Don’t use “click here” (2024)

And other common hyperlink mistakes

Mark Caron

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6 min read

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Aug 4, 2017

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I’m not the only one to write about this. In fact, you can easily search “should I use click here for links” in Google and pretty much find all the information you need to convince yourself it’s a bad practice.

“Click here” has gone viral

If there’s so much information out there, why is it still so common to see “click here” links on the web? Why am I (and likely others) still receiving copy from content strategists and editors that is riddled with well-documented mistakes? Why does it seem like the disease is still spreading?

Don’t use “click here” (2)

I think we’ve unashamedly trained ourselves to believe that a call-to-action looks like “click here.”

Habits are hard to break, especially when they’re reinforced by our peers and other professionals who don’t know any better. Plus, how often do you think content writers question the practice enough to do a search in Google?

So, this article is yet another article on why using “click here” and other common hyperlink mistakes are a horrible disease plaguing the web; one we need to cure as soon as possible.

Using vague and uninformative phrasing for hyperlinks will have several adverse effects on your website:

  1. Decrease in overall usability
  2. Decrease in overall accessibility
  3. Decrease in search engine performance and content find-ability

These are huge issues, so I’ll address them individually before providing better options.

How vague link phrasing affects usability

Through the many studies on how users consume information on the web, user experience experts have concluded that users only read about 20–28% of the content on a given page. This scanning happens in an F-pattern; users search for keywords as shortcuts to the information they’re seeking—a process called information foraging.

Since hyperlinks standout (typically in blue) and are representative of a destination for more information, they are a critical part of this information foraging. Therefore, using vague words as hyperlink text will lessen the impact — due to the lack of keywords — and create what is known as poor “information scent.”

In other words, “click here” gives the user no concrete description of exactly what information is just a click away — it has no meaning. This forces the user to search the phrasing surrounding the “click here” in order to piece together some context. “Click here” may sound actionable, but user research suggests that it will, instead, slow the user down and increase cognitive load.

Another aspect of the effect on usability is the emphasis on the mechanics of a specific action, like “click.” Clicking is a behavior inherent to a mouse, and makes less sense on touch devices where the focus is on tapping with a finger. While this is a very real factor in usability, it takes a bit of a backseat to requirements surrounding information foraging.

How uninformative hyperlinks affect accessibility

Quick note: If you hold the opinion that accessibility is one of those things that only concerns those mandated by law (e.g. government organizations), then it may require a separate article on the relevance of web accessibility to convince you otherwise. But for the sake of brevity, I’m only going to highlight how accessibility relates to hyperlinks.

This is best illustrated by an example. Imagine you’re a blind user and you’ve landed on a page with a bunch of uninformative links…

You skim or skip through the page using the [tab] key while your screen reader announces each stop. You reach a few links. This is what it sounds like to you:

  • “click here” Link.
  • “click here” Link.
  • “Learn more” Link.
  • “go here” Link.

Where do those links go? What information do they provide? Since the screen reader only announces the text within the hyperlink, using vague phrases like these create a barrier — not allowing visually impaired users to effectively use your website.

Instead, we should hope to provide our blind users with the following:

  • “should I use click here for links” Link.
  • “studies on how users consume information” Link.
  • “users only read about 20–28% of the content” Link.
  • “F-pattern” Link.

Those are more informative, right?

You can easily test this yourself in Chrome by installing Chromevox.

How obscure linked text affects search engine optimization

If your ranking in Google is more important to you than not discriminating against an entire group of users, then you’re in luck! Improving hyperlink accessibility will have a direct and rather significant effect on your search engine optimization.

How so?
One of the easiest ways to think about search engines and their web crawlers is to consider them blind — since they can’t see. They scour your website much like how visually impaired users orient themselves on the web.

The value of a page (and any page it links to) is prioritized first around the context provided in the title of the page, the headings, and the text in the hyperlinks.

When a search engine indexes your page, it strings together relationships of keywords to their URLs. Keywords are determined by both the link text and the targeted page’s content. If the link text is accurate for the targeted page, then the web crawler knows the link is legitimate and indexes the page for that keyword. If you use an uninformative phrase, like “click here,” then the search engine will not make a close enough connection between the link text and the targeted page. This will negatively impact your page’s search engine performance, because the “information scent” is poor. In fact, even deferring the keyword to the end of the link (e.g. “click here for product documentation”) has the same drawback.

If you’re recognizing that this happens to be closely related to how sighted users forage for information, you’d be correct. It’s all related. In other words:

Put your users first, and search engines will love your site.

When creating hyperlinks, avoid using vague phrases like the following:

  • here
  • more
  • read more
  • learn more
  • link to [some link destination]
  • info

Instead, it is recommended that hyperlinks meet these criteria:

  • Are as descriptive and concise as possible
  • Start with a keyword
  • Contain concrete nouns
  • “Is not a verb phrase”
  • Provide “information when read out of context” (remember how screen readers read them)
  • Don’t discuss specific mechanics

Using URLs as link text

Much like the vagueness of phrases like “click here,” using URLs as hyperlink text is a bad practice, and should be avoided as much as possible.

  • Usability: URLs are not human-readable, they provide little to no value in information foraging, and they increase cognitive load.
  • Accessibility: URLs are annoying to and impossible for blind users to gain the context of a link. A screen reader will literally read out every single character in the URL. Try to imagine stumbling across a linked URL. You’d hear this: “h-t-t-p-[colon]-[forward slash]-[forward slash]-w-w-w-[dot]-m-e-d-i-u-m-[dot]-c-o-m-[forward slash]…” — OMG, shoot me now!
  • Search engines: URLs as hyperlink text provide no added value to search engines; a URL is not a keyword, therefore there’s no relationship. The search engine will “award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.”

Plus, URLs don’t contain spaces and using long URLs as links may result in unwanted horizontal scrolling.

De-emphasising links

The perceived affordance of click-ability encompasses several mistakes:

Retraining ourselves to phrase hyperlinks appropriately may require some effort at first. But, I firmly believe we can do better than phrases like “click here” and “learn more,” and we owe it to our users.

After all, if we keep them in mind first — through improving the overall user experience — we will benefit in return with better website performance (search engines included).

So, let’s kick the habit and cure this disease. Did I stretch the metaphor too much?

The Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) has written numerous articles about writing hyperlinks and the user psychology — and research — behind information foraging.

And there’s more:

Don’t use “click here” (2024)

FAQs

What should I say instead of click here? ›

Instead of saying “click here,” it's probably better to make concrete and proper nouns in a sentence the link anchors. Concrete nouns are best in my opinion because they are more immediate and vidid and give users a better idea of what they will get when they click through.

Why shouldn t you use click here? ›

Using “click here” is bad for accessibility, it adds cognitive load and will hurt screen reader usage. Your SEO efforts will suffer with “click here” text. Internal links don't have the context search engines need to score your website.

Why you shouldn't click on links? ›

As a rule, if a link is unsolicited, you don't want to click on it. Hackers send out malicious links in emails and texts daily. They're especially good at putting links in emails that look like they're from legitimate companies.

How do you tell someone to click a link? ›

What's more effective now is the use of long anchor text that is action oriented, and of course, an anchor text that will not disappoint – it should give your readers an idea of what they may get if they click on the link. There's nothing wrong with giving out resources, but too much is not healthy as well.

How do you say I'm here without saying it? ›

'I'm Here for You' Messages to a Friend
  • I'm here to listen. ...
  • I'm here to help. ...
  • It's okay to cry in front of me. ...
  • Tell me how you feel. ...
  • Even if you don't want to talk now, call me any time, day or night. ...
  • You helped me when __________ . ...
  • I know you're an independent person, but I really want to help you with this.
May 1, 2023

Is click here outdated? ›

Why your links should never say click here. One of the more tricky topics that many website owners may still not understand involves how to use links. At one time 'click here' was the universal way to direct users to a new web page. Times have changed, however, and this idea is now considered outdated.

Why should I not click on links in email? ›

Always be careful when an e-mail has an attachment or a link embedded: Even if the sender seems familiar, always double check before clicking on the attachment or the link. Faking a friend's identity is a powerful method hackers use to inject viruses on your devices.

How can I safely click on a link? ›

Here are a few ways you can check the safety of a link before you click on it.
  1. Hover your mouse over the link. ...
  2. Use a URL checker. ...
  3. Don't enter any data. ...
  4. Don't click on anything on the site. ...
  5. Disconnect from the internet. ...
  6. Do a full scan of your device using antivirus software. ...
  7. Keep an eye on your accounts.
Feb 9, 2023

Is it safe to click links from a text? ›

Never click on a link without knowing its origin. Sometimes these messages are in the form of prizes, competitions, so-called "official" emails inviting you to consult a document, etc. Whatever the form, one thing is certain, it is probably a scam.

Should you say click here for a link? ›

While this may seem like a good phrase to use to make it obvious for users to click a link or button, using “click here” is actually bad for usability, accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO).

What is it called when you can click on a link? ›

In computing, a hyperlink, or simply a link, is a digital reference to data that the user can follow or be guided to by clicking or tapping. A hyperlink points to a whole document or to a specific element within a document. Hypertext is text with hyperlinks.

What happens if I click a link in a message? ›

Clicking a phishing link in a spam text message can open your phone to security threats. If you don't enter any information or accept any downloads, your data may be safe. On the other hand, it's possible that suspicious files and malware were downloaded to your device through that malicious link.

Should you say click here in an email? ›

Descriptive link text should give information about the link's destination. If link text is generic and non-descriptive, like “Click here” or “Read more,” people may open the wrong link, or need to go back to read the paragraphs surrounding each link to try to find out where the link will go.

What is a good sentence for click? ›

Verb He clicked his heels together and saluted the officer. Her heels clicked on the marble floor. Press the door until you hear the latch click.

Should I say click or tap? ›

'Click' refers to the affordance of a UI button, and not to the click made by a pointing device such as a mouse. Tap is not the optimum description of the action of interacting with a UI button: 'Tap' describes the physical HCI with a touch-enabled device.

What can I write instead of here? ›

What is another word for here?
presentnearby
on-the-spotshow up
there with bells onwithin reach
insideindoors
at homein the house
11 more rows

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