9 Tips for Writing Effective Clickbait Headlines for Your Garbage Content

If you’re anything like me, you know that the only way to trick people in to visiting your crappy website is to manipulate them using clickbait titles on all of your articles. Of course you recognize that producing quality content would be better, but quality content doesn’t grow on trees and you can just as easily deceive people into thinking your site might be worthwhile. You are also aware that the only thing you need to know about the words “ethics” and “dignity” are that they have no place in your life, or your article headlines.

Let’s get started!

1. Don’t worry about grammar or journalistic best-practices

In the traffic game, it’s all about quantity over quality. And let’s face it: we aren’t exactly targeting the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to internet users, so no one is really going to care anyway. While titles like: “What happens next will be amaze” won’t be winning you any Pulitzers, it doesn’t matter because anybody who is going to be visiting your dumpster-fire of a website won’t even know what a Pulitzer is.

2. Completely omit what the article is about

There is nothing more powerful than the imagination. Especially not your writing. Capitalize on that by neglecting to inform the visitor that your worthless post is nothing more than a crappy viral YouTube video from 2008 that they’ve already seen dozens of times. Think about it: would you click something if you already knew that it didn’t interest you in the slightest? Of course not! But if you saw a link titled “She opens the door. What happens next will leave you speechless”, you have no idea what’s going to happen after she opens the door.

I know what you’re thinking right now. “What happens after she opens the door?” I don’t blame you! But that’s the magic of clickbait titles. It doesn’t matter what happens after she opens the door! If it’s on your website, we both know that whatever it is, it will be a colossal waste of time for all parties. By the time the Pentium 4 in the server you pay Host Gator $10/year for finally renders the whole page, your “guest” will have already seen so many ads that their computer will either have crashed, or they’ll have finally seen the folly of their ways and cast their laptop into the sea. Either way, you just got paid by your advertisers and no one even got far enough to see just how terrible your content is.

3. Always use the definite pronouns “He” or “She” when possible; never correctly identify who is involved

This one is similar to #2. “He” could be anyone. It could even be your favorite person! You never know until you click. That’s psychology 101.

Another tip is that if you aren’t sure whether the individual is a man or a woman or if your control of the English language is simply inadequate, you can always substitute ‘he’ or ‘she’ with ‘they’. Example: “This baby opens a present. You won’t believe what happens when they see what’s inside!”

4. Inject your own vapid commentary, as if people care what you think

Your post is pure drivel, you know that. But perhaps if you feign approval for it, people will believe it’s worthwhile. After all, it’s been working for rednecks selling their Firebirds on craigslist for years, so why shouldn’t it work for you? But remember, don’t do this one halfway — You need to COMMIT. Here’s a good example:

“She goes in to a store. What happens next is LITERALLY THE MOST INCREDIBLE THING I’VE EVER SEEN”

Another gem.

5. Put everything into a BS numbered list

This one is all about knowing your audience. The people dumb enough to end up on your website simply don’t have the attention span to wade through multiple sentences or complete thoughts. That’s why everything needs to be numbered and to-the-point.

But again: know your audience. If you can’t count any higher, neither can they. That’s why I like to keep the number of items in the single-digits.

6. Split all types of content into as many pages as possible

This works particularly well for galleries, but is a great tactic even with written “articles.” You want them to click “next” as many times as possible, so that you can force the maximum number of ads down their throat before they choke and die. Another great strategy is to put the most interesting photo from a gallery as the image they see when clicking through, and then bury it as the very last one in a massive gallery. Or better yet, don’t have it in there at all! Because **** them.

7. Blatantly lie

Odds are if you’ve gotten this far, you haven’t the slightest clue what you’re doing at any point and are thus not a stranger to saying things that aren’t remotely true. This should be a walk in the park for you. We’ve already established that integrity is not your strong-suit, so why not spice up your godawful articles with some flat-out lies. There are a lot of things you can try here: say something happened that didn’t, say something is good when it’s not, or simply inject mystery or intrigue where there is none. This is especially useful for convincing the committed dimwit who managed to trudge through to the end that he or she should actually share this garbage with their zombie friends. Who knows, you could be the one to come up with the next “Vaccines cause autism!”

Here’s to hoping!

8. Game the system by forcing tweets

As of the time of this writing, it has become evident that Google has streamlined their ranking algorithm to just a single factor: shares on Twitter. Using this knowledge, we can focus all our energy maximizing the number of tweets we get for our articles. This will allow us to be #1 in Google results, even for search terms that are completely irrelevant.

Traditionally, websites have focused on producing quality content to maximize the number of social media shares they get. But as we’ve already established, that takes effort and talent, two things we are desperately lacking. So instead, we need to force users to share the article. Simply making it easy to share isn’t enough in today’s competitive marketplace. If we could go to every visitor’s house and hold a gun to their head, that would be the most effective. But unfortunately it’s not especially scalable.

Instead, we simply need to require visitors to tweet the article before they’ve read it or, better yet, figure out a way to do it automatically without them knowing. Piggybacking off another app is the best way to accomplish the latter, but the former is still a good option. Your visitors, having already committed to clicking the link, will have no choice but to share before reading. Or better yet, allow them to read for a few seconds and then have a popup that requires them to share. Then they’ll really be hooked and will have no choice but to do your bidding.

9. Show your visitors your contempt for them by throwing all usability considerations out the window

Here’s just a handful of ideas you can use to really expand upon this:

  • Ensure each page has more ads than one man can conceivably read in a week
  • Put the actual content several page-lengths from the top of the page, forcing everyone to scroll all the way down
  • Have a mobile site that is about 80% fixed ads and menu, so that at any given time, users can only see about 2 lines of text
  • Popunders are so much better than popovers

While you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to install a tracking virus on every computer that visits so that you can find these people in real life, go to their homes, and literally spit in their faces. A well-placed cinder block through their window couldn’t hurt either.


Hopefully with these strategies in mind, you will be left with renewed vigor in focusing even less on producing quality content and more on coming up with lifeless, asinine headlines that no one with an IQ under 80 could resist. Good luck!

About Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is a website developer and designer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a passion for code and WordPress. He spends his days building WordPress websites for small businesses, developing new code with the online community, and living life.

2 Comments on “9 Tips for Writing Effective Clickbait Headlines for Your Garbage Content”

  1. TLDR
    where are all the ads? scrolled past this boring text, needs more pics for me to clicks! Not a single emoji in text body, amateur hour…

    Actually this was great. Thanks for a breath of fresh air.

  2. Great article. I think there is a room full of epsilons cranking this stuff out.
    Amish miracle heaters of same ilk. Trying to figure out who the point zero developer of this drivel is.

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