Hannah Andersson

Front-end developer

Tags

  • accessibility
  • writing tips
  • seo

How to write better links - eight tips for writing good link texts

Links are one of the most basic building blocks on a website, without links, neither users nor search engines can navigate the content. Here are eight tips for writing clear and informative links that users understand.

Sometimes it may be tempting to cram as many links as possible in the text, but for the user this can be perceived as messy. Keep in mind that each link is a possible interruption that may lead the user away from your text.

  • Only link to information that adds value to the user, such as related articles and facts
  • Avoid using the same link text for links that lead to different locations
  • Don’t link to the same information more than once
  • Don’t put multiple links in a single paragraph, it can be difficult to distinguish them
  • If you really need to have many links in your text, try adding them to a “list of links” at the end of the text

The user wants to know what happens when they click on the link. Too often we see links like “read more” or just “click here”. “Read more” is even one of the most common internal link text. These links provide no information at all, and as users we already know that links are clickable and need not be informed about it. If the link leads to an e-mail address, the link text may be the same as the e-mail address itself, it’s clearer than linking a name or job title.

Instead of:

Municipalities and county councils can also do a lot to reduce food welfare, according to the Food Safety Authority’s new report. To read the full report, click here.

You can write like this:

Municipalities and county councils can also do a lot to reduce food welfare, according to the Food Safety Authority’s new report. Do you want to know more? Read the full report “Food in Sweden”.

In the early 2000s, it was a common recommendation that external links should automatically open in new windows. Since then, the web browsers have developed and got tabs and other smart settings that let us control which websites we want to open and how to open them.

There are many ways to open links in a new tab; Click with the scroll wheel, ctrl + click, right-click and select open in new tab and so on.

There is no longer any reason to force links to open in new windows, it’s better to let the users decide for themselves.

  • Don’t open links in new windows automatically, let the user decide for themselves
  • Documents, such as a PDF or a text document, should be opened in new windows
  • If the link goes to a document, tell the user

Both Google and screen readers (a tool for visually impaired users) uses the link texts separated from the rest of the text. Therefore, the links need to work even outside their context.

Instead of:

You can read about our products on this page.

You can write like this:

Read more about our products.

Links are a great opportunity to invite the user to do something, but it’s also important to give the user a good reason why they should do just that. A good call to action should be both interesting and convincing. Don’t make all links call to actions, but pick a few and remember to write varying link texts.

Instead of:

Here you can sign up for our newsletter.

You can write like this:

Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates about our breakfast seminars and other events.

6. Write the most important first

On the web, we often skim through the information, and the glance sticks to stuff that stands out like headlines and links. We see the first words best, so place the keywords first in the link text.

  • Use keywords that your visitors know
  • Avoid abbreviations and technical terms if you are not sure that the target audience is familiar with them

7. Don’t overdo it

How long should a link be then? It should be long enough to be understandable, but no longer than necessary. Long links may need to have a line-break and links consisting of a single short word are hard to click on, especially on touchscreens.

  • Use 2-4 words as link text
  • Avoid long links that may need line-breaks
  • Type varying link text, don’t start each link with “read more about …”

It has long been a standard for links in body text to be underlined. It’s so widespread that it’s the underlining we’re looking for when we skim through a text after links. Facilitate the user by continuing using underlined links.

  • Use underline for all links in body text
  • Avoid italic style, because it’s often difficult to read
  • Don’t use underlines on anything other than links