Don’t overwhelm readers with options
In one study — on a web page with, granted, a ton of links — visitors looked at 71% of links in the first paragraph, but none of the links in paragraphs 13 through 24.
That’s the cost of over-differentiation, write Kara Pernice, Kathryn Whitenton and Jakob Nielsen, the authors of How People Read on the Web.
“Pages with too many microcontent elements are like a busy intersection with too many road signs.”
— Amy Gahran, creator of the weblog Contentious.com
Bottom line: The more magnetic elements you include — like links, bulleted lists and bold-faced text, the less pull they’ll have.
Bottom line: To make the most of each link on the page, avoid overlinking.
Links are like traffic signals, writes Amy Gahran, media consultant and content strategist.
To avoid overwhelming visitors with options, limit microcontent to:
- No more than five or six sections to a page
- No more than three to four emphasized items (links, bold-face lead-ins, etc.) per section
Another way to think about it: Include no more than five links per thousand words, unless your blog features lots of research.
Don’t duplicate links.
Extra links waste web visitors’ time and deplete their attention, according to the Nielsen Norman Group.
Web visitors spend most of their time above the fold. Take advantage of this practice by placing your key links on the first screen.
Mobile readers click less 40% often, and they’re more likely to click the first link than subsequent ones. So put the most important link first.
And think one call to action per post.
Resources on link length, formatting:
- How to write a link that’s the right length: Give visitors enough information to decide to click
- What’s the best link format? 5 ways to draw eyes, fingers
Sources: Hoa Loranger, “The Same Link Twice on the Same Page: Do Duplicates Help or Hurt?” Nielsen Norman Group, March 13, 2016
Kara Pernice, Kathryn Whitenton, and Jakob Nielsen; How People Read on the Web: The Eyetracking Evidence; Nielsen Norman Group; Sept. 10, 2013