Are hyperlinks good or bad?

Hyperlinks, websites and users

On the whole hyperlinks help a user to navigate from page-a to page-b but if there are too many links on a page it can cause a lower attention span causing users to jump around. Hyperlinks, from a web accessibility viewpoint, take a blind user longer to view a webpage because screen readers will read aloud the actual text, as well as, metadata within those hyperlinks. So limiting the number of hyperlinks on a website is very important for everyone.

Simplified photo showing that hyperlinks are complex.

Simplified photo showing that hyperlinks are complex. From: FastCodesign

What to include in a hyperlink?

Having full hyperlink data is very important, and good practice, so everyone can benefit. All hyperlinks should make use of metadata (e.g. alt=”…”, title=”…”). Write call to actions rather that “click here”. Check that your hyperlinks are not broken, the most common reason for changing a hyperlink, and remember to be informative when writing links.

W3C have a good example of a good call to action hyperlink.

Hyperlinks, SEO and rel=”nofollow”

Hyperlinks are important for ranking because links count as votes, if you like, which allows a search engine to know whether or not a website is a good quality website. It is highly unlikely that website-a will link to website-b if they did not like the content. But it is possible that a poor website may have an excellent image. In this case you should consider using the rel=”nofollow” command just before the title=”…” tag. The rel=”nofollow” tells search engines not to go onto that link; thus this link will not be counted as a vote. So all links, strictly speaking, do not boost a website’s ranking.

There is lots of detailed information on hyperlinks online, for instance rel=”me”, if want to find out more after reading this post. Is there anything you would like clarification on? Do you have good examples of hyperlinks you would like to share? E-mail or tweet Gerald.

Posted by Gerald Murphy

References

  1. Gunter, S.K. and Valade, J. (2008) Master Visually. Canada: Wiley Publishing Inc.
  2. Mohamed, M. Rahman, R.A. Tin, L.C. Hashim, H. Maarof, H. Nasir, N.S.M. Zailani, S.N. Esivan, S.M.M. and Jumari, N.F. (2011) Reading behaviours of students in Kolej Datin Seri Endon (KDSE). International Journal of Educational Management. 26(4) pp. 381 — 390
  3. W3C. (no date) [Online] Don’t use “click here” as link text
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