One of the most often overlooked details when authoring documents for the web is link text. Link text is the “clickable portion of text displayed for a link”. As with most things, there are good and bad practices when it comes to crafting link text.
It seems that, it is common to author a web document as you would normally write a printed document and then later add the extra cool stuff that the web can do easily like links and graphics. While this approach can be pulled off, it often results in the “click here” pitfall because, in this case, the links and images easily end up being merely an afterthought.
While there are many resource on the web that cite the deficiencies of using “click here,” Why “Click here” is bad linking practice contains a summary of important strikes against the pracitce:
- “Click here” just looks stupid.
- “Click here” looks especially stupid when printed on paper.
- “Click here” is useless in a list of links or when in “links reading” mode, or whenever a link text is considered as isolated from its textual and visual context. …
- “Click here” is bad food for search engines. If you say “For information on pneumonia, click here”, search engines won’t know that your document contains a link to a document about pneumonia. Some important search engines use the link text in estimating the relevance of a link. Using descriptive link texts thus helps users in finding documents they’re interested in, potentially including your document due to a link text with some key word.
- There’s usually a fairly simple way to do things better. Instead of the text “For information on pneumonia, click here”, you could simply write “pneumonia information”.
- “Click here” is device-dependent. There are several ways to follow a link, with or without a mouse. Users probably recognize what you mean, but you are still conveying the message that you think in a device-dependent way.
Users with dyslexia may have problems reading long pages and will be helped if the design facilitates scannability by proper use of headings… Selecting words with high information content as hypertext anchors will help these users, as well as blind users, scan for interesting links (no “click here”, please).
When authoring documents for the web, we ask that you put the same amount of thought and proofreading that you would when writing a document for printed publication. Make sure that your document is properly organized, your paragraphs flow, and your sentences will make sense to readers both on and off the web.