Optimizing links: Avoid using “click here” in link text

Optimizing links: Avoid using “click here” in link text

For years, digital copywriters and content strategists have recommended against using “click here” in link text, so why does it still appear on websites and in email? Perhaps the very prevalence of “click here” in digital content fuels its continued use. It doesn’t help that many respectable companies continue to include the phrase in links on their websites.

Of course, some may argue that “click here” is an effective call to action that performs well against alternative language in A/B testing. Even if that were true, consider the SEO, accessibility, and usability implications before encouraging visitors to your website—or recipients of your email messages—to “click here.”

Five tips for writing better text links

1. Create mobile-friendly content.

In an age of smartphones and touchscreens, “click here” is a mechanical-based term that no longer accurately describes how a growing number of users engage with digital content. People who visit your website using a mobile device—without a mouse or a keyboard—can’t click anything. Moreover, “click here” focuses on the mechanics of a physical action rather than on the content of your website.

2. Write content that’s easy to scan.

Most of us don’t read digital content. (Sorry, copywriters.) Eyetracking research shows that we tend to scan pages in an F-shaped reading pattern, on desktop and on mobile, paying particular attention to headings, subheads, bulleted lists, and anything else that catches our eye. When you follow usability guidelines for displaying text links—underlining the text and using a different color from the surrounding copy—text links pop out. A link that says “click here” grabs our attention, but it provides no concrete description of what information the linked content contains.

For example, compare these two text links:

To schedule a product demo, click here.

Schedule a product demo.

Both links grab attention, but only the second one immediately describes what action you’re taking by following it.

3. Optimize your links for users and search engines.

Google and other search engines use web crawlers to access web content and determine your placement on search engine results pages. Many different factors can increase the ranking of a webpage, including the page title, headings, and anchor text in the links. Relevant, keyword-rich links are important because they help Google understand the content of targeted pages. Using the example above, “click here” offers little useful information to a search engine crawler, other than the simple fact that the content contains a link. “Schedule a product demo” is action-oriented and tells the crawler—and the user—exactly what everyone needs to know.

4. Make a good impression with your content.

Back in the day when the World Wide Web was new (and grunge music was king), many people might not have understood what to do with a hyperlink. Content creators may have used “click here” as a way to educate newbies about what action to take when they came across a link.

That was then, this is now. Today, almost everyone understands how to interact with digital content. Using “click here” in your links may give visitors to your website the impression that your content hasn’t been updated since the heady days of Friendster, Netscape Navigator, and  Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.

5. Consider how assistive technologies handle links.

Accessibility is an essential part of delivering a positive, inclusive user experience. The World Wide Web Consortium, the international standards organization for the web, maintains that websites should be accessible to all users, including people with disabilities. Think about how a link that says “click here” might come across to someone who can’t use a mouse or a keyboard.

“Click here” links can pose additional challenges for those who use screen readers. Most screen readers say, “Link,” to inform users that a piece of text, an image, or a graphic is a link.

For example, consider the following two calls to action:

Click here to get tips on writing accessible hypertext links from WebAIM, a leading provider of web accessibility solutions.

Get tips on writing accessible hypertext links from WebAIM, a leading provider of web accessibility solutions.

With the first link, a user navigating a website with a screen reader might hear, “Link, click here.” With the second link, a user might hear, “Link, get tips on writing accessible hypertext links.” Clearly, the second link provides more information and a superior user experience that is accessible to all.

Avoid using other ambiguous text links

“Click here” isn’t the only vague link text common in digital content today. The web is filled with similar links that provide little information to users, particularly when viewed out of context. For example:

  • Learn more
  • Read more
  • More
  • Go
  • Here
  • Go here
  • Continue
  • See details
  • Click for details

Writing good anchor text for your links—and not relying on these and other indefinite, well-worn phrases—is a key part of developing user-focused, search engine-optimized content for websites and email campaigns.

Guidelines for optimizing your links

Following a few tips can help optimize your links for search engines and improve the overall accessibility and usability of your website.

  • Use specific, concrete words and phrases. Clearly communicate what users will find when they follow a link.
  • Write descriptive text that can stand on its own. Most people scan digital content, so users should be able to understand where a link will go without reading the surrounding text.
  • Set appropriate expectations. The linked content should match what the user expected to find when they followed the link.
  • Be concise. There is no maximum word count for links, but very long links can compromise the user experience. A few words or a short phrase works best.
  • Start with keywords. To maximize the chance that users will find what they’re looking for, frontload links with informative language.
  • Focus on content rather than on mechanics. In other words, avoid using “click here” in your text links.

For more tips on using links wisely, take a look at Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide.

CRC Marketing Solutions is a Minneapolis, Minnesota, digital agency that creates and executes ideas for building business.