To Click Here, or Not to Click Here: That Is the SEO Question.

Today, I’m delighted to introduce a guest post by one of my favourite bloggers, web and social media expert Brad Shorr of Word Sell, Inc. Regular readers will know that here at goodcopybadcopy we like extremely detailed discussions of business vocab, but even I had never guessed that there was so much to know about those two little words “click here”. Thanks, too, to Brad for introducing me to the phrase “link juice”. Read on, Macduff.

To sleep: perchance to dream – click here.

Did you click on the link just above? Weren’t you itching to? That’s the power of the much debated “click here” link. People move quickly on the web. Subtlety doesn’t work when you’ve got a handful of seconds to influence visitors. Whack them upside the head with clear instructions, and you’ll get those precious click-throughs.

But wait, says the SEO expert, Using “click here” anchor text is a wasted opportunity!

This is true. Keyword rich anchor text does indeed enhance search engine visibility, primarily for the page you are linking to. The “linking to” part is the all important consideration. Let’s sharpen our thinking by looking at five link situations a bit more closely.

• If you are linking to an external web page and have no particular interest in boosting its search performance, using “click here” doesn’t hurt a thing.

• If you are linking to an internal web page, you presumably want to boost its search performance. Thus for internal links, using anchor text relevant to the target page would seem to be essential. However, we need to make one distinction.

• If your internal link is mainly a navigational aid – an effort to help visitors more easily find related information – by all means use keyword rich anchor text.

• But, if your internal link exists to move people to the target page come hell or high water, let keywords take a back seat. Do whatever you must to force the action. And remember: brevity is the soul of click.

• Finally, for an inbound link to your site, always strive for maximum link juice. Ideally, you want people linking to you with your target page’s primary keywords, not “click here” stuff.

Now, skillful writing gives you a chance to have it both ways.

Learn more about slings and arrows
Click here for photos of slings and arrows
Buy now – slings and arrows

Still, the data I’ve seen suggest a simple “click here” will generate more click-throughs than keyword rich workarounds. You needn’t obsess over it, though – testing is easy enough. If your optimized anchors aren’t producing suitable numbers, give “click here” a try and see what happens.

Cover Your Mortal Coil and Avoid a Sea of Troubles

• Direct command, “click here” anchor text loses its persuasive effect when overused. Think about that mother we’ve all seen barking out orders to her toddler in the grocery store. You know what happens: the kid tunes her out. Mom screams, “KEVIN! GET YOUR A** OVER HERE!” Kevin grins and knocks over a pyramid of onions. The last thing you need is a bunch of Kevins running around your site.

• Along the same lines, pyramiding keyword rich internal links, especially when a single phrase is used over and over, can hurt your SEO cause rather than help it. Whenever Google picks up the scent of keyword stuffing tactics, they smell something rotten in the state of Denmark.

To sum up – writing anchor text is all about context. Always using “click here” and never using “click here” are foolish consistencies. The link’s the thing. If you know why you are including a particular link, what its purpose is – you will find the right words to describe it, with plenty of time left over to take in a play.

Brad Shorr, Word Sell, Inc., specializes in content strategy, and created the preceding hyperlink strictly for link juice. He now brings you the following links in a vigorous bid for your business.

For more about his blog consulting services, click here
For more about his content optimization services, please click here
For an extremely useful Website Content Evaluation, CLICK HERE THIS VERY INSTANT!

(OK, Brad, that’s enough – Clare)

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14 Responses to “To Click Here, or Not to Click Here: That Is the SEO Question.”

  1. Sarah Turner says:

    Good post. I once read that 25% of visitors click ‘do not click here’. Go figure!

  2. Clare Lynch says:

    Sarah

    I’m not sure I’d want such insubordinates poking around my site – if they can’t obey a simple rule, they can go elsewhere!

    On the other hand, I recently read about a guy who tested the difference in response between “Follow me on Twitter” and “You should follow me on Twitter”. The latter was overwhelmingly more effective, proving that we humans like to be bossed around a bit. I’m thinking of only ever using “You should click here” from now on. What thinkst thou, Brad?

  3. Brad Shorr says:

    Clare, Thanks again for letting me guest post on your wonderful blog. What I’ve read about Twitter suggests that saying “please” gets the largest percentage of response, which blows your theory and mine out the window. This matter calls for some A-B split testing, don’t you think? Maybe we should spend a week asking for retweets saying, “Please retweet”, and the next week saying, “You should retweet this.” If results show no preference, we can move on to threats, bribery, and intimidation.

