Are Clickbait Headline Formulas Dead in 2018?

This guest post was contributed by Justin Osborne. Justin is a blogger from Leicester, England, UK. When not teaching his little students and rooting for Leicester FC, he loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as an editor at UK BestEssays. Follow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.

Marketers used to believe that a well-scripted headline formula will always boost their websites’ traffic. The common belief was that as long as that formula has worked in the past – in various combinations – then it means it must also work today. 

However, the year of 2018 breaks that belief into pieces as clickbait headlines took over the entire scene, happening to be the most attractive and effective way of improving website traffic.

Nowadays, those old, carefully scripted headlines have lost their effectiveness because of the excessive and over-intrusive advertising that is now omnipresent in the online environment. 

The average internet user consistently avoids the distractions which are put in front of him. Ads, banners, pop-ups – most people will ignore them.
Do you know what people can’t ignore, though? Headlines, and especially clickbait headlines.

Headlines Everywhere

Whenever we need to find something on the web, we enter Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube (and so on) and search for what we need. When the search engines provide us with the results, the first elements that we notice are the headlines.

Whenever we scroll on our social media feeds (especially on Twitter) we encounter headlines. Whenever we read the newspaper, watch TV, or look for a movie, we want to see the headlines first.

So because there are so many headlines everywhere, every smart marketer understood one thing. In order to improve their traffic, they had to focus on capturing the entire attention of their customer with the help of their carefully crafted headlines. And so, the “clickbait” headline came into play

A “Dirty” Method that Works

People call it dirty because the nature of a clickbait title is very tricky. The headline itself does not present any concrete information. Instead, it offers strong emotional triggers that will produce an insane desire for further information. The most common emotions people feel when coming across a clickbait headline are curiosity, hope, fear, and urgency.

Do clickbait headline formulas still work in 2018? Of course, they do. Please enter your Twitter news feed and scroll for a few seconds- you will see for yourself. For those who are still confused whether clickbait is really worth it, here are some scientific studies that confirm it. People can’t help but click on clickbait headlines!

What is the Problem?

So if people love to click on clickbait formulas, why are they complaining so much? 

Well, to create an amazing wording combination in your headline is one thing, yet to offer poor quality content or irrelevant content is another.

Internet users are getting sick of clickbait because most of it will fail to satisfy their needs or problems. So now we have a sort of paradox. People love to click on clickbait, yet they say they hate it.

11 Unbelievable Headline Strategies That Will Make You a Millionaire

See the clickbait headline I’ve just used? Please avoid it. This is exactly the type of clickbait you don’t want to use. It’s the type of clickbait that is both exaggerated and inappropriate simply because it’s exaggerated. No article will make you a millionaire, so the headline automatically fails to provide what it promises.

To make your clickbait even more effective than it normally without annoying people by delivering false promises, you must between strike for a balance between different elements. Clickbait can be extremely effective and productive for your marketing campaigns as long as you consistently test, measure, and optimize your headline strategies.

Well, here are the promised “unbelievable” headline strategies that will help you craft more effective headlines. Take each of these tips separately and test them on your own. Nobody can craft the perfect headline for your audience except you. Therefore, use every tip that you find useful and start crafting better clickbait headline formulas for your quality content.

1.   Spark Curiosity

The first thing that you want to include in your headline is a bit of curiosity. People are curious beings, and many would do many things to pursue the information they’re seeking. Whenever you craft headlines, see if you could first make your audience extremely curious.

2.   Provoke Emotions

Human beings are governed by emotions. A smart marketing campaign will focus on sparking as many powerful emotions as possible. If you make a person feel something, you’ve instantly gained his attention. When you have a user’s attention, leading him to your website and eventually turning him into an email subscriber will be easier than ever.

Great headlines focus on emotions such as love, hate, hope, desire, compassion, empathy, and so on. Add words that create an emotional impact and your headline will rock!

3.   Suggest Exclusivity

Let it be known that the information which is hidden under your headline is exclusive. This will suggest the fact that reaching the information in question is an opportunity and a privilege. Most of us love to feel lucky. We love to see how life rewards us, so whenever we stumble upon “such opportunities”, we’ll be eager to seek and look further.

