How to use Hyperlinks Properly

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We should all know by now how to use hyperlinks properly, but do we? A well structured document with proper use of links enriches the user experience, provides better accessibility and is also great for SEO. It makes the web richer. The link label should be as semantic as possible. Describing what you are linking to. TLDR: stop using “click here” and “read more” as link labels.

Hyperlinks in Hypertext transferred with HTTP

Ever wondered what HTTP stands for? Hypertext transfer protocol. It is the foundation of the World Wide Web which is basically a bunch of HTML that are linked together using hyperlinks. That is the web as we all know it. 

Hyperlinks are magic in hypertext. The phrase hypertext and hypermedia was coined by Ted Nelson back in the 1950s and Tim Berners-Lee is known for putting it all together as the World Wide Web back in 1989.

A hyperlink is a link label that a user can click on to open another document. Traditionally this is visualized with blue underlined text in HTML. Internet magic.

  • HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol
  • Hypertext: Text that contains hyperlinks
  • HTML: Hypertext Markup Language
  • Hyperlinks: A reference to a information that a user can click or tap

Better User Experience with Semantic Link Labels

Users are often scanning text on the internet looking for specific information. Headers, bullet lists and hyperlinks are what stands out and grabs the users attention first. Use links as intended and you get a better user experience.

For example; if you are writing about headless eCommerce or on-demand streaming make sure you link the key phrases so the user knows to click for more information on that specific subject. 

Do not use phrases like “click here for more information”. Or slap a “read more” link at the bottom of some text. It does not provide a good user experience. What does “here” mean anyway. Consider as example: Click here to sign up to Crystallize. Compared to: Sign up to Crystallize for free.

Accessibility or A11y using Hyperlinks

The way you use links is important for web accessibility. Consider that your text will be read by a screen reader. Your links should make sense out of context.  “Click here”, “more” and “read more” are examples of links that make no sense out of context. Screen readers typically say “link” followed by the link label. “link: click here” makes little sense compared to the phrase “link: Sign up to Crystallize for free”.

Consider the frontpage of a newspaper site with several articles followed by a link text that says “Read more”. A screen reader will then read “link: Read more”, “link: Read more”, “link: Read more”. Annoying, right? That would be an example of very bad user experience when accessing your site using a screen reader

Name your link labels so they make sense out of context.