If your website contains hyperlinks that contain the phrase “click here" — with no other context — you’re not providing a great experience for your users.
Hyperlinks should contain clear, accurate text that tells users what they’ll find by clicking on the link. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which is the international standard for digital accessibility, provides a simple rule for link text in WCAG 2.1 Success Criterion 2.4.4, “Link Purpose (In Context):”
The purpose of each link can be determined from the link text alone or from the link text together with its programmatically determined link context, except where the purpose of the link would be ambiguous to users in general.
If a link reads “click here,” “learn more,” or “read more,” you’re not telling users anything about the link’s purpose — you’re simply telling them that they can click on the link (and most users understand that hyperlinks can be activated).
That can be frustrating for many people. Unfortunately, it’s a common user experience (UX) issue, but it’s easy to correct.
Why is hyperlink text important for accessibility?
There’s a common misconception that people with disabilities read through every word of content. Very few people take this approach when browsing the internet.
For example, when you opened this blog, there’s a good chance that you scanned the subheadings before deciding whether you wanted to read the article. You skimmed the content, looking for important keywords or phrases. Your time is valuable, so you looked for the information you need.
People who use screen readers and other assistive technologies (AT) often use the same techniques. They might jump around your page looking for important features — and hyperlinks are certainly important.
The problem with a “click here" or “learn more" link is that it’s unnecessarily vague. It’s also presumptive: You’re assuming that users will want to click on the link, despite the fact that you haven’t provided them with a reason to take that action. You’re also assuming that they’re clicking, rather than tapping their screens or selecting the link through voice controls.
If your “click here" link is a call to action, you’re making an especially big mistake: Without clear information about what’s on the other side of the hyperlink, many users will back out of the process.
Great link text gives users more information — but not too much
Of course, it’s also possible to go too far in the other direction. If your link text is too long, you’re effectively forcing screen reader users to listen to an enormous amount of info:
Activate this link to learn about our new product, “Easy Work,” and to see how it can change your life by reducing the time you spend on repetitive tasks.
Simple text that reads “Easy Work task management software" would be much more effective.
Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when writing link text:
Quickly describe the destination of the link. “Click here" is rarely necessary.
Wherever possible, use the page’s title as the link text. This assumes that the title is descriptive enough for users — if that’s the case, the page title is probably the best link text. For example, here’s one of our blogs: Why Page Titles Are Important for Web Accessibility.
Make sure that all links to the same destination use the same link text.
You can also provide context for the link in the text that directly precedes the link. For example: Here’s an article we wrote about improving accessibility by limiting the number of hyperlinks on each page.
Avoid redundant links, which can slow down keyboard-only users and people who use assistive technologies.
While you’re reviewing your links, you should also make sure they’re visually distinguishable. The best practice is to leave blue as the default color for your hyperlinks and to underline them, which makes them more noticeable for people with vision disabilities.
Related: Quick Guide to Accessible Hyperlinks
Think about every user when creating your content
Every member of your organization has a responsibility to think about real-life users. That certainly applies to your content team — if everyone understands the importance of link text, you’ll spend less time fixing mistakes.
For more tips, download our free eBook: The Definitive Website Accessibility Checklist.