Should your website contain provocative web content?

Posted on June 9, 2017

 

A large proportion of visitors often leave a web page in less than 10 seconds. In order for them to stay longer, you need content to grab and hold their attention. One way to do this is to use provocative content.

There is an art to provocative content. If you get it wrong, then your content could be viewed as clickbait and will put off visitors. Content can be edgy, but not aggressive. Provocative content challenges and amuses but it is not about bragging or boasting. Content should tease and lure but not insult readers. Provocative content can be controversial and can be mildly shocking, but it should not descend into bad taste.

The internet and social media may contain trolls who love to insult and complain, but using this approach on your website is not a wise way to write provocative content.

The headline

Provocative content starts with a headline that is designed to grab attention. Headlines can make statements, ask thought-provoking questions, or create the fear of missing out. Examples of headlines that achieve this are:

Add 10 years to your life by cutting out this
Is your blog suffering from these design mistakes?
10 reasons why you should be doing this form of exercise
Are these everyday foods harmful your health?

Headline styles

There are several provocative headline styles that can be used. The ‘how to’ headline promises to answer a question. “How to find the perfect job” and “How to attract more followers to your social media account” are provocative headlines that promise to show the reader how to do something.

The “get what you want” headline promises to show readers how they can achieve what they really want. An example of this is “10 ways to become rich by making money online.”

Facts and figures in headlines can provoke by quoting statistics that may seem exaggerated: “Eight out of ten teenagers use their mobile phone more than 50 times a day” and “80% of the most successful entrepreneurs dropped out of college” are examples of this.

Predictions and trend headlines can lure in readers, especially if they appear exaggerated. “Robots will outnumber humans in the workplace by 2020” gives a prediction and may appear exaggerated at first glance.

Deliver on the headline promise

A provocative headline promises something and encourages visitors to read more. This means that the content must be 100% relative to the headline otherwise readers will feel let down. The headline promises an answer or an explanation and the content following the headline must fulfil that promise otherwise visitors may consider your article to be clickbait, and this brings largely negative connotations.

If the headline is making a claim, then that claim must be justified by the content to work well. Appropriate experts and sources need to be quoted or linked to in order to justify the claims or statistics that the headline suggests.

Should your site use provocative content?

Creating provocative content is not easy but can be effective. If used tastefully and accurately, then it can be a great way to attract readers and encourage them to stay on your website. If it is done badly, then it can have the opposite effect, causing visitors to abandon the website or have a negative impression of your brand.

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