Arnaud's Blog

Opinions on open source, standards, and other things

Linking the proper way

Admittedly this blog entry might just be seen as another rant but this is meant to be constructive so, hopefully that’s how you’ll see it.

I constantly see people put links in their web pages on words like “here”, “there”, or “this”. It is the wrong way to link to other pages.

For instance, it is wrong to write:

Arnaud posted a blog entry on linking the proper way here.

Although the link does function all right and will achieve the desired effect it violates the basic principle of hypertext linking the web is built on. Indeed, this principle is that the link needs to be placed on the object the page being referenced relates to.

In the above example, clearly the page the link points to is not about “here”. So, instead, you should simply write something like:

Arnaud posted a blog entry on linking the proper way.

In this case the link is set on “linking the proper way” which properly describes what the page being referenced is about.

Alternatively you could do the following:

Arnaud posted a blog entry on linking the proper way.

It is still correct because “a blog entry on linking the proper way” also properly describes what the page is about.

Sometimes, it takes a little effort to get it right. Instead of writing something like:

For more information look at this.

You’ll need to write something like:

For more information look at hyperlinks.

But the extra effort, quite minimal I’d point out, is not wasted. It is not only correct it is also much more informative. It actually provides the reader with a clue of what the linked page is about.

And if that wasn’t enough, linking the proper way has other advantages than informing the reader about what the link is about. The relationship thus established can also be used by search engines in determining what keywords might be relevant to the linked page. It is rather useless for a page to be associated with the word “here”. On the other hand, a search engine might make use of the fact that it is associated with the word “hyperlinks”.

Now, I know that it’s been found that using direct and simple instructions is more effective with some users. That’s what leads to the infamous and omnipresent “click here” but while I’m willing to accept that argument for commercial websites I can’t accept it for other type of content.

I think the reality is that lack of understanding and laziness are responsible for most of the errors made in this regard. Hopefully, this post will help with the former. As for the latter, it’s all up to you but, now that you’ve read this you won’t be able to claim you didn’t know. 😉


January 29, 2009 Posted by | standards | , , | 1 Comment