Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey

Articles

It never fails to amaze me when I browse sites. One of the most critical factors on the page that affect everything from rankings, accessibility and usability is overlooked. Many times it is abused to the point of ridiculousness. What I am talking about is the small, but powerful concept of anchor text; the contextual text that hyperlinks to another page or another site. The problem is the amount of sites that employ the following use of anchor text:

Click here.

More info.

Skip intro.

To me, this is a ghastly oversight, especially when “click here’s” are littered throughout the page. These are links that are supposed to describe what you will find when you click the link. There are three reasons for eliminating this harmful practice from your site; Usability, Accessibility and Search Engine Rankings. When you over look this simple potential for greater success, I am sure that you will spend a few hours working on removing these unusable road signs in your site.

Usability: Anchor text links containing “click here” or “more info” provide no information as to what the visitor will find on the other side of those links. The goal of usability is for a site visitor to easily find their way through a site without thinking. Each step is clear and logical; information is easily found and communicated. “Click Here” provides an action, but not a reason.

Accessibility: This creates a headache to anyone using a screen reader or other assistive device to access the page. Most assistive technology allows users to bypass the navigation and go directly to the content. These programs also allow users to list the links on the page, which allows them to quickly navigate to the content. Imagine hearing a page’s link list with “click here” repeated 5 or more times in a row. With no clear description to the page of content – where does that leave the user?

Rankings: Using anchor text is a rankings gold mine. Internal page links can have a positive affect on your rankings if they are structured properly. I can’t imagine that many site managers are striving for top rankings for “click here”, but it seems as through there is a competition. You can affect your rankings by changing the anchor text to be more descriptive of the content and using keywords in the description.

On of the better examples I have seen in a use of content in anchor text is the American Cancer Society’s web site, cancer.org. In developing their navigation, they identified the five major groups of visitors that come to the site and the particular interests they have. By identifying their markets and the unique concerns of each group, they were able to formulate descriptive anchor text links into the site. This allows users to quickly find the information they need.

Nick Usborne in his book, “NetWords” describes what I consider to be one of the best uses of anchor text in a web site, the “action-benefit interaction.” The text link should not only describe the information that will be found when clicking on the link, but it should also offer a promise or a benefit to the user. Employing the buyer’s benefits in your text, and especially your text link is beneficial. Searchers tend to look for solutions to their problems. When a site is focused on the needs of the users, in the language of their need, it not only increases the chances for your site to rank for those terms, but also your site’s ability to connect with those users and increase your chance to convert them to buyers.

The next time you go to write “click here” in the text of your page, stop and ask yourself; Why should the user click this link? Does it properly describe the benefit to the user? Think through your strategy and rewrite that link.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
October 17, 2005





Matt Bailey is the founder of SiteLogic, a web marketing consulting company. He leads seminars and teaches companies how to use their sites more effectively and to build a web business by applying common sense sales and marketing techniques. He is a specialist in interpreting web site statistics into practical usability.

Matt has been in the search marketing industry for ten years, and started leading classes in the late 1990's. One of his first opportunities was as a regular speaker for the Ohio Innkeeper's Association, teaching practical web site marketing techniques. Since that time he has worked with hundreds of companies, instructing them in web marketing principles.

Matt takes a very holistic view of website marketing, including accessibility, which has become a passion and a crusade. His goal with The Web Site Accessibility Blog is to teach companies that they can easy apply search marketing and accessibility techniques to their web sites.