Thursday 6 November 2008

I still like writing links that include the words "Click here..."

This article by Nick Usborne at excess voice is definitely worth a read.

I speak to a lot of internet users that are not familiar with links that have no call to action, what do they do when they visit a page with no directions, they hit the back button; read on.

I know. I'm bad.

So much has been written about how passé and generally newbie-like it is to write a link that includes the words "click here".

Not good for search engine optimization. Wasted words.

Totally unnecessary for readers who have long since learned to click on text that looks like a hyperlink.

So why do I like using the words "click here?"

Because those two short words encourage my readers to take a very simple, no-commitment, non-scary action.

By way of example:

Learn more about Organic Flax Seed face cream...


Click here for information about Organic Flax Seed face cream...

Is the second one so bad? I don't think so.

When I look at the first one, it's asking me to make a commitment of time and thinking power to "learn more". If I am really interested in Organic Flax Seed face cream I'll probably go ahead. I really do want to learn more.

But what if I'm only slightly interested? Just a teeny bit? Before clicking the link I have to commit myself to "learning more".

Now let's look at the "click here" version.

I'm not asking them to learn anything. I'm just telling them that there is some more information on the next page.

All I'm asking them to do is "click here". Nothing scary about that. No commitment involved. No sense that they are being drawn down a sales funnel that will leave their wallet a little lighter.

Some people might suggest I write the link like this:

Organic Flax Seed face cream...

In fact, that is how I see more and more links being written. No call to action (click here), no indication of what you'll find if you do click that link.

Experts will tell me, "Don't be a pain Nick, you know as well as we do that it is sufficient to just name the product or service and make it look like a link.

People know what to do."

Yes, site visitors do know what their choices are when they see some links.

But what's wrong with encouraging them to actually DO something, and click that link?

Other than it being unfashionable and uncool, what is the problem with saying, for more information on creating effective links, click here?

In part, yes, I'm being contrarian and deliberately provocative here.

But it irritates me sometimes that people have stopped writing "click here" as part of their links text simply because everyone else has stopped.

By all means exclude those words from your links. But first, give some thought as to why you are doing it.

Myself, I still say "click here".

In a hyperlinked world, those two words strike me as being the simplest and most universally recognized call for the reader to move forward - from one page to the next and to the next.

Nick Usborne, home of the Excess Voice newsletter for online copywriters.

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