11 Reasons Internet Listicles Are Easy Click Bait

8 Oct
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I’m gonna come out and say something I should be ashamed of: I read the HuffingtonPost. Wow, admitting it feels good. Yes, the site is one of the most visited in America, so someone’s visiting Arianna’s big old blog aggregator, but who really admits it? I mean the site doesn’t have a distinct personality, really, it is all things to all people. But if there is one thing that the HuffPost excels at, and that gets me clicking like crazy, it is listicles.

Here’s an experiment. Let’s list the articles on the homepage with numbered lists in the title: 5 Things Rich People Do! 25 Things Every Woman Must Know! 9 Things People Over 50 Never Want to Hear! 7 Ways to Eat Good on a Hood Budget! 10 Ways Science is Suffering Under Government Shutdown! Now admit, the number in the title of each of these articles reassures you and tells you hey, I won’t take much of your time. You won’t be scrolling endlessly to read me. You’ll get some info and you’ll be on your way.

Let’s face it, listicles are the fast food of content consumption. They leave you feeling briefly satisfied afterwards, but mostly wanting something more nourishing later. For true nourishment, I suggest The New Yorker or a good novel. And in ode to listicles and the marketers who love them, here is a totally random, tongue-in-cheek list I made for your immediate satisfaction. 11 reasons listicles are total click bait:

  • Google has a special algorithm that reads bullet points alone.
  • Numbered lists should ideally be a prime number. Bonus points for odd numbers.
  • Each bullet point should be short and sweet. Ideally two sentences made up of around 8 words.
  • You should count the number of words in each bullet point. This adds unnecessary bullet points.
  • You should also use a bullet point to link back to a previous post. See how I did that?
  • Go ahead and link to random outside content. Links links links!
  • Be topical. Yes, it will lose value in the long-term, but in the short term, being super topical makes you now and of the moment. So, Miley Cyrus government shutdown Oktoberfest!
  • Some of your points will be really useful and/or insightful, but let’s face it, you have space to fill. You need some filler. So go ahead and just fill a bullet point with bla bla bla.
  • Lastly, end on a positive note. Your reader should have learned a little teeny tiny bit about something- say, that rich people don’t buy without first comparison shopping!- and then let them go on their merry way.
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