Writing Good Link Text

Despite my difficulties in navigating the W3C QA site (see previous post) it was interesting to read their article about good writing conventions for links.

While I completely agree with their recommendation not to use “click here” for link text, I am unclear as to why they recommend not putting verb phrases in link text.

Here’s the example they use:

My preference is to write something more like their ‘bad’ example; either:
Tell me more about Amaya”, or “Tell me more about Amaya“.

In fact, in this instance, I would probably rewrite the sentence to say
Learn more about Amaya“. To me, including a verb in a link:

  1. Makes the link easier to see and click as it’s not just a single word
  2. Gives the link more context – if I’m skim-reading the page, I can easily see that by clicking this link I will be able to learn more about Amaya.

Rachael McAlpine makes this point well in an article about writing for skim-readers:

Write meaningful link-text.

Some people scan a page by reading only the link-text. You know, that’s usually blue and underlined. Make sure it makes sense alone.

Interestingly, I could find no specific examples in their suggested further reading or elsewhere to back up the W3C’s assertion about not including verb phrases in link text.

Until I see a good reason to change, I think I’ll just keep including verbs in my links. Hence, “download nnn” rather than “download nnn“.

2 thoughts to “Writing Good Link Text”

  1. Interesting. Thanks for the information.
    The only question that pops into my mind is what emphasis search engine spiders give to the link word(s) used. Perhaps this might be a reason to only use “Amaya” as the link.

  2. Don, I don’t know whether search engines assign a different level of importance to a link depending on how many words you have in it – my sense is that they do not.
    From what I have read, the key thing is to have your keyword(s) in the link, and that is sufficient.

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