Link length in body text

12 Apr 2010 - 3:53am
4 years ago
8 replies
3003 reads
Dimiter Simov
2006

I am having an interesting discussion with some of my colleagues about link lengh and I need some facts and opinions.

We are working on a text (the subject matter is irreleveant) that describes a service, gives details, and points to additional resources, related services, and information. I am optimising the text for scannability. I believe that reasonably long link anchors are more visible, thus more scannable. I have made all links as explanatory as possible. For example, in "We offer special services for corporate clients" in link to a page exploring special services about corporate clients, so the link anchor is "special services for corporate clients" instead of just "services".

The person responsble for the search engine optimization of the text supports the approach with longer link anchors. The person responsible for the graphic design and aesthetic appearance claims: "The scanning eye is a reading eye. When we offer long underlined text, which is many times less readable than regular text, we will easily loose the reader's interest. We should count on the fast recognition of a shorter anchors and additional information in the surrounding text." I can see his point. I am not sure I can easily agree.

Some references:

 

Any ideas, research results, or additional knowledge on link length? I will greatly appreciate anything that supports the idea that short link anchors work better than long ones in text body.

Comments

12 Apr 2010 - 4:50am
Andrew Gill
2009

Hello,

My experience is that you do not "loose the reader's interest" with long underlined text (hyperlinks). If anything you increase attention.

Recommend you limit hyperlinks as a guideline to 3-8% of the entire copy.


Hope this helps.

cheers,
Andy
Linkstream.co.uk - SEO Web App

On 12 April 2010 10:13, Dimiter Simov <jimmy@netagesolutions.com> wrote:

I am having an interesting discussion with some of my colleagues about *link lengh* and *I need some facts and opinions*.

We are working on a text (the subject matter is irreleveant) that describes a service, gives details, and points to additional resources, related services, and information. I am optimising the text for scannability. I believe that reasonably long link anchors are more visible, thus more scannable. I have made all links as explanatory as possible. For example, in "We offer special services for corporate clients" in link to a page exploring special services about corporate clients, so the link anchor is "/special services for corporate clients/" instead of just "/services/".

The person responsble for the search engine optimization of the text supports the approach with longer link anchors. The person responsible for the graphic design and aesthetic appearance claims: "The scanning eye is a reading eye. When we offer long underlined text, which is many times less readable than regular text, we will easily loose the reader's interest. We should count on the fast recognition of a shorter anchors and additional information in the surrounding text." I can see his point. I am not sure I can easily agree.

Some references:

* UIE recommend longer anchors for better scent:
 www.uie.com/reports/scent_of_information/ [1].
* Hobo SEO recommends link length of up to 55 characters
 www.hobo-web.co.uk/seo-blog/index.php/anchor-text-length/ [2].
* Nielsen recommends link anchors to be specific, as brief as possible,
 beginning with the information-carrying word -
 www.useit.com/homepageusability/guidelines.html [3].
* I also found the SEO and Usability discussion on this list from 2 years
 ago www.ixda.org/node/15788 [4].

 

Any ideas, research results, or additional knowledge on link length? I will greatly appreciate anything that supports the idea that short link anchors work better than long ones in text body.

(((Ple
12 Apr 2010 - 7:23am
Angela Colter
2009

Not having done any research on link text length, I can't really give you any facts. So here are some opinions.

If the goal is to make it easy for people to scan the link text and find what they're looking for, the best way to do that is choose link text that allows people to predict what they're going to get when they click the link. 

In the example you cite, you advocate using "special services for corporate clients" instead of just "services". Do the extra words "special ... for corporate clients" give you any additional information that "services" does not? Do you offer any unspecial services? Any for non-corporate clients? If not, I don't see how adding these extra words helps users predict what they're going to get on the destination page.

The link text you choose is critically important for human beings, of course, but also for SEO, as you've pointed out. Does this link text satisfy either? Can you imagine a potential customer saying, "I need special services! For corporate clients!" Can you imagine anyone typing those keywords into Google. Neither can I.

My point being, It's much more important to choose the right words to use in your link text. While the number of words used isn't irrelevant, in my opinion, it's much less important that figuring out the right words.

