Should your links include the words “click here” or is this a tacky and redundant waste of Web page space, since everyone knows what to do with a link?
The click here debate has waged for years. But I think it’s less a debate than a misunderstanding, and it’s easy to clear up.
Let’s assume that I’m writing an article online and I want to link to my newsletter subscription page. There are three ways I can craft this link.
1. I can create a link that links to my free newsletter subscription like this. Here I’ve created a simple “descriptive” link. The content of the link is clear. It uses the common metaphor of the underline to indicate a link, so if you want to know more about my newsletter, you can click on it.
2. I can create a link where I encourage you to subscribe to my free newsletter like this. In this case, I’ve created a “directive” link. Not only does it describe the link, it uses command language to tell you what to do: “subscribe.”
3. I can create a link where I tell you you to click here to sign up for my free newsletter like this. Now I’ve created a “call to action” link. This describes the content of the link and uses directive language to tell you what to do. However it goes one step further and gives you explicit instructions for how to do it: “click here.”
Which link type is correct? It depends on how important it is that someone click on the link.
If you merely wish to offer additional information, a descriptive link gets the job done. This is the most common type of link on the Web. If people click, great. If not, no big deal.
If you want people to click, though, you need to move up to the directive link. This link tells people what to do and will almost always generate more clicks.
If the link is vital, for a sales letter leading to an order page, for example, then you should step up to the call to action link and use the words “click here.” This leaves no doubt about what to do and how to do it. The fact that people know to click a link is irrelevant. This is the same as telling a direct mail recipient to “mail this reply card now.” The more direct you are, the more response you are likely to get.
So there you have it. There are descriptive links, directive links, and call to action links. Deciding which to use depends on how important it is that you get a click. The debate is ended. Go forth and link away.
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