Have you thought much about the links that you include on your webpage, newsletter, or online marketing materials? Before I started writing for the web, I never really realized how important they were. But those little guys have a lot more to say than you or I might have imagined.
For one, internet scanners might scroll down the page quickly, looking for a brightly colored link that directs them to what they want. Secondly, links let people browse your site at their convenience: You put just a blurb of your free article on your site; If people want to read more, they’ll click through and do it. If they don’t want to read it, then they’re not forced to scroll past your entire article, which didn’t interest them anyway.
So here’s the deal. Good links have a few characteristics in common:
• They’re short – keep them down to just a few words
• They’re descriptive – tell your reader exactly what you want them to do!
• They’re punchy – use action words, and keep those words at the front
As a general rule, you never want to use “Click Here” by itself: it’s not descriptive enough, and you’ve just wasted an opportunity to get your reader to click. Tell them why they’re clicking, such as “Click Here to Join Now” or “Click Here for More Information.”
What to Say?
Now, here comes the technical stuff. When using teasers – or just short blurbs that describe a longer article – there may be some science in how you link readers to new information. In a MarketingSherpa study, the online marketing gurus found that certain words in your links receive better click-through rates.
What is it, you ask? According to Marketing Sherpa, “Click to Continue” had the highest click-through conversion – 8.53% — compared to “Continue to article” (3.3%) and “Read more” (1.8%). Interested? You can read more here (oops, ineffective link text!).
The guys at FutureNow’s blog, www.grokdotcom.com, seem to have their own theories. They don’t seem to think any of the above suggestions are very effective since there’s no call to action. You can read the full article here
They suggest that your hyperlink should be persuasive. So instead of writing:
Donate to Save the Sea Turtles! Read More.
They suggest you sell a little harder in your links, like so:
Donate to Save the Sea Turtles! See how much your dollars mean to us.
Baiting the Reader
Now, I’ve saved the best tidbit for last. There is a little trick that you can use that normally piques your readers’ interest, compelling them to click through – I’d even say that this works regardless if you use “Click to continue,” “Read more,” or whatever else you can think of. It’s an old trick, just watch:
Steve had been taking the new trial medication for two weeks, but he still didn’t feel any better. After a quick Google search, he realized that he might be in the “placebo” control group. Read more.
That’s not bad, but watch this:
Steve had been taking the new trial medication for two weeks, but he still didn’t feel any better. After a quick Google search, he realized … Click to continue.
See what I did? By cutting off the text in the middle of the sentence, I’ve left the reader with a question: What did Steve realize? And it’s a pretty irresistible hook. Next time, give readers only a little of what they need to know – make them click through to satisfy their curiosity.
Now, you can take that information and do with it what you will. For more reading, you can see some of these other blog posts about writing effective links: