Format links for clicking

5 ways to draw eyes, fingers

Your most important links are calls to action, writes HubSpot’s Kyle James. So how can you increase the chances that they’ll get clicked? Follow these five tips:

Format links for clicking

Living color How can you get more clicks with link size, placement and color? Image by Denise Chan

1. Bold-face your most important links.

Visitors are 20% more likely to click on a bold-faced link, according to HubSpot research.

2. Go graphic.

Clickable images with text under them increased click-through rates by 100% in one Hubspot test.

3. Keep your call to action above the fold.

4. Underline links and make them a different color.

Web users have learned to see underlined, colored text as links. Don’t make them learn a new approach for using your website.

“Users shouldn’t have to guess or scrub the page to find out where they can click,” writes usability expert Jakob Nielsen.

And if it’s not a link, don’t underline it. If you do, someone will click it. And that will confuse and irritate your visitors.

5. Make visited links a different color.

Reserve blue for unvisited links and use a clearly different, less saturated color for visited links, Nielsen suggests.

Some sites use gray for visited links, but Nielsen recommends that you avoid this practice. That’s because gray type is hard to read, and it’s often used online to show that something is unavailable.

Read Nielsen’s Guidelines for Visualizing Links and Link List Color on Intranets.

  • Get to the point faster

    Because web visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold

    Consider the numbers:

    • Web visitors spend 80% of the time above the fold, or on the first screen of a webpage, and just 20% below the fold.
    • Material near the top of a webpage gets 17x the attention of that near the bottom.
    • The average difference in how users treat information above vs. below the fold is 84%.

    Get to the point faster

    But where’s the fold? Content that shows up above the fold on a 30-inch monitor can take as many as five screens on a smartphone.

    Reach readers where their eyes are.

    So how can you reach your readers where their eyes are?

    At Writing for the Web and Mobile — our two-day hands-on web-writing master class on June 12-13 in Chicago — you’ll learn how to:

    • Pass the 1-2-3-4 test to put your message where web visitors' eyes are. Tip: Try this simple test on your smartphone for best results.
    • Make it a mullet — and 4 more steps for writing effective web heads. (No. 5 is the most important thing you can do to improve the ROI of your site.)
    • Optimize webpages for Google and humans with our three-part test. Note: If you're still using SEO tricks you learned in the 'oughts, Google may be penalizing your pages.
    • Don't drop the deck. Learn to make the most of the best-read element on your webpage.
    • Steal headline-writing tips from the BBC — the source of the best news heads on the web, according to Nielsen.


Sources: Kyle James, “9 Ways to Optimize Your Links and Draw Attention to Your Calls to Action,” HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog, March 4, 2009

Jakob Nielsen, “Guidelines for Visualizing Links,” Nielsen Norman Group, May 10, 2004

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