For as long as we remember, clickbait has been the bane of a critical and distinguishing audience but a boon for marketers. Last Friday night, five industry experts – Ammon Johns, Dawn Anderson, Jan-Willem Bobbink, Tony Dimmock and our very own Rohan Ayyar – sat down for a round table discussion, courtesy SEMrush.

Here’s a quick introduction of all the notable speakers.

  • Ammon Johns is believed to have coined the expression “search engine marketing” and described by various industry veterans as a pioneer and expert in the field of SEO and SEM. He has worked with several biggies including Aviva, Dooyoo AG, CNN, and Legal and General.
  • Dawn Anderson is the Director of Move It Marketing, who has 10 years of experience SEO. Her specialty lies in SEO, technical SEO, content marketing, backlink cleansing and social media marketing.
  • Jan-Willem Bobbink made his first website when he was 16. He is currently working as a Freelance SEO consultant for huge sites. His domain is solving algorithmic Panda & Penguin devaluations, manual penalties and support introduction in foreign markets.
  • Tony Dimmock, Director of Dimmock Web Marketing, is deeply interested in web search psychology, user experience and the semantic web and is quite anti-clickbait.
  • Rohan Ayyar is the Indian SEO community’s poster boy who eats, drinks and thinks digital marketing. He’s always one step ahead of the rest of us when it comes to riding trends in content search engines, content marketing trends and conversions.

Clickbait Webinar

If, for some reason, you were not able to attend but are a concerned digital marketer who hates click-bait as much as we do, here are a few key takeaways from the discussion.

Please note: I haven’t quoted the participants verbatim here. Rather, I jotted down what I thought was important as the webinar was streamed, and have later reconstructed the statements trying to keep the original meaning and intent intact.

Ammon Johns

Click-bait is a gray area which is going to lead you to trouble eventually. [Tweet this]

Don’t publish unless you are a media company or a publishing company. Most people don’t add value but dilute content with links. [Tweet this]

Do I want to be known after 10 years for tweeting, sharing this? 30% tweets are automated, so tweets and RTs are not actually tweets or RTs. [Tweet this]

I don’t want my name to be associated with MarketingLand or SearchEngineLand, considering their current quality of content. [Tweet this]

My audience should see 20 years of integrity and reputation when they see any content from me. [Tweet this]

Digital marketing is less respected than TV advertising. [Tweet this]

Sentiment of content is the metric which will replace social shares. [Tweet this]

Rohan Ayyar

If you live by clicks, you’ll die by clicks. Brands need to understand that clicks, like pricing, can lead to their downfall ultimately.[Tweet this]

All readers can’t have the same level of understanding, so thought-leaders need to think twice before they make sweeping statements. [Tweet this]

There are 3 players in the clickbait game – the reader, the publisher and the advertiser. [Tweet this]

Advertising influences the publisher to use clickbait. [Tweet this]

Our engagement metrics are broken. Rather than clicks, views and shares, we should use “time on site” or “percent viewed” as a metric. [Tweet this]

Advertisers are getting ripped off as clickbait can get them traffic but that traffic does nothing. [Tweet this]

If you use clickbait, you will always be Daily Mail, you will never become Guardian. [Tweet this]

Get rid of your content calendar. Vet your contributors well and let them come to you when they have something valuable to share. [Tweet this]

Publishers shouldn’t compete with each other. You can’t copy someone’s popularity. [Tweet this]

You can’t reverse engineer virality. You’re not going to become Elon Musk just by waking up at 5 AM. [Tweet this]

Tony Dimmock

It’s the case of supply and demand. SEOs like to write a lot. It has become more of ego-stroking and ego-bait. [Tweet this]

Every business has an audience that wants niche, informative content. Too much content and you lose the edge, the core message, the USP. [Tweet this]

Publishers have to stop thinking “content is king.” [Tweet this]

You can’t always publish in a week or a day. My recent blog post took me three months to finish. [Tweet this]

Your footprint affects your reputation; it is your reputation. You need to represent yourself and your brand well through your content. [Tweet this]

We have to be critical thinkers and readers. [Tweet this]

Dawn Anderson

Very few opinion pieces have any evidence to support them. [Tweet this]

Many contributors are allowed to write for major publications just because they are respected in the industry. [Tweet this]

Publishers should consider peer reviewing articles prior to publication as is the case in academia. [Tweet this]

Jan-Willem Bobbink

More marketers = more content = more crap. [Tweet this]

A lot of people want to share their knowledge and that has led to a lot of crap. [Tweet this]

Patrick Whalen [Moderator]

Clickbait has not just become a norm but a tide that has engulfed the entire industry. [Tweet this]

The positive benefits of click baiting are short-lived. The damage is irreversible. [Tweet this]

Instead of time of publishing, focus on timeless content. Take your time, but only give out the truth. [Tweet this]

Think twice about what you are publishing. Think twice about what you are sharing and how it is affecting your brand. [Tweet this]

Insights from the Audience

The webinar audience was equally engaged and we picked up some really smart quotes from them too…

Wrapping Up

So what do you think about these tweet-worthy takeaways? Once you are done reading and tweeting, think critically how you can apply them to your business. Have you gotten into the habit of producing crap? Are you falling prey to ego-stroking? Do your op-ed pieces actually have an opinion? What metrics are you using to measure success?

And the most important question –

Will you be caught unprepared when Google starts measuring the sentiment of reactions to your content?