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:
- Click bait.
- Comment bait.
- Link bait.
- 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.
- 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.
- A direct question.
- A strong, emotional opinion.
- A controversial point of view.
- A cry for help.
Link bait: A post that inspires people to link to it from their own blogs.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.