What Does Clickbait Mean?

Clickbait consists of attention-grabbing headlines used for Web content to lure readers into clicking on normally uninteresting content. Many websites use clickbait as a mechanism to gain popularity via higher click-through rates. Clickbait is characterized by a highly enticing headline with a hyperlink that, when clicked, reveals a website that has content that is not nearly as interesting as the headline. Clickbait is therefore considered to be a strategy to increase the number of views to a particular Web page.


Techopedia Explains Clickbait

Clickbait is used to direct the user to a page that may require payment, registration or a set of pages in order to increase the page views for the site. Clickbait works by making use of the curiosity-gap principle. The sensational headline of the clickbait helps in raising the curiosity of the readers, and thus gets them to click the link to the Web page. For instance, consider an entertainment website. An example of a non-clickbait link might say, “See how this celebrity lost 10 pounds last month.”

Clickbait headlines for this same story might be:

  • You’ll never believe how much weight this celebrity lost in a month!
  • Celebrity weight loss secrets finally revealed!
  • Shocking details of this celebrity’s latest diet!

Clickbait is essentially bait that websites place for visitors. They are commonly used as part of social media marketing. But the rising popularity and ubiquitous nature of clickbait has led to many to consider it a dishonest strategy, that under delivers on the expectation it builds up. The term is considered to be a pejorative term that presents a degradation of the quality of Web content. The audience whose curiosity was enticed by the catchy headlines find the content not worthy enough to satisfy their curiosity.

Many popular news and entertainment sites present clickbait in addition to legitimate articles. While many websites claim that they do not use clickbait and present satisfying information, general audiences consider it a widely used strategy as many social media sites are filled with such hyperlinks.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.