We’re going to look at two different aspects of links today — styling, and the words that you use with your link.
To Underline or Not to Underline
Back in the dark ages of the web world, there wasn’t much control over being able to style links on a website. If you hadn’t clicked on a link it was blue, once visited, it turned purple, and they were ALWAYS underlined. So, from the stone age, we were trained… if it is underlined, it’s a link.
Eventually, we were able to change the colors on links, but that underline was still there — until CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) was accepted across all the browsers and you could do simple things like defining your fonts, colors, and links. At that point, the design world let out a cheer, and links were set to no longer be underlined. Websites were no longer “marred” by these words that had underlines!
Fast forward and businesses started turning to the analysts for a challenge they were facing. Click through rates and engagement on their websites had dropped significantly. The analysts dug in and found that lower engagement was related to the links within content having the underlines removed, and were noted only by being a different color. Advances in the ability to design had decreased engagement!
This war still goes on today because “no one wants an ugly website”. We’ve stepped away from the debate and focused on what’s important — engagement. That means that we strongly adhere to having links within your content underlined.
So, do you have your links set to have the underline hidden? Do an experiment — have someone help you update the styles so links are underlined and do a before / after check on Google analytics for how people are interacting with them.
Effective Wording on Links
The second aspect of having your links be effective is the words you use to make the link. We’ve talked about the successful ingredients for a website, and how to properly structure it. You know that people are scanning through your content, looking for the information they need and the next action they need to take.
Here’s a Good Test
Glance through the following two sentences and answer the question: “Which one am I super clear on what is going to happen if I click the link?”
1 — We have a super information-packed email that we send out on a weekly basis. Our goal is to give you tips you can put to use on your own without having to be super geeky. All you have to do is sign up now. Click here.
2 — We have a super information-packed email that we send out on a weekly basis. Our goal is to give you tips you can put to use on your own without having to be super geeky. All you have to do to get our email is click now to sign up.
In the 2nd example, you don’t need to remember the content you just read. You see all the detail you need to know as the link.
It’s very simple, just tell people what’s behind the click… and they’ll click… they’ll click much more than if you just tell them to click!
This concept also applies to your Call to Action (CTA) buttons. Never use the default “Learn More” button names when linking to your services. Because we scan pages, by the time we get to a CTA button, people don’t remember the subheading with your service/program name, or the blurb about it. The only place that it’s ok to have the buttons say the same thing is if you have a blog and you’ve got a “read more” link or button.
Like the title of one of my favorite books on effective websites — “Don’t Make Me Think!” (by Steve Krug) — the less people have to think about the process you’re leading them through — from landing on your home page to becoming a client — the more they will want to work with you because you’ve made solving their problem painless from the start.
I’d like to encourage you to take a browse through your website. Do your links stand out to you? And, do they describe what’s behind the door when you do click it? As always, we’re here to help you. If you’ve got questions, my brain is pickable. If you do make changes and want an experienced eye to take a look — reach out, we’re here to take care of you!