Have you ever clicked on a blog post because the title was enticing, only to find the actual post was about something completely different?
I recently clicked on an interesting post title promising inside information about a topic I was researching. Excited to learn some new tips and tricks that I could pass along to my readers I was left incredibly disappointed.
Yeah, that didn’t turn out so well.
As I clicked away from the site I felt ripped off and cheated. I immediately put the blog on my “Does Not Rock” list. It will be a long while before I recommend that blog to anyone else. The integrity of the blogger was compromised in just minutes.
See, my mission is to scour the interwebs looking for information about blogging, social media, graphic design, and writing for you, my incredibly loyal fan base and engaged readers. You have told me time and time again how much you love posts and pins that are helpful, informative, and insightful.
What you don’t love are posts that promise one thing in the title and offer something totally different in the actual content.
In the advertising and marketing world this is called clickbait.
The official definition of clickbait is
(on the Internet) content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page. Google
Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content. Wiki
Let’s just say…it’s lame.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You should work hard to write inviting and interesting titles for your blog posts. Use adjectives and adverbs that illicit interest and clicks but make sure they are truthful about the content. Don’t offer help or tips in a specific area and then never mention said tips in the body of the post.
Most importantly, never offer inside information about a topic and then make people pay for it. You at least need to give your readers a free tip or insight for their time. This will lead to genuine interest and a lot more sales than just a hard sell alone.
Decide now to blog with integrity.
Most often clickbait happens on Pinterest. A skillfully created graphic contains a title promising amazing, unique, or fantastic content then leads to a regurgitated list of other people’s hard work. Some posts contain over-generalized content with no real meat. Others lead to a sales-pitch for you to buy a product with no insight into how and why the product will help you.
Nothing destroys blog credibility faster than a title that misleads readers to a spammy or sales-pitchy post.
I have a fierce protection policy for my readers. I want to shield them from junk and if I read a headline that promises one thing but the post delivers something completely different, I’m on it instantly and BAM! my readers will never hear or see anything from that blogger, even if the next post is good or the one before was great.
I’ve taken to creating my own blacklist of bloggers who practice this kind of tomfoolery and there are consequences for misleading readers. (For the record, I re-evaluate the list on a periodic basis because everyone deserves a chance at redemption.)
I know it sounds harsh but quality content speaks for itself. I work hard to find information that will make my readers better bloggers, marketers, writers, and designers. I am dedicated to equipping them for success. Blogging is hard work and the last thing a new blogger needs is 1.) a rabbit trail and 2.) a bad example of a blog post.
So, what can you do to maintain the integrity of your blog?
1. Be inviting but truthful with your blog post titles
If you aren’t using it yet, you need to start running your post titles through the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. It’s free and can help improve your share rates with language that prompts readers to click.
Be sure to download their Power Words list for helpful ideas for creating interesting titles that draw in readers.
Tell the truth with your post titles. If you decide to call a list post “ultimate” it had better contain more than 5 links. If you say you know a secret to SEO or traffic growth, you’d better deliver or else it’s straight to the blacklist for you.
It’s not that hard. Use all the enticing language you want. Just make sure you also deliver the goods.
2. Share at least one or two pieces of your paid content with readers
You should definitely be writing posts about your products or services. However, don’t hide the information you provide from your readers. Be upfront about how it can help them.
If you have an ebook or ecourse to assist or inform readers, share one or two of the tips you share in the product to entice readers to buy the full meal deal. Don’t state that you have the answers to their problem and then require them to buy in order to get any details.
Share what you know. You don’t have to give it all away, but sharing builds trust and trust leads to sales and repeat customers. It’s basic business.
Be kind to your readers and they will repay you in spades with shares, pins, likes, and great word-of-mouth referrals. Share the love people.
3. Don’t pin offender’s content
When you pin interesting graphics on Pinterest, make sure you know where the info comes from and that the source is reliable. Most importantly, make sure the content behind the graphic is worthwhile and as helpful as the headline claims.
If a pin looks interesting click it yourself. Skim through the content. Does the post live up to the title? If not, don’t bother pinning it regardless of how cute the picture is.
Time is too precious these days to be wasting it on useless drivel. Be useful. It pays back dividends and will grow your audience faster than any gimmick out there.
If you can’t do something well, it’s not worth doing. That includes blogging. Do it well, blog with integrity, be truthful, and serve your audience. Your success depends on it.