Let’s face it — clickbait works. Here’s how to use it to your advantage

Hook people with a creative title using the right words as "bait," and searchers will click your links, says contributor John Lincoln. Here are 9 examples of successful titles that encourage better click-through rates.

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Fish BaitNo two ways about it — clickbait works!

With the right page title, you can get people to click on your link in the search engine results pages (SERPs). That means you’ll get more clicks on call-to-action (CTA) elements on your website, which, in turn, should boost your bottom line.

If you’re interested in getting a better click-through rate (CTR) in the search results, then maybe it’s time to up your page title game. Fortunately, you can draw inspiration from others who’ve crafted titles that encourage clicks.

In this article, we’ll look at nine examples of outstanding page titles and go over what they have that makes them appealing and highly clickable.

1. The dynamic template

Travel website TripAdvisor uses a title that’s more of a template than an actual title. That’s because the marketing team applies the same title format to different regions.

For example, if you search for “best hotels in San Francisco,” you’ll see that TripAdvisor appears toward the top of the SERPs with this headline:  “The 10 Best Hotels in San Francisco, CA for 2018 (from $76).”


That’s a great headline for a few different reasons.

First, it’s directly related to the query. So anyone who enters that search term in a search engine will be happy with that result.

Second, it uses the current year. That tells people the information on the page is up to date.

Putting the current year in the title is an old favorite trick of search engine optimization specialists (SEOs). If you want to increase your CTR, try adding the year to some of your titles. Even if you don’t make any other changes, you’ll likely see a bump in clicks.

Another reason the TripAdvisor headline works is because it includes the low price right in the title.

Most last-minute travelers would be ecstatic if they could find a hotel in San Francisco for just $76 per night. But the key takeaway here is that TripAdvisor uses that title template for other major cities.

For example, if you search “best hotels in San Diego,” you’ll see a TripAdvisor result in the SERPs with this title:  “The 10 Best Hotels in San Diego, CA for 2018 (from $59).”


Does that look familiar? It should. It’s the same title you saw with the San Francisco search, except the city name and the price are different.

Think about how you can use the TripAdvisor strategy in your own title optimization efforts. Here is the template:

The (number) Best (category) in (city), (state) for (year) (from $ (lowest price)

2. Using headlines

Next, search for “motorcycle helmets.” Skip the ads, go straight to the organic results and take a look at the first page of the results list.

As of this writing, the top result is from RevZilla. I’ve looked at the optimization on RevZilla a lot. They do a great job for e-commerce search engine optimization (SEO).

Here’s what the search result looks like and the title:  “Motorcycle Helmets | Fast, Free Shipping!”

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That’s pretty good. The title perfectly matches the search query, and it promises fast and free shipping. Those two points are very important for potential buyers.

Scroll down a little more. Take a look at the BikeBandit title:  “Motorcycle Helmets – Best Reviews & Cheap Prices on Motorcycle…”

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First, note that the headline gets cut off. That’s why you see an ellipsis at the end. Try to avoid letting that happen with your titles. Keep them brief.

Also, think about what they put in the dynamic title. Best reviews? What does that really mean? And cheap prices? That is positive, but it’s best not to use the word “cheap” in marketing, since it can have a negative connotation.

RevZilla is really hitting on what users want. Yes, their title is short, but it gets the job done.

3. Coupons.com

Search for “coupons.” It’s a keyword that operates in a very crowded space, but it’s worth checking out, since it’s frequently searched for.

Unsurprisingly, the Coupons.com website ranks in first place. Given the competitive nature of this phrase, a solid title is important.

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One of the main thing to consider when optimizing a coupon website is how many types of coupons you are planning to optimize per category.

The biggest terms are:

  • Free coupons.
  • Printable coupons.
  • Grocery coupons.
  • Coupon codes.

In some cases, coupon sites try to optimize for all of these phrases in a category. In others, they break them up. Out of this group, Coupons.com has done the best job. Their title has been optimized for Printable Coupons, Grocery & Coupon Codes | Coupons.com

We can see they are optimizing for all the top terms, still getting branding in there and manage not to have their title cut off for being too long.

