Earlier I wrote about text links, and several ways to make them perform better on web pages. While text links can appear anywhere on a page and are essential to a site’s navigation structure, I’m referring here to one or several words within a sentence of body copy.
Because sentences should flow naturally, try to add text links in the most logical places, where your readers might appreciate the convenience of being directed to another helpful page. Here are a few simple ways to keep visitors happy:
1. Strike a good balance.
Be discriminating about how many links you add to body copy. Even though text links can be an important part of a search engine strategy, don’t go overboard and risk alienating your readers. (Plus, search engines will probably recognize what you’re up to and discount your efforts.)
2. How is the next page displayed?
When a visitor clicks on one of your links, do they simply move to another page, or is a new tab or window launched in their browser? There are good arguments for either approach.
If all your text links open a new tab/window, after just a few clicks, your visitors may feel like you’ve taken over their browser. Now they need to close several items before actually leaving your site. Probably not the best idea.
By the same token, certain content feels like it should open in a separate frame. For example, if I hit a link to view a brochure, I usually don’t think to hit the back button when I’m done reading it. I simply x-out of the brochure. So if the brochure didn’t open in a new window or tab, I’ve also exited from the site.
One good rule of thumb is to always launch links to brochures, newsletters, etc. in a new frame. Likewise, if you’re directing visitors to pages on someone else’s site, I think it’s better to make these links open separately. If, however, you’re simply moving a visitor from one page to another within your site, where the look and feel of the pages is very similar, it’s better to make these transitions within the same window or tab.
3. Font treatments for text links.
This is largely a matter of taste, although prevailing tastes do evolve over time and it’s best to keep up with current conventions. In the early years of the web, text links were always displayed in “hyperlink blue” and underlined.
Over time, many sites have dropped the underline but continue using blue, although in many different shades. (Or the underline only appears when someone hovers over the link.) Some sites have moved one step further, using a specific accent color that matches their overall color scheme. Just be consistent and use the same color for all text links in body copy.
Of course, the choice of font color for text links also depends on the background color of the page. Always maintain good contrast and readability so your visitors will be more inclined to linger and read more!