There is a problem on the web that has persisted for surprising long, and we need to fix it. I’m talking about using the words “click here” in link text. If you’re currently doing this, don’t worry, you are not alone. Everyone from bloggers to well-trained and highly-skilled web professionals still use this phrase.
“Click here” comes from a time when no one understood how links worked and people still referred to them as hyperlinks. Webpage authors had the burden of not only authoring good content but also teaching people how to use the web itself.
These days, links are well understood. We can unburden ourselves and improve the usability of our link text.
The Usability Issues
Using “click here” or just “here” as link text creates many usability issues. Here are five.
First, and most importantly, is the accessibility problem. Linking the words “click here” negatively impacts everyone who relies on a screen reader. This is because screen readers can scan a webpage by its links, similar to how most people visually scan a page. A page with well-crafted link text makes this a more pleasant experience and puts lesser-abled people on the same footing. However, if all of our links say “click here,” this scanning mode becomes a useless parroting of “click here, click here, click here…” Our lesser-abled friends deserve better.
Second is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Link text is essential to SEO, allowing search engines to infer the context of the linked reference and relate that to the current page. This relationship naturally increases the page’s SEO score. Unless the linked resource is relevant to the words “click” or “here,” by using this phrase, we are negatively impacting our SEO score and reducing the number of people who will find our work.
Third, “click here” is probably not accurate. As mobile devices now dominate how people experience the web, most people are not “clicking” on anything; they’re tapping. Introducing cognitive dissonance, even if just a little, tells the audience that we don’t understand them, which in turn makes us less effective communicators.
Reason number four why “click here” is bad is that it’s too small. When tapping, bigger targets are easier to hit. When scanning a document with your eyes, larger links are easier to spot. “Click here” is not a large phrase and makes our links less functional as a result.
Finally, “click here” is needlessly verbose. When writing copy for the web, the most important rule is “boil it down.” Due to our time constraints and attention span, few people read to the end of the article; we shouldn’t waste people’s time with extraneous and erroneous words like “click here.”
To sum up, “click here” is:
- Bad for accessibility
- Bad for SEO
- Probably wrong
- Too small
- Too wordy
I hope I’ve convinced you never to write “click here” again. If not, please start reading again from the beginning and take another moment to consider the impact of these words.
So what do we do instead? That’s the best part—the vast majority of the time, it’s so easy! “Click here” links almost always follow this format:
To follow the white rabbit down the rabbit hole, click here.
In our new, post-click-here world, our link text is simply:
Follow the white rabbit down the rabbit hole.
That’s it! Just remove the words “click here” and the action performed becomes the link.
As a bonus, I’m also going to share how to rewrite another kind of link that eschews the word “click” and passively links the word “here.” These are more commonly found in email and typically look something like this:
You can find the hidden treasure here.
Those are a little harder to fix, but just barely. We rewrite the sentence to focus on the action being performed. Here are some alternatives:
- Download the hidden treasure
- Pickup the hidden treasure
- Check out the hidden treasure
- Reveal the hidden treasure
- View the hidden treasure
- Read about the hidden treasure
Still very easy!
It’s worth noting that not all link text needs to be an action or a call to action. In cases where we are passively inviting the reader to learn more about our topic, we should link the phrase that best describes the resource. Think of this type of link is an allusion. For instance, if I were writing a new blog post that referenced an existing blog post about my trip to France, I might link the earlier post like this:
In the fall of 2016, I traveled to France to learn about my cultural heritage and experience the amazing food I’d heard about all my life.
The link text “I traveled to France” sums up the previous post and tells the reader exactly what it links to.
Thank you for reading to the end of the article. I hope you’ll join us in moving past this phrase which is fraught with usability issues.