads?

A bounce rate between 30-55% is considered a good range for most websites. You can see the website above is around the higher end of this bracket.

To stop visitors from quite literally bouncing off your website, you need to ensure that your content:

  • Includes a powerful opening paragraph and subheadings.
  • Delivers on the promise of the title tag / meta description.
  • Is easy to read and contains visual elements.

These are the first steps to ensuring your ‘clickers’ don’t simply click off straight away – because what’s the point in that?

So let’s take a look in a little more detail how you can keep them on your page and fulfil the second objective: get them to like / share your post.

They’ve clicked! So how do I keep them on my site?

If your optimised meta description and title tags are doing their jobs, then you’ll be getting plenty of click-throughs and traffic to your website / landing page. The next challenge is to keep them there.

But how?

Well first of all you need to make your content as engaging as possible from the get go. A 2008 study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that, on average, only 28% of the text on a page is read. This tells us that people prefer to scan over things instead of read them.

Software such as Crazyegg allows you to track the way users view your webpages, and they found that we tend to read content in an F-shaped pattern.

But what does this mean?

Well it means your articles need to be written in a certain style in order to cater for this. Keep your paragraphs short in order to retain your reader’s attention, try bucket brigades to build intrigue, and use ellipsis to implore them to continue reading …

… just like that.

Still with me? Great. To learn more about this, there’s a very thorough article by Brian Dean of Backlinko, covering the topic of bucket brigades in more detail.

Your first paragraph needs to engage the reader by outlining the things you’re going to cover throughout the article. It’s here that the reader decides whether it’s going to be worth their time, so you need to make this part relatable and relevant to their query.

This will ensure that the reader sticks with your content, keeping your bounce rate as low as possible. The longer you can keep them on the page, the more helpful they find your content, then the more likely they will be to share it – or even use your services.

On the subject of bounce rate, here’s a rather hot topic that needs addressing …

Why using clickbait can be a bad idea

If you spend enough time on the internet which, unless you’ve been living under a rock, we imagine you do, you’ll be all too aware of clickbait. Clickbait is often used in order to generate a high volume of visitors to a website / specific page – without any consideration of them engaging with anything thereafter.

And here lies the problem. Clickbait generates visitors not customers.

The titles and imagery used in clickbait are often misleading and sensationalised, inevitably leading to underwhelming content that is littered with adverts (which is where the big KER CHING! is).

“But, but … they said number 7 would shock me, so I must click through the other 6 slides and countless pop-up ads to see it!” – if this sounds familiar, then we’re sorry to say you’ve been a victim of clickbait.

But guess what?

We’ve all been caught, and it doesn’t take people long to catch on. Just remember, when they do, they’ll start swerving your website quicker than a HGV with a blow-out.

If you persistently use clickbait it can cause long-term damage to the reputation of your content and business. Even if you do start producing thorough, insightful content further down the line, the audience and interaction it gets could be stifled by your clickbaiting tendencies.

Boy who cried wolf and all that.

BUT, just to confuse matters, clickbait can actually work well, providing you know how and when to use it …

Why using clickbait is actually a good idea

Yes you read that correctly. Using just the right amount, having some clickbait-inspired headlines on some of your blog posts can actually work wonders. The art of writing good clickbait headlines is almost an article in itself, so we suggest taking a look at Buzzfeed or Bored Panda – two platforms that have mastered it.

Believe it or not though, clickbait has been around for a long time. A long, long time in fact …

A 1927 newspaper advert proving clickbait existed even before clicking did.

That headline sounds very familiar doesn’t it? Like something you’d see in an article feed across the bottom of a heavily monetised website. But yes, that is an authentic advert from the 1920s, written by advertising genius John Caples. In fact his 35 headline formula (lifted from his book, Tested Advertising Methods) is pretty much the clickbait bible.

Something that has been around since 1927 and is STILL going today is a fairly well proven technique, right?

The key to writing good clickbait headlines is to understand three components:

  • Hot topics.
  • Listicles.
  • Cliffhangers.

The trick to using the above components effectively is not to force or over-embellish anything. Fake news is rife at the moment and you don’t want to be known as that company for churning it out.

Instead, if you’ve compiled a genuinely helpful list, on a popular topic, and featuring eye-opening stats or information, then you’re well within your rights to leverage some clickbait tactics.

The best bit of providing quality clickbait (or ethical clickbait as I like to call it) is that it will still entice lots of visitors. But, because the article is substantial and fulfilling in its promise, those visitors will remain on your site for longer and be more inclined to visit again. Better still, become a customer.

Here’s an example of some ethical clickbait:

 

16 Actionable SEO Copywriting Secrets That Will Drive More Traffic To Your Site

 

The unusual number, the words ‘actionable’ and ‘secrets’ and the promise to ‘drive more traffic to your site’ all scream clickbait don’t they?

However, when you click on the article, you discover that it actually delivers some very useful, in depth content – something that’s an uncommon feature of stereotypical clickbait articles.

When you find this balance of high quality content and enticing headlines, you’ll notice the likes and shares will start to soar. And, not only will your website get more visitors, but they will stay on there for much longer, meaning there’s more chance of conversion.

When writing headlines for your content, Answer the Public and Title Generator are great places to start. Just type in your topic and watch them populate hundreds of keywords from popular search queries and arrange them into very clickable headlines.

Summary

I guess the point to take away from this article is that there’s no easy way to earn likes and shares, other than produce high quality, relevant content. There’s no quick tip, magic pill, or secret formula – no matter how many clickbait articles tell you so.

Knowing your audience, understanding how content is shared across social media, and growing a relevant following that will benefit from your content, are all essential foundations to gaining the interaction you want.

From here, it’s on you to deliver. Make sure your content is well researched, contains verified sources and (where necessary) offers accurate statistics. Combine all of this with a tone of voice that speaks to the reader on their level, and you’re well on your way to going viral.

Do you have any content success stories that you’d like to share with us? Maybe you’ve got some questions about writing clickbait headlines, or using bucket brigades within your content. Drop us a message below!

Jon

Author Jon

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