When writing text on a website and inserting a link to another page, it can often seem like a natural process to use the words “here” or “click here” to let users know where to click, but is this a good search engine optimisation (SEO) practice?
Google’s Lizzi Sassman answered this question in a Google SEO office hours video last week, and said that “here” is “bad link text”, regardless of whether the link is internal or external. The word “here” gives Google no way to understand the context of the link or where it is pointing to. Sassman advises to instead use words related to the link to help both search engines and users make sense of the link.
Her full response can be heard at the 20:14 mark of the below video:
However, it’s interesting that Sassman notes that “here” is bad link text for humans as well as search engines, as you might expect a human reader to be able to understand a link from the words around it. The words “click here” with no explanation would of course give the reader no way of knowing what they were clicking until they clicked or at least hovered over the link, but in a phrase like “to read the article, click here”, the reader would surely understand that this was a link to an article even if the link was only on the word “here”. One might expect that search engines would be able to work that out as well.
On Search Engine Roundtable, Barry Schwartz says he does sometimes link on the word “here” just to aid the flow of his writing, noting that he doesn’t write solely for search engines. The comments section of that article contains some differing opinions too, with some agreeing with Google’s advice and saying they’ve thought for years that “here” is wasted anchor text, while others feel Google should leave writing to writers.
This underlines the importance of considering why you are including links in the first place. You might be adding resources to an article for the reader to click through to if they wish to learn more, in which case you’re probably not too bothered about whether the user clicks them or not – indeed, if it means leaving your site, you might prefer that they didn’t.
On the other hand, if you’re linking to other parts of your site and want to encourage visitors to click through to them, descriptive link text would seem a better option. For example, in a call-to-action to visit an online shop, it would be more effective to place the link on the words “online shop” than to type “click here to visit our online shop” and link on the word “here”.
If you’re looking for online content that works for users and search engines, and can bring you more business, speak to the team here at Engage Web today.