Using SEO in a Clickbait World

Posted on June 22, 2015 by Bryan B

fishingWhen used correctly, search engine optimization is a powerful tool. It can send your company’s page to the top of the search rankings, potentially drawing a massive amount of visitors to your site. The problem with SEO, though, is that it’s constantly changing. Even if you hire writers that know SEO well, you still might find yourself behind the 8-ball due to events beyond your control.

The Clickbait Problem

One such event is the shift we’ve seen in Web content. Whereas the title of a piece of content once gave an indication as to what a reader might find in that article, titles today mainly serve as a teaser to get people to click through. The goal is to give the reader just enough information to convince them that it’s worth their while to read the article – even if the reader’s eventual payoff leaves much to be desired.

The term “clickbait” is a loaded word to many. It carries a great deal of negative feelings, both from publishers and consumers of content. From the reader’s perspective, many people have been burned too many times, making them hesitant to click a shady headline. On the other hand, this type of headline leaves content creators in a constant search for the next big thing. After all, the shelf life of a viral piece is perilously short.

However, nobody wants to click on a boring headline, just as no website wants to be stuck promoting boring articles that people aren’t as inclined to share. Fortunately, there’s a way around this dilemma, and it’s an old mainstay of Internet marketing.

Introducing SEO

The entire premise of SEO is to be at the top of the list when someone searches for a given keyword. That makes sense, right? But it’s virtually impossible to include relevant keywords and maintain credibility in the midst of a “You Won’t Believe What Happened Next” headline.

According to Moz, the best way to handle SEO in the modern era is to find overlap between a catchy headline, your company’s marketing goals and the intent of the searcher. There might not be a very large overlap, but it’s there for the taking. You just have to find a way to incorporate all three of these factors while keeping your credibility intact.

People commonly mistake BuzzFeed for clickbait, but it actually does a great job of nailing this very concept. BuzzFeed is often derided for its list-based articles, but it just so happens that lists are informative and easily shareable. They also lend themselves to credible headlines, and they often include just what a searcher wants to know. For instance, if I’m in an old-school gaming mood and I want to learn more about Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, I’m pleased to find that there are two list-based articles on the second page of Google’s search results that contain the random trivia I was looking for. This is just one example of a way you can align all three of these principles and wow those who come across your content.

While the goal of virtually every piece of content is to create something shareable, social media shares do not factor into Google’s search engine algorithms. This means that you can focus your energies on creating the best work possible without worrying about how your pieces perform on social media. That said, it’s a good idea to put some flavor into your headlines. This will help ensure that when people see your headline in a search, they’ll be much more motivated to click.

Writer Bio: Bryan B is a freelance writer living in Long Island, NY. Despite complaining about the snow all winter long, he’s already tired of warm weather.


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