Save Your Reputation – Avoid Clickbait


Your Ads Should Help Your Customers

The purpose of online advertising is to connect potential customers with products and services they want or need. That means your ads should help your customers find what they want. 

In theory, this concept is quite easy to grasp; in practice, though we can get muddled. 

Sometimes our desire for sales causes us to miss the point entirely. For example, we might start by asking ourselves, “How do I get people to click this ad?” It’s not a bad question but unfettered this line of thinking is notorious for creating what is now known as “clickbait.” We all see the clickbait ads and headlines:

“Make $10k Per Month Part-Time”
“Lose 45 pounds in 45 days”
“This One Trick Will Get You A Free Car”

All of these headlines sound too good to be true (because they are). That’s exactly how clickbait works. It’s the bait and switch tactics we all rightfully hate.

Sometimes Clickbait is An Accident.

Sometimes in our enthusiasm to get all the clicks, we try to sprinkle in buzzwords such as “free,” “shocked” and ad 7 too many exclamation points. 

“FREE! FREE! FREE! Pool Skimmer!!! With Swimming Pool Purchase!”

Even a legitimate offer looks like clickbait when it uses spammy language. Too much emotion tends to come across as spam. Is the offer really worth screaming over? We can avoid this easily by having the emotion of the ad match the offer. Behold the difference: “Free Pool Skimmer With Swimming Pool Purchase.”

Clickbait is Irritating.

It might generate clicks, but it isn’t helpful. We’ve all clicked a headline or ad only to click away as soon as the page loaded because we realized it was complete trash. I don’t particularly appreciate clicking on clickbait of any kind. If I see “You’ll be Shocked when You See Our Shoe Prices,” it immediately makes me wonder how they know how I’ll respond? And I keep on scrolling. Instead, I often click simple ads such as “Shoe Sale: Best Prices of the Year” or “25% off Shoes.” In this case, that ad might not be as eye-catching, but the claim isn’t outlandish. 

Clickbait Costs Your Business Money.

Most internet ads are Pay Per Click. So if you are running clickbaity (I’d like to believe it’s a real word) headlines you are really just throwing your money away. When users leave the page in a hurry, your Google Ads Quality Score could take a hit. In Google Ads, a lower Quality Score typically comes with a penalty of a higher pay per click price. You can read about that here. Further, clickbait tarnishes a company’s reputation. Being labeled as a company that uses “bait and switch” tactics can have a massive impact as users start leaving online reviews.

How We Can Avoid Being Evil Clickbait Monsters

Focus on Helping the Consumer.

If you have a great product that you believe in and you know that people will benefit from it, then your marketing doesn’t need to overhype it. On one hand, ads can appear as spam or like clickbait. On the other hand, ads and headlines become appreciated when they help the consumer find something they need or want. Start by answering the questions that you know they are asking. While this seems obvious when we are promoting a product, our motivation often creates a bias. Being too close to a product also can make it challenging to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. Try to take a step back from just making the sale. What do people ask when they are first looking into the product? 

Research How People Search. 

A trick to do this is to open a Private Tab in your web browser and go to Then start typing and use the Google autocomplete to see how people search. It can be surprising.

Per our Google Ads search query reports, these type of Google searches lead form fill outs, phone calls, or store visits:

  1. Hot Tubs For Sale Near me
  2. Cheap Hot Tub Sale
  3. Best Hot Tub Dealer near me
  4. Best Hot Tub Brands

Nearly all searches are worded just like that, or some very close variation. It can be a bit surprising how uncomplicated these search queries are. Knowing what people want makes creating headlines much easier. People are only looking for a few things. A good deal, a reliable tub/brand, and a trustworthy dealer.

Here is an example of a high performing Google Search Ad (Company name/ cities have been changed):

This ad isn’t flashy or in your face. But it’s accurate and it answers all 4 of the most searched questions. Now the order of the 3 headlines could be re-arranged. At the Get Smart Group, we test the order and text of our headlines regularly to find the best combinations. Now, the point of this article isn’t really tackling how to write effective ads but the closely-related topic: the avoidance of writing headlines and ads that tarnish your business’ reputation, and in turn, your SEO.

Build Your Authority.

Researching how your customers search for you attracts customers by showing off your business and product authority. You can focus on meeting your customers where they are. With these principles in mind, it’s easy to opt-out of sensational headlines and instead focus on helping your customers. When they trust you and feel helped by you, they are more likely to buy from you. Which obviously helps your business.

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We understand how tough it can be to wrap your head around digital marketing.  With all of the different services available, the variety of software… it is a lot to digest! Here at The Get Smart Group we are happy to provide free consultations to answer any marketing questions about your business.  Simply fill out the form below and we will be happy to get something scheduled.