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Avoid "Click here" Links

From W3C's HTML Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines:

Good link text should not be overly general; don't use "click here." Not only is this phrase device-dependent (it implies a pointing device) it says nothing about what is to be found if the link if followed. Instead of "click here", link text should indicate the nature of the link target, as in "more information about sea lions" or "text-only version of this page"

TimBernersLee on Style Guide for online hypertext, section Printable Hypertext:

Try to avoid references in the text to online aspects. "See the section on device independence" is better than "For more on device independence, click here.". In fact we are talking about a form of device independence.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela on Why "Click here" is bad linking practice:

  • "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.

Recommended reading:

-- Contributors: PeterThoeny


I definitely am guilty of this and was curious about what is suggested as an alternative. Surprisingly, most of the articles referenced didn't offer positive examples of what is preferred method to give instructions associated with a link. Finally, I found Don't use "click here" as link text, which is part of Quality Tips for Webmasters by the W3C, which offers this guideline:

When calling the user to action, use brief but meaningful link text that:
  • provides some information when read out of context
  • explains what the link offers
  • doesn't talk about mechanics
  • is not a verb phrase

-- LynnwoodBrown - 14 Apr 2006

The interesting problem lies in the word "brief". It's often very hard to do that within text; just see some of the links above and try to figure out how to shorten them!

-- MeredithLesly - 14 Apr 2006

The usability report Designing for the Scent of Information by Jared Spool et al. advocates to use long links:

Longer Links Say More
If you look closely at the links in the navigation panels we just studied, you will no- tice that they are all between one and three words long. While this is extremely common for navigation panels, it also is indicative of problems we consistently see across many sites.

One of the first patterns to emerge had to do with the optimal number of words in a link. The best-performing links were between seven and twelve words long.

Why did links with six or fewer words do less well? The answer is that it’s a game of probability. A seven-word link is more likely to contain the right trigger words than a one- or two-word link. The more likely a trigger word is to be present, the more likely the link is to give off good scent.

The notion scent is from Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center researchers that theorized that when people search a large information space—a web site, for example—they exhibit the same behavior as animals hunting their prey. They become “informavores” on the hunt for information. The PARC researchers called their theory the “scent of information.”

-- ArthurClemens - 14 Apr 2006

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Topic revision: r4 - 2006-04-14 - ArthurClemens
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