A link takes a website user from one web page to another within a particular website, or to a different website, via a click of their mouse or a tap of their finger.
Read our file management guidelines if you are planning to upload or replace a file (ie PDF or Word document) online.
Why you need to stop using 'Click here' as your link text
- Links are important to two audiences: your web visitors and Google:
- On the first point, it's helpful to understand that people scan web pages, rather than read them - and items that grab their attention are links, headings, bullet points, etc. Your links need to tell people exactly where they are going to go - if you use 'Click here' as your link, you don't help your visitors figure out where to go next.
- Even more to the point, people who use screen readers (where a program reads the page to the user) can set them to only read out the links on a page (as they may not have time to listen to your entire page). If you don't use contextual links (see below), you are therefore denying these people the chance to make an informed decision about what page to go to next.
- Google uses a hugely complex algorithm to determine where your page appears in relation to specific keyword searches. Although the algorithm comprises hundreds of factors, and it is confidential, we do know (because very clever people who work on the web have figured it out) that links are one of the factors that can help Google determine where to place your information in its index. If you use the words 'Click here' as your link text, you've wasted an opportunity to get your content indexed correctly.
Writing good contextual links
- A contextual link is a clickable link that is found on a web page and which makes sense within the context of that page.
- A contextual link is usually a form of words with a link embedded within it - eg 'Find out more about our courses'.
- You should aim to provide contextual links that:
- Are meaningful: your link text should tell people where the link is going to take them. For example, 'Book an Open Evening' will take visitors to our Open Evening booking form and 'Professor Catharine Edwards' will take visitors to Professor Edwards' staff page. By providing meaningful link text, you have helped our visitors decide where to go next. This is also very important for software that reads pages aloud for visitors with visual impairment.
- Are unique: your link text should be unique - don't use the same link text for two separate destinations. 'Book an Open Evening' should take visitors to our Open Evening booking form, not a page describing what happens at Open Evenings (if that's where you want to direct visitors, then you could say 'Find out more about our Open Evenings' instead).
- Include keywords: keywords are absolutely critical to the visitor experience, as they use them to find your content, then look for them in the content when they get there. They also enable Google and other search engines to index your content, so they are more likely to be returned for relevant searches. So, for example, we know that entry requirements are important to our visitors and they search for them using 'entry requirements' as a keyword. If you are including a link to entry requirements, then use the words.
- Are short and sweet: your contextual link should ideally be five to six words.
- Do not include the URL: always make sure you embed the link within the text and do not include the actual text of the link - eg 'Find out about our entry requirements at http://www.bbk.ac.uk/student-services/admissions/entry-requirements'. In this example, you would convert the words into the link - eg Find out about our entry requirements.
CREATING WEB ADDRESSES (URLS) IN PLONE
- Plone automatically turns the title of your webpage into a web address (URL) that is correctly formatted, which makes it easier to work on the web. So if you create a page (or folder) in Plone with, for example, the title 'Recruitment and Marketing', in a folder entitled 'Recruitment', you will end up with the following URL: www.bbk.ac.uk/recruitment/recruitment-and-marketing.
- Formatting your page ID (the bit that ends up in the url)
- The page ID should be short - no more than three words (joined by hyphens). If you end up with a page url like this '/history/this-is-a-really-long-url- that-is-going-to-be-pretty-hard-to-remember', that's too long. You should then shorten the id.
- The page ID should be all lowercase: don't include capital letters in your page ID.
- The page ID can't include spaces: if you accidentally include a space in your page ID, it will be replaced by '%20', so it will look like this 'www.bbk.ac.uk/example%20of%20web%20spaces'. This is obviously not ideal. If you create a page and you see %20 in the url, that's because you've included a space. You will need to rename your page ID (see next).
- Renaming your page ID: It is possible to amend page IDs and page titles once they've been published. You can do this using the 'rename' function in folder contents in Plone. Please note: the only time you should rename the ID of a page is when you first create it, so you need to make sure you get it right before you publish your page. If you decide you want to rename your page after it has been published, please contact us via the Yammer web support group first, so that we can advise you accordingly.
What to do if you want to unpublish web content
- When a web page or document on our website is unpublished, deleted or renamed, a visitor who clicks on that link - from another part of our website, from a different website, via a Google search, or via a bookmark on their web browser - will be taken to an error message that tells them the content is no longer available and the link is broken.
- We always want to avoid this, as it adversely affects user experience - people can't find what they are looking for - and it negatively impacts our Google rankings - Google downgrades websites with broken links.
- A redirect is a fix we set up, whereby the user who clicks on old, unpublished content is redirected to relevant live content, usually without them even realising. We commonly use redirects when we launch new parts of the Birkbeck website after retiring older pages.
- Please don't rename pages or files unnecessarily. If you upload files, then please follow our filename guidelines.
- If you are unpublishing or renaming a webpage or a document, you will need a redirect. Please contact us on the Yammer web support group to request one. The creation of a redirect is at the discretion of External Relations and the Web Team. At least 24 hours' notice should be provided when requesting a redirect.
Shortening a link
- Some link addresses are very long and you may want a shorter link to enable you to publicise your content. For example, this long URL - http://www.bbk.ac.uk/student-services/financial-support/postgraduate-loans - also has the short URL, www.bbk.ac.uk/pg-loans, which we use in print.
- If you want a shorter link, then please post a request on our Yammer web support group, with the following information:
- The URL of the link you want to shorten.
- The URL you would like to shorten it to (please test it first to make sure it hasn't already been used).
- We may need to modify your request, but we will get back to you if this is necessary.