Choosing appropriate text for a hyperlink
Anatomy Of A Link
Hyperlinks (or "links") have two components:
- The URL or address of the page (e.g. "http://agsci.psu.edu")
- The link text (e.g. "the AgSci website")
While the URL is easy to determine (it's the page you want to link to!), the text for the link is more difficult, but equally as important.
The Correct Way
The link text should always describe what the user will see when they click on it. It should never be "Click Here", "Here", or the URL itself. For example, these are appropriate ways to include a link:
For more information, you can check out the stink bug factsheet.
The Department of Ecosystem Science and Management has three undergraduate baccalaureate degree programs:
The Incorrect Way
Some examples of inappropriate ways to create links are:
Click here to check out the stink bug fact sheet.
Check out the stink bug fact sheet at: http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/brown-marmorated-stink-bug
Check out the stink bug fact sheet here.
Benefits Of Choosing Appropriate Text
People scan text on the web rather than reading, so it is important to highlight the relevant words to make it easier for them to decide to click a link.
When printing a page, "click here" is irrelevant, and users are not likely to type in a long URL correctly (if at all!). In addition, long URLs do not wrap nicely, which makes a printed page hard to read.
Meaningful link text is more accessible to all users, but especially helps disabled users. This is covered under Section 508 of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Search engines use the link text as metadata to help in their rankings. "Click here" or the URL does not give them any additional information, but meaningful text does.
Devices such as smartphones and screen readers are not tightly tied to the "Click" metaphor.
Other Tips for Effective Links
- Verify that the link is correct by pasting it into the address bar in another browser window. If the link updates, or "redirects", use the updated link as the link URL.
- When appropriate, embed links to relevant college information (academic units, faculty, factsheets, etc.)