Web writing

Don’t “click here” – 5 ways bad link text screws up your website

I quickly pulled these screenshots out of a presentation I gave a few days ago, so I apologise for the haphazard borders. Hey, I never said I’m a designer…

Using “click here”, or similar words, as link text is a bad habit for a lot of reasons. But if you want to annoy people, here are five great things this lazy link text can do for you:

1. Make it impossible for people to differentiate things, no matter how unique they really are

When The Economist publishes two articles about the same event in a single edition, you know it’s a big deal. Unfortunately, when their summary of the week’s news invites you to “see here and here”, you can’t tell which article tells you about the make-up of Nigeria’s newly-elected parliament, and which one gives the life-so-far story of the ex-dictator that the people just elected. If, indeed, those are the two angles that the stories take. How could I possibly tell?

Lazy link text is a defining feature of the usually-fastidious Economist. The best word or two to summarise Iran’s nuclear negotiations is, appparently, “article”.

A former military dictator was elected president of Nigeria. See here and here.

2. Turn interesting things into boring ones

From what I can tell, Canterbury University have this crime baked into ther web template. Every academic with a profile page has a quick summary of their research with a “Details here” link. “Details” sound boring. In this example, Professor Jarg Pettigna’s work sounds boring. Jarg studies faultlines which, especially in a city recovering from a pair of devasating earthquakes, is more relevant and interesting than “details” makes it sound.

Jarg Pettigna's research - details here

3. Hide the main point of your webpage

Still at Canterbury Uni, here’s an interesting hybrid: three links, only one of which is “here”. Sadly, the one generic link is the important one.

Scholarships - Send a question to Emma or click here for the application form.

4. Say things that don’t even make sense

Technically this isn’t bad link text, because these instances of “click here” are under, rather than part of, their links. This is what happens when you’re so conditioned to typing “click here” that you don’t even think about what’s clickable, or where it is, anymore. The typo might hint at how much attention the writer was paying at the time. (Thanks for the unique take on doing things wrong, University of Auckland!)Registration - click here to register for the event

5. Waste words – even words that would make good links

Sticking with Universities, these two are from Victoria in Wellington. Two cases of really good, descriptive text with a needless “click here” thrown on the end. Cut the “click here” and use the good words as your link instead.

Read the latest scholarship recipients' adventures on the blog - click here

Read student blogs: Click here

It’s not all bad: AUT gets it right here

After hammering universities from all over New Zealand, I congratulate AUT’s Hospitality, Tourism and Events School for getting it deliciously right here. Links that explain themselves, differentiate themselves, and tell you what you’ll get if you click.

It’s really not that hard.

Undergraduate study, current research, and other useful link labels. At last!

Related post

Making link text good for the reader, good for accessibility, and good for SEO

By Max Johns

Content strategist and web writer.