Don’t click here. Do this instead.

Hyperlinks count. Be clear about where yours will send your readers.

Before publishing a page, read aloud all the hyperlinks. Do they make sense without the rest of the text on the page? Or are they vague and generic, like ‘click here’ or ‘here’?

The following is an example I came across recently of what not to do. It’s from Australian newspaper, The Age.

At the end of many of their articles, The Age has a section encouraging readers to sign up to their newsletter and those of their affiliate newspapers.

They use the same generic text — ‘here’ — to link to each separate newsletter.

This doesn’t tell people where the links are sending them, which means:

They slow their users down

Vague, repetitive links force the user to read the adjacent text to ensure they click the right link.

People are typically impatient when using the web. They want quick pathways and answers. If you don’t provide this, they get frustrated, don’t follow your calls to action, and abandon your site.

They reduce search engine optimisation (SEO)

Search engines, such as Google, like clear links with keywords people are using in their searches. This helps their algorithm rank the relevance of pages in their search results.

‘Click here’ provides search engines with no relevance.

Which do you think would help The Age’s newsletter page rank higher — ‘here’ or ‘The Age newsletter’?

The content isn’t accessible

Blind and visually-impaired people often use assistive technology to navigate websites. A widely-used example — the computer screen reader — turns text into speech. It reads aloud documents and web pages.

One of the features of a computer screen reader lets the user read out just the hyperlinks on the page. This saves the user time, as it lets them locate the link they want without having to hear the surrounding text.

This feature becomes unusable when a page contains vague, repetitive links.

To illustrate, in the following screenshot I’ve removed the surrounding content from The Age example. The only thing left is the four hyperlinks, which are all simply ‘here’.

The following screenshot is what The Age should have done instead. All the links are now clear and unambiguous and use text already on the page.

The Age can also remove the four instances of the word ‘here’, which makes the text more succinct and readable.

To further illustrate the improved accessibility, in the following screenshot I’ve removed all the text accept the hyperlinks. Even without the adjacent words, the links still tell the user exactly where they are going.

Other common examples and alternatives

Remember, all links on a page need to be meaningful. ‘Click here’ is the most common example of poor hyperlinking, but there are many more.

Instead of…
Read more about upcoming events.

Try…
Read more about upcoming events.

Instead of…
Check this out

Try…
Check out the upcoming events.

Instead of…
See all of our newsletters by clicking on this link.

Try…
See all of our newsletters.

In summary

Make your links clear and unambiguous. Search engines and your users — especially your blind and visually-impaired users — will love you for it!

Further reading

There several other things to consider when writing hyperlinks. The following articles explain these in detail.

Writing links: 10 tips for web writers and editors | 4Syllables

Making accessible links: 15 golden rules for developers | Gian Wild, SitePoint

Government digital professional. User research, content strategy and design, UI design, performance analysis.