4.   Create Urgency

We’re experiencing a fast-paced world, where everybody rushes and seeks more time to do stuff. Smart clickbait headlines often provoke a sense of urgency in the reader’s mind. For example:

“This Incredible Conspiration Proof Tape Will Be Taken Down in 24 Hours!”

As you can notice, this headline will make the reader wonder what’s up with the mysterious tape, and why is it taken down. The next move would be to click on the link in order to find out. That’s exactly the state of mind you want your potential clickers to be, only that you shouldn’t exaggerate with the promise.

5.   Provide Challenges

Make it challenging. Headlines like “You’ll Never Guess What X Did to Y” are extremely effective, as they directly encourage people to take on a challenge. Indeed, many will ignore it as they’ll perceive it as annoying, yet many will try to play the game. They’ll guess in their heads and then they’ll click in order to confirm.

6.   Be Extremely Bold Yet Respectful

Every marketer and webmaster is probably trying to improve their headlines. The competition is very tough in every niche, and that is exactly why you should be bold with your headlines. Sometimes you might believe that you’re “crossing the line”, and you may be right. You should be careful, though, as there’s a slim line between being bold and disrespectful.

7.   Create Controversy

Controversial headlines are incredibly powerful as they can bring a lot of traffic back to your website in a very short matter of time. People love controversy even though they say they hate it. You make your headlines controversial by challenging people’s beliefs.

Bring different opinions and views on popular subjects. However, you may get as controversial as you want, but keep your dignity in place. Don’t just post controversial headlines if the subjects are not really controversial or if they do not bring palpable evidence.

8.   Leverage Numbers, Dates, and Statistics

If you pay attention, you’ll see that all the great marketers are leveraging numbers, dates, and statistics when posting their content. Every headline is carefully crafted with the user in mind. A lot of statistics are taken into consideration, and according to the results of the measurements, different numbers are used throughout posts.

For example, instead of “Tips to Improve Productivity’, you’d better use “7 Bulletproof Tips to Improve productivity”. As you can notice, the latter example is more attractive, and it’ll definitely attract more clicks.

9.   Speak Only to Your Target Audience

You’re working so hard on your headlines with one purpose: to bring targeted traffic back to your website. Notice the underlined word? Targeted. Without the proper traffic, you’ve done nothing. That is exactly why you always need to speak directly to your audience, and your audience only. Use the right words and talk to them like they were your best friends (because they actually are).

10. Make It Short, Readable, and Concise

A headline, whether it’s published on Twitter, Facebook, or any other online platform, should be short, readable, and concise. Short headlines are always expressing more because they let the readers tap into their imagination and immediately predict what the headline will lead to.

A perfect headline has to be readable. Therefore, it needs to contain simple words and terms that everybody can understand.

Lastly, it must be very concise. Even though you might be using clickbait tactics that are not always “clean”, you should try to be as concise as you can. Make the words transmit what the post/link really wants to transmit.

11. Analyze Your Headlines Consistently

This is probably the most important tip that you need to carefully implement along with your headline strategies. I’m talking about analytics. Without analytics, your efforts are all random and impossible to trace.
You need to see precise statistics which indicate the performance of your headlines. This is the only possible way of knowing whether you should keep using a particular headline format in the future or not. Begin performing A/B tests. Basically, use different headlines that link to the same content or page in order to notice which one performs best.

Use Google Analytics to see which of the headlines bring most of the traffic. In time, you’ll find many productive patterns that will help you improve the performance of your future headlines. In addition to Google Analytics, take advantage of several other headline improvement tools – they’ll make your life way easier!


By paying attention and seeking the proper balance between the strategies you’ve just read, you’ll soon find incredible headlines that will significantly boost your website’s traffic. Find evocative headlines that do not annoy your readers and use them to entice them to consume your content.

This guest post was contributed by Justin Osborne. Justin is a blogger from Leicester, England, UK. When not teaching his little students and rooting for Leicester FC, he loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as an editor at UK BestEssays. Follow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.