The weakest links: ‘click here,’ ‘read more’

Don’t worry about the “missing link”: It doesn’t matter anyway to your Web readers. Savvy site visitors (and even your great aunt Gertie) want speed and purpose when they click through.

When it comes to link writing, “click here” is so 1996. We’re talking 14.4k modems, a CompuServe account and the Spice Girls singing “Wannabe” on your portable electronic device, aka a Sony Discman.

Remember Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal? Your “click here” link does.

“But our visitors have never been on the Web,” you explain. “They have no idea what blue underlined words mean unless we spell it out for them.”

You know what? Mom opened a Twitter account last year; Dad watches YouTube videos on his iPad; and your Web visitors know what a link is.

(Still think they don’t? Does that mean you believe they made all the arrangements to get online just so they could visit your website? “I don’t know what this browser thingy is, but I can’t wait to get on the World Wide Web so I can see for myself this XYZCompany.com that everybody’s talking about.”)

The problems with the weakest links

Besides being dated, “click here” and “read more”:

  • Aren’t scannable. Because links are blue and underlined, they stand out, making them among the most scannable elements on your Web page. That gives links the ability to lift your ideas off the screen. But how are you using that superpower if the ideas you highlight essentially say, “push this button”?
  • Aren’t actionable. Writing “read more” for a link is like writing “buy this” for an ad. They’re calls to action, sure. But not very persuasive ones. Why should I click, read or buy? That’s your copy.
  • Clutter up your copy. Every time you write “click here” or “read more,” you’re adding at least two extra words to your Web page.

Fix the weakest links

So, how can drag your 1996 links into the 21st century?

1. Focus links on the topic, not on the action. Instead of focusing on the action — a.k.a., “click here” or “read more” — focus on the topic. Don’t tell Web visitors to click; tell them what they’ll find if they do click. Notice how focusing on the topic lifts the idea off the screen, promises the reader a benefit and slenderizes the sentence.

Don’t: To learn to write better links, click here.
Do: Learn to write better links.

2. Don’t write about mechanics or the system. “Click here” and “read more” have some ugly cousins: URLs, e-mail addresses and other references to the mechanics of the Web. You wouldn’t write, “turn page” in a publication. Why write, “point your browser at” online?

3. Write mostly verb-based links. Try starting with a strong verb and an implied “you.” Putting the reader first and leaning on strong verbs makes for good writing, whether you’re crafting links or brochures.

Don’t: Videos of the ceremony are available at StopMeBeforeITweetAgain.com.
Do: View videos of the ceremony.

Ann Wylie is president of Wylie Communications.

COMMENT

Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.