1 Put a Number in the Title
People like numbers. They feel finite and understandable, as if they could contain the expanses of the universe in a plastic tea-cup or a numbered list.
2 Make Difficult Tasks Sound Achievable in Finite, Incremental Steps
Rule the world in 3 easy steps. 5 ways to stop cancer. 10 reasons people like you can be more successful than you are. 7 secrets of ultimate happiness and fulfillment. 8 simple, easy steps to create world peace. 13 ways to be awesome even when you’re not. 101 ways to write a list. I want to read those articles too (particularly the one about becoming awesome).
3 Be Inflammatory/Controversial
Yes, your content probably is stupid, just like this list. If people didn’t click on stupid content–for that matter if I didn’t click on stupid content–this list wouldn’t exist.
4 Use Headings.
No one reads beyond the heading. Juice pickle canteen widget porcupine. High-five thirty-seven surfer pillow gargoyle. Could you spare a spimoli?
5 Don’t Create Knowledge.
Don’t do original research. Don’t do more than a sixth grade summary of someone else’s work, and don’t by any means tell them anything they couldn’t have figured out on their own with ten minutes and a search engine. (Yes, your content is stupid)
6 Include an Adorable Cat Picture
(is there any other kind?)
7 *Bonus* Include a Bonus
A bonus item to help users feel like they got more than what they came here for. If they came for six stupid things they could have figured out themselves then seven stupid things they could have figured out themselves will be more than they were looking for.
8 Double Bonus: Cat Pic + Impact Font
Add poorly spelled words in impact font to adorable cat picture. That makes it work every time.
Finally, your list complete, double bonuses (boni?) included, sit back to watch the clicks roll in and your audience leave disappointed. Every time I have clicked on a link bait article, I have always felt used afterward, because by the time I see your stupid content and recognize it for what it is, your analytics has already captured my pageview and I have no way to protest.
But don’t worry, your advertisers will be glad to see your Alexa ranking, and you’ll make money. All at the expense of your humanity.
9 Triple Bonus: Recognize a Mistake to Add Personality
Wait, this article is exactly what I railed against.
I feel… dirty.
I’m going to go watch some Masterpiece Theater…