Monthly Archives: May 2009

“click here” must die!

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but click here instead.”

Doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

Ladies and gentlemen, it is the year 2009 and it is time to abolish the awful phrase “click here.”

Click here is supremely uninformative. Why should I click there?  Where are you leading me?  If you can create a hyperlink on the world wide web, you can think of some descriptive text to label it with.  Chances are I’m not going to follow your stupid link anyway, so you’ve just missed an opportunity for a bit of mindshare by at least naming the destination you wish to send me to.  As an example, here’s the sentence that set me off:

If you are interested in learning more about the study of the history of psychology – how it may be implemented in to your department or curriculum – or how to become a psychologist-historian yourself please click here.

Well, I’m not going to click there. But the author might have said instead:

…you might find interesting the APA journal History of Psychology or my own recent paper History’s Mysteries Demystified: Becoming a Psychologist–Historian.

I’m not going to click either of those links, either. But look what the new sentence has done – now I am aware there is a journal devoted to this subject, and that the author has published an article on the topic. I even know the name of the article! I didn’t particularly want to know this, and if “click here” was my only invitation I wouldn’t. But putting it right there in the text conveys everything you want without requiring any effort from the reader.

Link text tells search engines what the destination page is about. Google is the best example. When hundreds of bloggers linked the phrase “miserable failure” to the Bush White House webpage, the first result for searching “miserable failure” was GWB’s smirk. That’s a fun example of gaming the system, but we can teach the Web by using descriptive language in our link text.

Future generations will judges us by the contents of our anchor tags!

Now, for your and my amusement, more quotations updated for the mid-1990’s Web:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. Click here for my thoughts about Caeser.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that you could click here for more information.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men click here.

May click here be with you.