    Sarah, If you look hard enough, you will find statistics to support any SEO assertion ever put forward. But there is indeed a wealth of psychological testing to support the idea that we humans love to get the inside story, to learn a secret. The technique is a little gimmicky for anchor text, but works very well in headlines. “Learn the Secret of …,” “Don’t Read This Unless You’re Ready to Earn Your First Million,” etc. Nobody likes to be on the outside looking in.

  4. Clare Lynch says:

    Having assembled all the evidence, I’ve established that the most powerful formula is:

    “You should not click here. No, really, please don’t click here.”

  5. Great post, Brad! You bring real clarity to this debate. My link choice before was random, driven by taste more than concrete valuation. I will be making use of the criteria you give starting today. Thanks.

  6. Brad Shorr says:

    Hi Shari, Glad you found the post helpful. I hope a little extra time put into anchor text selection will improve your results in a meaningful way.

  7. Very nice, Brad. I learn something new every time you talk about SEO.

    But here’s something for the both of ya. I changed my website Twitter logo from “follow me” to “talk to me” because I thought it sounded friendlier and more “interactive”, y’know? But I have no idea if it’s better or not. On the other hand, not a day goes by I don’t collect a new follower or 3 or 4. Maybe it is.

  8. Brad Shorr says:

    Robert, SEO is all about testing – you might well be right. I’m wondering … if you used a unique bit.ly URL as your Twitter link, you could track click throughs. Then, you could see if word changes make a difference. “Talk to me” sounds more “welcoming, and maybe it is.

  9. Once upon a time, “Click here” was appropriate as people were getting used to the web and designers started removing underlines from links using CSS. But now, people know links. So it’s more effective to know what’s behind the links by using the right phrase.

    I am not sure I like the “click here for bows and arrows” where “click here” has no link. Some people will click on “click here” thinking it’s supposed to be linked. I’ve seen this mistake more times than I expected.

    Insightful post as always, Brad.

  10. Brad Shorr says:

    Meryl, Your comment raises enough issues for a whole other post. There’s no question that meaningful keywords are the best day in/day out option for web content. We are in complete agreement on that. However, your comment got me thinking …

    Agreed that “click here” is most suitable for early learning curve visitors – but then the firm needs to determine how many of its visitors fall into that category.

    With regard to the underscore issue – removing underscores makes sense because of readability. But doing so makes color schemes more important than ever. I recently changed my hypertext link from brownish-red to blue, because the brown blended in with the regular text, making links hard to spot. Anchor text should also have a hover color to further identify it as a link. I would argue that if the color scheme works, the “click here” with no link option is workable, though clumsy I agree. Thanks for bringing up these very important issues!

  11. Love it, Brad!

    The power of “Click here” as link anchor text is that it’s a call to action. (And we should never underestimate the power of a simple and direct call to action.) That’s why I think that, in instances where we want to use keywords, your suggestion of “Click here for photos of slings and arrows” represents a great compromise — or shall we say a great marriage of psychological salesmanship and SEO strategy. This particular call to action may lose a bit of its immediacy by being less succinct, but that will be more than compensated for by its gain in SEO value.

    I do wonder, though, if keywords in anchor text actually pass on SEO value only to the page they link to and not the original page. One would think that, since the keywords appear on the original page (albeit as part of link text), they would pass on some SEO value to the originating page, as well, since search engines would be able to locate these links in response to search queries and therefore send targeted traffic to the originating page.

    I have to agree with you, though, that, for those who don’t want to pass on link juice to the linked-to website, using “Click here” likely wouldn’t hurt the original page’s SEO, as long as the rest of the content on the page includes enough keywords.

    Enjoyed your post!
    Jeanne

  12. Terry Heath says:

    A search for “home” on Google returns 4.9 Billion results. Some SEO-consious bloggers will change the anchor text for their “home” link to a targeted keyword, but that might bring up usability issues when readers just want to go “home.” On the other hand, just how important is a “home” link for a blog where posts are usually the main content and we can usually find some link in the sidebar to the post we want? As with the “click here” link, you just have to weigh the options.

  13. Brad Shorr says:

    Terry, I think clarity reigns supreme for navigational links, which is why “Home” is usually the best way to go. When visitors become disoriented, their first impulse is to exit the site. To generate search engine juice, use keyword rich textual links to the home page in blog posts.

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