What Is Clickbait?

D Rendered Computer Mice and Mousetrap Conceptual Clickbait Image With Clipping Path

What is clickbait? We have been asked this question enough times that I felt I should post about the subject. Let’s have a look!

Clickbait Definition

Merriam-Webster defines clickbait as “Something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.” However, clickbait is not limited to the written word. There are plenty of visual examples, too.

Clickbail Examples

Example #1

“Kelly Ripa Literally Shocked Fans With Her Insane Bikini Instagram Photo.” If you like Kelly Ripa and you wonder what she looks like in a bikini, you are definitely a target of this clickbait headline. Kelly’s “Insane Bikini” photo is so mild, that I doubt if it shocked anyone. The photo is a family shot from 2008. Have a look for yourself:

Kelly Ripa photo used for clickbait.

Most people commenting on the picture just shared their admiration for Kelly’s figure after having three kids. (She posted the picture as a promo for her new TV show “Generation Gap.”)

Getting back to the headline, if you clicked and didn’t find an “Insane Bikini” picture of Kelly, what did you find? ADs! Lots and lots of advertisements.

Example #2


If you think the video above has anything to do with sex, you fell for the clickbait thumbnail and heading. Still, there have been 1.4 million views of this video on YouTube. (You can click on the picture if you want to see what the video is really about.)

Clickbait is…Annoying

For me, the most annoying types of clickbait are the ones that tell a story through slideshows or “Next” options. Every time you click to see the next slide, more ads appear. These stories take forever to go through but could have been told in one page. Want to see a perfect example of what I mean? Just click HERE.

Social Engineering Often Uses Clickbait

As I explained in my post, “Social Engineering: The Weakest Link In The Chain,” one of the three types of Social Engineering is when it appeals to your dreams and desires. Spam emails often use clickbait to get you to go to a website. For example: “Click here to win a $50 Amazon card.”

Is Clickbait Always Bad?

If you use the Merriam-Webster definition I opened with, clickbait is always negative. However, clickbait that doesn’t lead to an overabundance of ads or scams might just be a good advertising method. You’ll need to decide that on your own when you run across the types of headings and pictures I’ve described in this post.

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About the Author

John Grubb

I've been working on computers since 1983! I love helping people resolve their computing issues and sharing preventative measures, as well.

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