Linking is the quickest way to get the user to the most relevant information. 'Link labels' have two purposes:
- they are the words you use to describe what the user will find when they click on a link
- they are a specific indication of the content for search engines (so should use the words your users will be searching with).
Writing good link labels
URLs – give them a label
Unless you're promoting a particular site address, standard practice is to write a meaningful label for your links that describes the page you're linking to.
|For more information, see the EU tax and customs home page: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm||For more information, go to EU tax & customs|
Re-use the destination page title (more or less)
To reassure users they've reached the right destination when clicking, your link label should ideally be as similar as possible to the main heading on the underlying page.
This doesn't mean you have to slavishly reproduce the whole heading in your link label.Sometimes the heading is not a suitable link label (too long, not clearly drafted, using jargon, etc.)
It's okay to rephrase the heading in your link label – as long as you make sure that enough of the key subject words from the heading are used in the label.
|(heading on page linked to)||(link label pointing to it)|
|Detailed explanation of the different types of public works contract|
Key subject words
Use these to help scanning readers pick out your links at a glance and help search engines find your page.
- non-specific terms like "click here" (too general to attract attention)
- empty phrases – like "information on". This is implied by the context – everything on the web is information!
- type or category alone (report, regulation, communication, consultation, conference, etc.) – include words that describe the content.
- document number alone.
|For information on EU fisheries policy, click here||Information on EU fisheries policy|
|EU fisheries policy – More||More on EU fisheries policy|
|In 2013, the Commission held a public consultation.||In 2013, the Commission held a public consultation on energy security.|
Commission communication on customs and trade COM(2003) 452
You have to be a real insider to know instantly what COM(2003) 452 means.
Your users' words
This depends on your audience – but in particular for non-expert audiences, you should consider replacing jargon with more accessible terms.
On a page for students/young people, these are more likely concrete manifestations of multilingualism.
|Commission delegation in Canada||
Only EU insiders know what 'delegation' means in this context. Its standard English usage refers to a group of representatives sent for a strictly limited time span.
Short – about 3-5 words
In particular – when users can find the full, official title of a linked-to document or institution at a click, there is no need to reproduce this in your label. A shorthand version, with the key subject words (and possibly a numerical reference) is enough.
A handy device for saving space in link labels is the ampersand – & (instead of writing "and").