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The Most Effective Elements of Clickbait Article Headlines

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What makes a clickbait article headline effective? Does it include a number? The mention of an animal? Some topic currently in the news?

To find out, Venngage examined the top performing articles posted over a three-month span on 24 high-traffic sites known for producing content with engaging titles. The publishers examined included Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Cracked, The Huffington Post, Vox, and Clickhole.

The researchers identified seven key clickbait headline factors: lists, personal stories, animal references, pop culture/food topics, news topics, unknown ideas/new stories, and an element of shock.

Some 79% of the headlines of the most popular posts examined included an element of shock ("Inspiring! This Runner Stopped Just Yards From The Finish To Put A Collapsed Rival Out Of Her Misery").

More than half also referenced something new ("Instagrammer Matches Makeup to Socks"), a topic currently in the news ("Bernie Sanders Will Win the Democratic Nomination and Presidency in a Landslide"), or pop culture/food ("The Secret Meaning Behind Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyoncé's Halftime Performance").


Most of the highly successful headlines examined included three or four of the clickbait factors, the analysis found.

About the research: The report was based on an analysis of the articles posted over a three-month span on 24 high-traffic sites known for producing content with engaging titles. The publishers examined included Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Cracked, The Huffington Post, Vox, and Clickhole


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by john Tue Mar 1, 2016 via web

    I can't help but think that there is something ironic about clicking on an article that is written about the most effective click bait...

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