It’s official: ‘click here’ isn’t a phrase you want to use on the web anymore.
If you’re an SEO and/or accessibility advocate, this is just parrotting what you’ve known for years: that generic terms like ‘click here’ aren’t helpful to search engines, or to users with disabilities browsing the internet. But now ‘click here’ doesn’t even literally make sense. With more than half the UK’s internet use coming from mobile users in 2013 (source), your visitors are tapping, swiping and scrolling their way through the web like never before.
‘Click here’ is outdated in every way, but what’s best practice now? Here are some alternative ways for thinking about your links.
1. Be descriptive
This doesn’t mean ‘stuff with keywords’, because linking to your homepage with the phrase ‘car insurance’ isn’t going to go down any better with Google or visually impaired users than ‘click here’ is. Instead, focus on providing information about where the user can expect to go. Is it an external or internal page? Is it an important link or an optional one? Consider the different ways you can use language to communicate that to your users (for more help on this, check out the examples at the bottom of this post).
2. Put the user first
Forget search engine rankings, and start labelling – and using – links for your visitors. The aim is to create an accurate signpost primarily for their benefit. In the long term this also helps you, because you’ll reduce confusion and your bounce rate whilst improving user experience.
3. Avoid device-dependency
It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that users will be sitting in front of a keyboard when they access your website, but this is becoming less and less of a reality. Even though analytics data is helpful, you can’t accurately predict how your next visitor will access your website, or in what context. A user sitting in the office using a desktop computer will be in a totally different mindset and expect a different browsing experience to someone hurriedly browsing on their phone at a bus stop, for example. Avoid using device- or experience-specific phrases that may alienate or confuse users.
4. Go beyond language
Use colours and code (for example, buttons, which are recognised as such by spoken language software) for emphasis and direction as well as words.
Five ‘click here’ examples
These can be adapted for any kind of web content, including downloads, rich media, and emails. It all comes down to context, but here are some of the most successful and interesting we’ve come across.
“Learn more about our web design services” – This includes a call-to-action, is descriptive for the user, and contains relevant keywords without the danger of being flagged for spam. Alternatives include ‘Find out more’, ‘Search for’, ‘Choose from’ etc. that are all non-device/browsing specific, but avoid verbs such as ‘Watch’ and ‘Read’ for better accessibility.
“Save 50% on your web hosting now” – This has similarities to the first example; the main differences here are that you’re adding a specific (saving 50%) and you’re also adding a time factor (‘now’) to imply some urgency. This type of link can still work for general presales pages and general content pages, but is optimal for transient content like emails and blog posts.
“Go to page 2” – For general browsing and multi-page articles/sections of your website, using numbers is the easiest way to help users browse. If your page/article titles aren’t too long, you could extend this by including them (e.g. ‘Go to page 2 of Tasty Cupcakes Recipe’).
“(source)” – One for an external link; this highlights the origin of data or a quote whilst signalling it’s an external website and not a vital link to click. You could go further by using something like “(data source)” or specifically labelling the data, e.g. “(Source: Neilson Report 2003)”.