If you’re tired of using “Click here” as your primary CTA, here’s how to optimize your links for people and search engines. Nothing is more boring and unmotivating to a user than seeing a big “Click Here” or “Learn More” link. As a user, they’re already researching a product or a service they want to purchase. Of course, they’re going to click links to learn more.
Going Beyond “Click Here” Or “Learn More”
So, how do we motivate users to take the action we want them to?
It begins by:
- Understanding user goals and user behavior.
- Establishing trust.
- Creating accessible, clearly labeled directions that inspire interest.
It sounds so easy in theory, but why are our web pages only converting at an average of 2.8% in the US?
Something is missing from our web pages. If 97.2% of us don’t convert on a webpage, we’re likely confusing our users on what we want them to do to some degree.
Let’s dive into how we can accomplish this.
While You’re Here, Go There Now
The trick to optimizing calls to action is to present the action at the precise moment when your website visitor is most interested in taking the next step.
If a user is met with a call to action before any information, do you think they will click on it?
There must be compelling content preceding the link and an accurate landing page description.
If the landing page isn’t what a user expected, every time you present another opportunity to leave the page, your user may not trust that you can help them solve their problem.
The call to action is clearly labeled in the example below.
Even better, designers understand their customers’ fears over money, ease of use, customer confidence, and the use of color.
First Date Links
When your webpage visitor is ready to take action, they must feel confident that the link invitation is worthwhile, credible, and constructive.
When you present a new product offering, nothing should prevent your visitor from immediately seeing what it is.
We may begin by being sly, especially if we want something. I call these “First Date Links.”
The screenshot above is taken from an eCommerce website. What you see here is the entire top half of the homepage.
There is no text. There are no product images.
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First-time visitors would need to know in advance what the company is selling.
With this website, first-time visitors must scroll down, wait for the gigantic images to load, and scan minimal text to understand the brand and its products better.
The fun part of this “First Date Links” example is knowing that this particular brand runs something special or similar daily.
There is no incentive to “shop now” for regular customers, and first-time visitors have no idea where that “shop now” button is taking them.
They’ve been presented with this link that will likely overwhelm them with choice and decision paralysis – and most likely leave the site.
Try adding specific promotions for your loyal customers, or even first-time customers, into your marketing strategy.
By creating specific promotions segmented by customer type, you’re showing that you understand what they’re searching for.
Trust, credibility, and being forthcoming with your story spice to calls to action on websites and in real life.
If you have watched the original film, “The Wizard of Oz,” you will understand why I refer to these calls to action as “Scarecrow Links.”
These calls to action provide many choices, usually with vague labels and often to the same destination.
In the film, when Dorothy travels the Yellow Brick Road to find Oz, she comes upon the Scarecrow and asks for directions.
Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me. That way is a very nice way… [pointing]
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at the Scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk!
Scarecrow: It’s pleasant down that way too! [pointing in another direction]
Dorothy: That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: Of course, people do go both ways [pointing in both directions]. That’s the trouble. I can’t make up my mind. I haven’t got a brain. Only straw.
Sometimes, calls to action are placed within webpage content at a moment when we don’t want choices. We want to be directed to that cool thing you just showed us.
The top CTA is the best option in the example below because the destination is clearly defined and is the desired user task.
If the company wants customers to learn more about curvy jeans, they can provide this information on the landing page that presents sorting options when they click to shop for all the curvy jeans.
The smaller link to details would make more sense if it explained them.
Is it a size chart? Pricing?
What does that link do for us that “Learn more” doesn’t offer?
What does the user want to do here after they have been shown images of curvy jeans?
Link Optimization Is More Than A Label
The following example is a mixture of a button, text sentence, and text sentence with a clickable icon overlaying a large header image.
If you were to watch someone using your website during a live session, you would most likely watch the mouse over the button, the text, and the text with the icon to see which one is going to go somewhere they want to go.
For this example, the “Learn more” button label provides no information about what we are going to learn.
It is the most visible CTA, and the eyes of the person in the image are facing the button, which is a designer trick because studies show we look to see what the face is looking at.
How can we optimize the CTA for this page?
First, remove the “Learn More” button. We are going to give it an upgrade.
The text below the image in tiny font size is not linked. It asks a question, but the user must find where to get the answer.
It also asks a question that may not be as important or interesting as the one following. I would remove the entire “Want to get to know us better” sentence.
The more compelling story is why.
The button can be more prominent and aligned with the model’s eye gaze. The button label is the invitation to “See why we do what we do” and link that to their story.
Not only does this narrow the choice to one link for one lead task, but it is easier for screen reader software to announce the link and direct visitors listening to the page.
Links with labels such as “Learn more,” “Read more,” “Shop now,” “Submit,” “Click here,” “Download,” and “Continue” are standard.
However, these links are probably less likely to be clicked on than a more specific, inviting connection.
Don’t be afraid to experiment to optimize calls to action by inviting action. Don’t be scared to tell the user what you want them to do by clicking that link.
If anything, you’re guiding them on their purchase decision journey.
Sometimes, we may get too enthusiastic with our link text.
Every Call To Action Is A Risk
Remember that when providing a call to action, it must be placed at the moment you inspired your reader to leave their train of thought.
Every call to action is a risk. At the minimum, your link should:
- Have a clear label with the exact destination.
- Be easy to see and read.
- Be compelling to the person.
- Present itself at the precise moment when it is most beneficial.
- Not have competition (other links) nearby.
- Navigate to the desired task that will provide a benefit to your user.
As humans, our attention span is already short.
Each time a call to action takes them forward, they may have forgotten where they just were.
It is essential to support tasks with well-organized information architecture and navigation that provides signals for a sense of place.
Calls to action are sometimes annoying interruptions.
What is additional incredibly fascinating information hiding behind “Learn more” that is so compelling that you have interrupted their thought process?
It better be worth it.
We have a small window of time to catch a user’s attention.
Using generic language like “Click Here” or “Learn More” won’t cut it anymore. When creating call-to-actions for a user, try to reiterate what you want them to do.
Don’t insert CTA links to have them or take up space.
Rethink your link strategy by viewing it from a user’s point of view: Is there more than one link option? Are they both needed? Are they clear enough for a user to take action?
Furthermore, your content leading to that call-to-action should be enticing enough for them to want to take action.
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Article by Kim Krause Berg, CPACC Accessibility and QA Analyst, Accessibility, BM Technologies, Inc. (BMTX) f/k/a BankMobile, owns Creative Vision Web Consulting, LLC, where she has provided website consulting services that take advantage of over 25 years of experience in website usability, user experience, accessibility, information architecture, mobile design, user testing, software application functional and usability testing and organic SEO.
An early pioneer in search engine optimization techniques in the late 1990s, her passion for user experience became known as Holistic UX and SEO. Today she specializes in website accessibility and works full-time for BMTX as a QA Analyst specializing in web accessibility. She earned the highly distinguished IAAP CPACC Certification and is a featured speaker and writer with an esteemed reputation.
Her pet project is creating a directory of resources focused on human experience and inclusive design called TheUserIsOutThere.com.
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