Across the web ‘click here‘ or ‘here‘ have become common terms used for links on web pages – you can find them on BBC, Guardian, Mozilla, and even the mighty Government Digital Service as well as many others. These lazy generic link titles suck in so many ways.
Lots of ‘digital thought leaders’™ use them, usually as part of a blog post designed to convince you of their greatness. Before moving on to the complex stuff I’m calling for a back to basics approach. There is absolutely no point advocating high end digital marketing techniques if you then write ‘click here’ for the links all over your blog post. It’s definitely a credibility loser.
There are quite a few reasons why people should be taking greater care over how they use links.
Tell the user where you’re sending them
If you use sensibly named links you give users the option of clicking or not on the links that might be of interest. You can use a link to reference a handy source which explains something in more detail then you want to add to your page. Sometimes you’re reader will know what you’re driving at and so can forgo the link, other users might find a bit of background helpful and will click on the link.
If you use just the generic term for the link you’re forcing users to read all the surrounding text to understand the context. This makes scanning the page much more difficult.
Help screen readers users
Non descriptive links are also confusing and probably quite annoying for anyone using a screen reader. Screen readers are a piece of software that allows people with severe visual impairments to use a computer. A common first step for a screen reader user is to look at the links on the web page to help them understand the options available.
The YouTube video web design and screen readers demonstrates what a screen reader will tell a visual impaired person if they look at a webpage full of nondescriptive links.
Better SEO for your website
If this isn’t enough search engines will also penalise sites that don’t have descriptive links.
Google SEO Starter Guide (PDF) from 2010 states that links should be descriptive, concise and easy to spot. Search engines like it when you do helpful things for users and penalise you if you do things which don’t help them. Logic suggests that generic links will bite you in the SEO ass sooner or later if you persist with them.
Write a sentence that makes sense
If we follow the advice from W3C we need to stay away from talking about the mechanics of mouse clicks, taking attention of users away from the web page they’re being offered with the link. But is this enough?
Why shouldn’t every sentence make sense as if it was read from a paperback book? If you wrote every sentence as if was to be printed out then read you wouldn’t use generic links like ‘here’ and ‘click here’ as it would make the sentence bonkers.
Consider this as if you’re reading from a book:
Bonkers: Rough Guide to Korea is now available to buy on Amazon. You can buy it here.
Better: One of the best travel guides I’ve ever read Rough Guide to Korea is available to buy from Amazon.
I imagine someone looking through the pages of the book for wherever ‘here’ might be so they can find out where to buy the Rough Guide.
If we work together we can kill off CLICK HERE for good
The web content basics are super important and we need to remember them. If everyone decides that condemning generic links to the idea bin should come before the next new shiny thing then everyone will have better search optimised websites that are easier to use. Simple as that really.