One thing they may want to test would be a template like this: Get 2,000 Printable Coupons, Grocery & Coupon Codes Now!

4. Location-based page

Next, search for the term “car insurance” which is another extremely crowded space.

Scroll down a bit, and you will probably see a location page by Geico. Here is the title for Geico page:  San Diego Car Insurance | GEICO

This is an example of a page that can be improved. I would recommend rewriting to look like this: Best San Diego Car Insurance – You Could Save $500+ | GEICO

They use this language on other page titles on the site, so it could really increase CTR here.

5. Step-by-step guides

Search “how to become an RN.” Here, “RN” stands for registered nurse.

Once again, scroll through the SERPs. Which result stands out?


The Rasmussen.edu title seems like it would attract the most clicks, since it’s positioned very well and has this text in the title: “Your Step-by-Step Guide.” That kind of help is exactly what people are looking for when they search for “how to become an RN.” They need a guide that will take them through each step of the process.

People searching for info often want a hand-holding tutorial. That’s why the “Dummies” books are still in print after all these years. They’re designed for people who are completely unfamiliar with whatever it is they’re trying to learn.

Think about how you can structure your “How to” titles so they appeal to people who don’t know anything about the subject.

6. Numbers win

If you search for “power words,”you’ll see the top results are packed with numbers in the headlines.

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For example, the first result is from OptinMonster: “700+ Power Words That Will Boost Your Conversions.” That rightly deserves to be toward the top.

Why? For starters, it has a higher number than anything else on the first page. Scroll down, and you’ll see that all the other titles use numbers that are lower than 700.

Second, the title promises a benefit. If you use their power words, you’ll “boost your conversions.”

That’s an easy formula to follow. Curate a listicle with a high number of items, and create a title that explains how people will benefit from reading it.

7. Promote accuracy

Sitting at #3 is this title, “Internet Ad Spend Is About to Surpass TV Ad Spend [New Report],” after searching on “Internet ad spend.”

The actual keyword is in the headline itself, and that will draw attention from searchers.

Second, note that bracketed segment at the end: “[New Report].”


That’s telling users the article has some data to back up the claim in the headline. It’s a golden rule of advertising to rely on expert witnesses in ad copy, and you can do that in your headlines as well.

8. Recurring theme

Do you see a recurring theme in the search results when you look for “Snapchat marketing?”

The top three results all use the word “ultimate” in the title. For example, the top result is “The Ultimate Guide to Snapchat Marketing.”


So, when in doubt about what to do, curate a “one-stop shop” list with a keyword popular in your niche. Then, create a title with the word “ultimate” in it.

For example: “The Ultimate Guide to Winning the Buy Box on Amazon.”

In that case, the keyword is “winning the buy box.” The article will contain several great pieces of advice that Amazon marketers can follow so their products win the Buy Box.


The user here wants a full guide. Winning the buy box is not an easy thing, and the more information they can find on it the better.

9. Guarantees

Next, search for “saltwater fishing rods.” Scroll through the results list.

Toward the top, you’ll see the typical “boring” results. They match the keyword but don’t add any text that encourages people to click the link.


But it’s a different story for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Their title reads “Saltwater Rods | Best Price Guarantee at Dick’s.”

That’s an incentive, isn’t it? Dick’s is telling people they guarantee their prices can’t be beaten.

Money-minded consumers will find that appealing, so it’s highly likely they’ll click the link before checking out the rest of the results because it appeals to their cost-saving senses.


Write your titles so they outmaneuver the competition in the SERPs. Even if you can’t beat them in rank, you might be able to beat them in clicks.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for Search Engine Land and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the search community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

John E Lincoln
John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, a digital marketing agency and an Inc. 5000 company. Lincoln is consistently named one of the top marketing experts in the industry. He has been a recipient of the Search Engine Land "Search Marketer of the Year" award, named the #1 SEO consultant in the US by Clutch.co, most admired CEO and 40 under 40. Lincoln has written two books (The Forecaster Method and Digital Influencer) and made two movies (SEO: The Movie and Social Media Marketing: The Movie) on digital marketing.

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