12 Apr 2010 - 7:42am
andrvit
2010

I think that an important issue for SEO is to have the most important words at the beginning of the link. There are some SEO sources demostrating that Google doesn't use words after 7th.

So a long link maybe is a good choice, but be careful with the words you use. IMHO "special services for corporate clients" is not meaningful for search engines.

What does mean "special services for corporate clients"? Nothing if you consider the text link without reading the entire page :-)



 

12 Apr 2010 - 10:50am
ray.dahl
2010

What does mean "special services for corporate clients"? Nothing if you consider the text link without reading the entire page :-)

To offer an opinion and debate the point, a link of "services" means even less, unless you consider the link within context. More meaningful words in theory should be better both in terms of SEO and conveying to the user what is at the other end of the link.

There is always the "click here" option  ;-)

 


12 Apr 2010 - 11:09am
Dimiter Simov
2006

Thanks for your comments. I used the 'services' example to illustrate the point of long versus short. Of course, there is additional context created by the site, the page, the page content, other links on the page, and sub-headings. I do not want to go into the specifics of any particular example.

I am trying to understand whether there is a principle. All other factors being equal, are short or long link anchors better, faster, more understandable, preferred by users, and so on. What dependencies exist among the various factors, if any (for example, experienced users prefer short links; novices work faster with long link anchors).

13 Apr 2010 - 11:30am
msweeny
2006

Good Morning All,

We know that customers scan Web pages and print out the ones that they want to read more leisurely or more intensely. Under these conditions, link length would have no meaning whatsoever. However, for search engine optimization, it means a great deal. Search engines afford additional weight to pages where the link text pointing to the page contains keyword phrases found in the search query. So, longer, keyword phrase rich anchor text is much more meaningful than short text links. Online, longer links are easier to spot.

Short anchor link text is one of the most frequent issues that I address as an optimization "wizard." Every time someone uses "click here" or "learn more" as link text, one of Tinkerbell's kindred bites the dust.

marianne FatDUX Search

Thanks for your comments. I used the 'services' example to illustrate the
point of long versus short. Of course, there is additional context created by
the site, the page, the page content, other links on the page, and
sub-headings. I do not want to go into the specifics of any particular
example.

I am trying to understand whether there is a principle. All other factors
being equal, are short or long link anchors better, faster, more
understandable, preferred by users, and so on. What dependencies exist among
the various factors, if any (for example, experienced users prefer short
links; novices work faster with long link anchors).

13 Apr 2010 - 12:21pm
Angela Colter
2009

@Marianne,

I agree wholeheartedly that "click here" and "learn more" are bad examples of link text. But they're not bad because they're short; they're bad because a) they're meaningless out of context and b) no one in the history of the internet (I would wager) has ever Googled "learn more."

 

13 Apr 2010 - 5:30pm
willdonovan
2009

I cite three great references here that can help you find and measure what works for your site because there are your customers having a user experience that is unique to the journey they have on your site. You would all know your customers / users and re-directing the focus on 

Gerry McGovern - customer care words
Even if your SEO campaign works and this is the best thing to do for SEO, once people come to your web page their context of finding information changes to a more refined 'what information can I find from YOU'. Gerry continually uses the example of SEO on 'cheap hotels'. However when someone is on your everyone is not looking for backpacker accommodation, the users scale of cheap varies. Once on your site they want indications of your product, the core 'search' activity is over or paused.

Doing it Wrong, Quickly - Mike Moran - measure what you do, make changes on peoples points of view, measure the result. If it isn't effective, if not, change it back. No one person is right but your customers are. Get the facts.

Fit's Law - larger objects are easier in attracting the eye and select, however we don't like large blobs of text and large links can be ugly.

Googd Luck

William Donovan - (from his Google android phone)

On 14/04/2010 7:06 AM, "Angela Colter" <acolter@gmail.com> wrote:

@Marianne,

I agree wholeheartedly that "click here" and "learn more" are bad examples of link text. But they're not bad because they're short; they're bad because a) they're meaningless out of context and b) no one in the history of the internet (I would wager) has ever Googled "learn more."



 

(((

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