Stop telling me where to click

Sometime near the beginning of links on the internet, people decided that click here was a good way to get people to click there. If I had to guess, the reason for this is probably that at the beginning of the internet people didnt know what links were, so you had to explicitly tell them to click here. The good news is that now its 20 years later, and people know what to do when they see links.

Here are some reasons you should change your click here ways…

People dont read, they scan.

Links should pop out of the body text on the page. They should be a different color (preferably blue) and they really ought to be underlined. These are common methods of differentiating links from the rest of the text. The result of this is that links tend to jump out, and they should! The problem is, most people dont actually read all the copy on the page. They read headlines, they look at pictures, and they catch links. If all your links say click here, theres no context for what theyre about to click on. Its not going to help the user experience, and its not going to keep people interested in your website.

Accessiblility actually matters.

For people with sight disabilities, screen readers read all the content of the screen out loud, and the devices can group things like headlines and links together to make the information easier to access. Its the non-visual equivalent of scanning the page (see above). The problem is, the links will only be as descriptive for those users as you make them. If there are 5 links on the page and 4 of them just say click here, youre going to have some extremely frustrated users.

SEO anyone?

Everyone seems to care a lot about having great keywords and meta descriptions, but too few people pay attention to the fact that all of that is just additional information to search engines. When you type something into a search engine, the weight of the results is in this order (more or less):

  1. more inbound links (links from other websites to yours gives your site more credibility)
  2. headlines
  3. links (this is what were talking about)
  4. everything else!

Using semantic links can actually raise your sites search ranking if you have links that might help answer a search query.

So how do you write good links?

Keep your links short and to the point. Dont fluff them up because it wont help you as much as you think. Definitely dont make entire sentences links. Its confusing and unnecessary. Make sure your links are informative for what is being linked to, but dont be repetitive, and dont pander. Here are some examples:

BAD:?? I love LimeRed Studio, click here to visit their website.
OK:?? I love LimeRed Studio, visit the LimeRed Studio website.
BEST:?? I love LimeRed Studio.

BAD:?? To learn more about whatever, click here.
OK:?? Learn more about whatever.
BEST:?? Learn more about whatever.

BAD:?? Click here to download the iPod Touch User Guide.
OK:?? Download the iPod Touch User Manual.
BEST:?? Download the iPod Touch User Guide.

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