Four Baiting Types: Click, Comment, Link, And Bookmark

We all write blog posts to elicit a response from our readers. In the web world, this usually means reader clicks, comments, links, and bookmarks. Perhaps instinctively, when we do want to inspire a response, many bloggers seem to write four types of content:

  1. Click bait.
  2. Comment bait.
  3. Link bait.
  4. Bookmark bait.

I use the word “bait” in the friendliest light – content that is attractive to readers. Let me define each content type:

Click bait: A post with an attractive headline that inspires people to click the link to read the full article.

Characteristics:

  • Interesting headlines like “Why I Can’t Stand Hairless Cats”
  • Headlines with superlatives like “Best” or “Worst”.
  • Headlines promising brevity like “Top Ten” or “Five Steps”

Example: Valleywag: Loser-Generated Content

Comment bait: A post that inspires a reader to leave a comment on your blog.

Characteristics:

  • A direct question.
  • A strong, emotional opinion.
  • A controversial point of view.
  • A cry for help.

Example: Essential Keystrokes: What To Do About Hotlinked Images?

Link bait: A post that inspires people to link to it from their own blogs.

Characteristics:

  • A breaking news item.
  • A half-baked opinion that could stand to be elaborated upon.
  • A question that is too difficult to answer via a brief comment.
  • A blog meme or link train.
  • A blog contest.

Example: Brent Evans: 17 Year Old Girl Turns MySpace Themes into Million Dollar Business

Bookmark bait: An post that is so compelling or chock full of information that the reader is inspired to bookmark it to return to at a later date.

Characteristics:

  • Technical information: A tutorial on how to complete a technical task with step by step instructions, images, example files, and links to further learning resources.
  • Reference information: A top 100 list of restaurants of a particular area and the recipes for their best dishes.
  • Passion: A unique, personal story that comes from the heart.

Examples: Skelliewag: 101 Essential Blogging Skills, Lorelle At WordPress: Hundreds of Resources for Finding Content for Your Blog, Internet Duct Tape: 76 Romantic Flicks for Guys and Girls

Each content type, while attractive to readers, has its disadvantages:

Click bait could describe a post where the headline is the only useful thing about it. At worst, the snappy headline leads to a blog post containing just two sentences, a blockquote from some other blog, and scads of sad ads.

Comment and link bait can easily lead to sensational content: either controversial (possibly offensive) for the sake of attracting attention or time sensitive posts that have a very short shelf-life.

Bookmark bait requires the most work and actual expert knowledge or tons of time-consuming research regarding the subject.

So what can one learn from organizing posts into these four categories?

  • As I browse through my feed reader, the vast majority of blog posts I encounter fall into the first three categories. I read most blog posts once. 99% of the time, I don’t feel any need to read them again. For me, bookmark bait is rare.
  • A post can be a combination of several of the above content types – or all four simultaneously. The ultimate blogging quality goal may be a mythical high quality post that inspires clicks, comments, links, and bookmarks all at once.
  • If my goal is to generate more traffic, I might focus on click and comment bait.
  • If my goal is to generate more links, I might focus on link and bookmark bait.
  • Different content types will influence posting frequency. A blogger that produces quality bookmark bait could retain me as a loyal reader even if they only posted once a week. A blogger focusing on click and link bait must post many times a week (or day) to make up for the lack of quality.

In conclusion, your personal blogging goals should dictate your writing style. For me, organizing the content I read into categories helped analyze my own writing and inspired some strategies I plan to use in the future.

Comments

  1. says

    Great post..Even I have observed that the popularity of my post is dependent to a great extent on the heading..

    Btw, this post is a bit of everything..! ;)

  2. says

    Jason – you did a great job of classifying the types of posts – and pointing out things I had not even thought about. And thanks for using one of mine as an example.

  3. says

    Jason,
    Useful post. I wonder if there should be a fifth one though. I would add “search engine bait” to the list. I know this one could potentially fall under any of the other four at times, but I know there are certain posts that I write that I KNOW will attract a lot of searches over time. I’m always on the lookout for things I think my readers might be searching for. In the end this brings more viewers and hopefully makes me write content that my readers want to read.

    By the way, thanks for including my post as an example. I appreciate it!

    Brent

  4. says

    Brent, that is a good addition. I didn’t think of that because I don’t deliberately write about subjects based on common search engine keywords. But I might now do a little research into that strategy.

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