What does SEO and clicking links got in common?

I just read a very interesting post over at Phil’s blog where he wrote about “Click Here – It’s Not About SEO!“.

In the early days of the Internet, everywhere you went, you saw “click here“. The idea then was that since everything was so new, people did not really know what to do, so you had to tell them – authoritatively. I guess that was what Brian was referring to in his opening paragraph of “Does Telling Someone to “Click Here” Actually Matter?“. Over time, many things have changed, but you still see “click here” everywhere. Why?

In a world where SEO matters, contextual links increases rankings and jaded surfers rule, does “click here” still work? Sometimes, we analyse too much. If you are not reading a page, seeing “click here” will not entice you to click. But if you were reading, does not “click here” make sense in context? Or if you were just lazily surfing around, and you see “click here” then you shrug and say, “Why not?”.

Too many people today surf the web with “intentions”. They are either Internet Marketers trying out new stuff, or Internet Gurus over-seeing their domains (pun intended), or wannabe get-rich-now people like me! Seems like the days of surfing for the sheer pleasure of discovering new things just don’t cut it anymore. There are way too many sites now. Heck, even random surfing has been institutionalized by Stumble Upon! Aaarrggghhh! Can you say “regulated window shopping”?

For anyone not initiated into the world of split testing, SEO, link relevancy and such, does “click here” work better or “visit me now” make a significant difference? Do they care?

They don’t. But you do. You the marketer. You the wanna-get-rich-online-now kindred soul of mine. We care.

For me, I have an opinion (don’t we all…) and that opinion is that people will click on a link if:

  • they know it’s a link
  • they want to know about whatever it is they were reading

Sure, with great keyword relevant links or psychologically primed colored links or any other mechanisms, you can increase the clicks. But right at the bottom of it all, are your readers pulled in by what you write. If not, they would be long gone before they can get to “click here“.

[tags]SEO, contextual links, user interface[/tags]

4 Replies to “What does SEO and clicking links got in common?”

  1. Hi Calvin,

    Interesting take you’ve got here. Of course, having compelling content or products matter above all and when it comes down to it, the majority of the time your link text doesn’t matter as much. Content is king, as they say.

    However, my point in this argument is that it isn’t hard to use proper link text and it will mean that everybody will know where the link is taking them and this will improve the user experience and accessibility of your site. Keeping users happy with your content is of top importance, but ensuring that they enjoy using your site is a vital consideration too, one that little errors like “Click Here” can add up to wipe out.

    By the way, I never got “surfing” the web with no intention. I normally found nothing of interest when I was first introduced to the internet and told to look around. In fact, I didn’t get too far out of the old Yahoo! directory. Hooray for StumbleUpon! :-D

  2. I agree Phil that a relevant link text is good. But, you cannot beat the good old “CLICK HERE!” for sheer commanding effect. It’s like what Brian stated, when it is appropriate, there should be no fear for us to use the dreaded “click here”.

    Actually, I wanted to do an experiment to make all the “click here” in the post clickable and count them… but I got lazy. :)

    As for surfing aimlessly, well, its true that not everyone can do that. Just as how women can be “shopping” for days on end and maintain their high levels of energy is a mystery I aim to solve in this lifetime!

    UPDATE: I made the “click here” page! :D

  3. Calvin, I see “click here” a lot too. What I like better are those clickable links that actually tell you a bit more such as, “Please click here for my free SEO Report.” With this, you know what you are getting before the click and the webmaster gets a juicy keyword inserted into the text –SEO Report — which can help SERPs.

  4. Yes, Matt, that is true. Usually, there are good reasons to use “click here” or to use a more intuitive phrase. It’s up to the writer, really, to find the most appropriate way to communicate meaning and intent. If we are solely dictated by SEO and SERPs, I don’t think Harry Potter would have ever been written. :D

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