Taking a few extra minutes to create meaningful link text has benefits for your audience as it helps them understand exactly where a link is going.
Where Does It Go?
Anytime you use “click here,” “read more,” “buy now,” or something similar, you’re making your audience take more time to figure out the purpose and destination for the link.
Consider the following:
To listen to our podcast appearances about Content for Everyone, click here.
If you’re visually engaging with the page, and read the entire sentence, it’s pretty clear that if you “click here” you’re going to go to a page that has a list of podcast episodes.
However, for those using assistive technology reviewing a link list, “click here” carries no meaning. These site visitors will have to review the other text that is associated with the link to find out if they want to go to the destination.
A visual reader scanning the page quickly for links will also have to take a moment to read the full sentence. You may think this extra time isn’t a big deal, but it can be. Your goal should be to create content with the fewest possible barriers for engagement.
There’s clarity in this link:
Listen to our podcasts appearances about Content for Everyone.
By linking “our podcasts appearance about Content for Everyone,” everyone in the audience has full information regardless of how they are interacting with the page.
These types of links are even more difficult for your audience if they repeatedly appear on a page. If there are several instances of “read more” on a page, the reader must take a moment to understand where they each go. Is the destination always the same? Are different pages referenced by each one?
One area I find redundancy is with shopping pages, and even more so with newsletters, where there can be many “buy now” links or buttons. Imagine a dozen “buy now” listings in a list of links. An assistive technology user would have to go to each one to see if it took them to something they wanted, or they’d have to read through all the content to discern which button was associated with each item. Others in your audience may also find themselves confused by the repetition and the effort to sort out the context.
Good for Your SEO
Providing clear link text is also good for your search engine optimization. Using link text that’s not meaningful impacts how Google and other search engines index your site. The same text that helps your audience understand your page and its links is also good for search engines.
Embrace the Challenge
It takes a bit of practice to get out of the habit of writing links using the shortcuts like “read more.” It’s a habit worth breaking, though. The next time you’re creating link text, take the time to phrase it in a way that you’re clear to everyone on the link destination. Your audience (and Google) will appreciate it.