In the world of websites, app design, and user experience, certain practices are so entrenched it’s easy to overlook how poorly suited they are to user experience design principles. One of the biggest of these is the “click here” practice for hyperlinks.
While this might seem like the easiest way to direct users to additional information, that doesn’t mean it’s the right way!
Besides accessing information, products, and services online, users also want to navigate websites quickly to find what they’re after. For this, effective hyperlinks are as much a part of the design experience as a site’s layout or color scheme.
But this aspect of the user experience—the language used in hyperlinks—is commonly overlooked. It’s not unusual to see phrases like “click here” or “read more” even though these are far from optimal.
But why should you never write “click here”?
In this article, we’ll explore why these hyperlinks are a bad idea and what you should be writing to improve the user experience.
Ready to up your UX game with this quick win? Then let’s get started.
1. Why “click here” hyperlinks are a bad idea
For a long time, “clicking here” was commonplace: With the emergence of search engine optimization (SEO) and backlink building, the need for more sophisticated ways of presenting links became imperative.
As people have emphasized user experience (UX) and accessibility, it has become more widely understood that “click here” is not just unnecessary—it’s detrimental to the user experience.
So why is clicking here such a bad idea?
There are several reasons why “click here” hyperlinks are best avoided. Here are a few to keep in mind.
“Click here” offers no context as to where a link will take the user
When users browse a webpage, they are consciously (or subconsciously) scanning the text for relevant links that will take them forward on their journey. The development of eye-tracking technologies has given us unrivaled insight into how users navigate online.
However, if all links are simply labeled “click here” users lack context. It becomes time-consuming for them to determine which link will lead to the information they’re after.
For instance, if you have a list of links to different research sources, all with identical anchor text, this will not serve the user well.
Instead, aim to use hyperlink text that summarizes the research’s title or key messages.
“Click here” links are not SEO-friendly
Whether you’re a UX designer or digital marketer, another reason to avoid “click here” links is that they are poorly optimized for SEO.
SEO emerged in the early days of the internet to help websites improve their rankings on search engines like Google.
While there are many aspects of SEO, one element is hyperlink anchor text. Search engine algorithms use this to determine the relevance of the page that a website is linking to.
If all your links simply say “click here”, search engines cannot properly index your site and this will negatively impact your SEO ranking. Indeed, diversification of anchor text is one way to avoid SEO penalties.
“Click here” hyperlinks exclude those using assistive technologies
The internet is for everyone. But for those with visual impairments, browsing online may involve using assistive technologies like screen readers, which typically read the text on a page out loud
Unfortunately, if a hyperlink says “click here” we return to a common problem: it gives users no context as to where the link will take them.
It’s also good to be aware that some screen readers farm the links on the page and present them in one go. Without context, these links will be even more nonsensical. Understandably, this is frustrating for visually impaired users.
“Clicking here” is not device agnostic
The final and most overlooked reason for avoiding “click here” hyperlinks is that the term presumes users are on a computer with a mouse or trackpad. This is not always true.
Back in the day, encouraging people to “click here” made sense since the only way they could do so was by using their mouse.
Today, however, people access information from various devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart devices, watches, and even TVs. As you’ll know if it’s ever happened to you, coming across the phrase “click here” can be very jarring when you’re using a touchscreen or remote control.
As such, hyperlink text should use device-agnostic language to indicate not how to carry out an action, but to describe the action that will occur when the link is clicked regardless of how that click takes place.
Curious about UX design for mobile devices? See this guide: 10 key mobile app design principles for beginners.
2. What to write instead of “click here”
Now we’ve established that “click here” hyperlinks should be avoided at all costs, what’s the best approach instead? The most straightforward answer is to use descriptive anchor text that tells users what’s on the other end of the link.
For example, instead of saying: “Click here to read our blog,” try a sentence that ends with a hyperlink such as: “…our latest blog post about website design.” Doing so will provide much more context, while also placing the link more naturally into the body of the copy.
It also allows users to assess if they are interested in the link’s content without them having to visit the page first, thereby improving the browsing experience.
While judgment is necessary (it depends on the context and is not always suitable for informational links) another option is to use action-oriented language. For example, instead of saying: “Click here to sign up,” you might try: “Sign up for our newsletter now.”
Direct language encourages users to take a desired action, and in marketing, a solid call to action is critical. Be aware though, this isn’t suitable for all contexts. For example, when providing reference links, descriptive text is more appropriate.
Other phrases to avoid
We’ll admit, poor old “click here” is getting a rough ride in this blog post! While we’d argue this is justified, we would also emphasize that “click here” is not the only culprit for a poor user experience. In general, it’s best to avoid any vague or imprecise wording in your hyperlinks.
Other phrases to steer clear of include:
- “Read more”
- “Learn more”
- “Check this out”
- “Find out more here”
Except in circumstances where the link encourages an action (such as signing up for a newsletter) it is actually better to avoid verbs and stick to descriptive nouns in your hyperlinks.
This doesn’t mean you should never use verb phrases in your copy or calls to action, but in most cases, you should avoid them in your hyperlinked text.
Best practice alternatives to “clicking here”
Here are some best practices for improving the user experience:
- Use keywords: Incorporating relevant keywords into your anchor text helps humans and search engines better understand your content.
- Keep it concise: Anchor text should be brief, precise, and on point. Lengthy phrases will confuse readers.
- Test and optimize: You can’t get everything right the first time, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Try different anchor texts and see what works best for your audience. Monitor click-through rates and make adjustments as required.
- Don’t overdo it: Effective anchor text is vital. However, it’s equally important not to overdo it. Stuffing loads of links or complex descriptions into your copy will make it no less confusing than a page full of “click here” links.
- Test your links: Before publishing new content, test your links to ensure they’re working correctly. Schedule a six month review to ensure the links haven’t changed or been taken down.
- When appropriate, use action-oriented language: As mentioned before, using language that encourages action can be very effective. However, you should only use it in the appropriate context. The World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, suggests avoiding verb phrases altogether. In some cases, we’d say it’s acceptable to do so. For example, “Download our free guide on X” or “Register for our UX webinar today” are fine as anchor text if they link directly to a download form or event sign-up page.
Examples of effective hyperlink text
Finally, let’s finish off with a final look at some examples of effective hyperlink text:
- Instead of “click here to see our pricing,” try “view our pricing plans today”
- Instead of “click here to buy now,” try “review shopping cart”
- For informational links, avoid verb phrases like “click here to learn more” and try something specific like: “A complete guide to agile UX”.
While these are simple examples, they hopefully offer some idea of the kind of anchor text that users will find helpful without being overly wordy or confusing.
3. Key takeaways
In this post, we’ve explored why it’s best to avoid “click here” hyperlinks. For starters, they offer no context to a user. They can also negatively impact your SEO and are exclusionary to those relying on assistive technologies, such as screen readers.
Plus, they focus on the mechanics of using a mouse, which, let’s face it, as touchscreen devices start to dominate the market, is not always the case.
Instead of writing “click here” why not try to use descriptive anchor text that accurately describes where the link leads? This can improve the user experience, help your SEO efforts, and—most importantly—heighten the user experience.
We’ll end by acknowledging that even the best writers and UX designers occasionally slip up and use “click here” links. This practice is outdated but also ingrained in our collective consciousness.
However, stay mindful of the language you’re using, and you can improve the user experience on your website or app for all your users. This will increase the effectiveness of your content and perhaps even boost your business. It’s an easy win, so think about the impact of the language you’re using.
If you want to learn more about the best practices of UX design, check out the following introductory guides: