Travel Sites Use “Click Here” More Now Than in 2007

Back in September, 2007, Alex Bainbridge wrote a post called The “Click here” canary where he analyzed the use of “click here” on several UK travel sites. He found that on the sites he reviewed, 1.71% of all pages used “click here” as link text.

His hypothesis was that websites that are better managed–and are better optimized for search engines–will not be using “click here” for links. What he found was that the newer, web-only companies tended to avoid “click here”. Older, traditional companies tended to rely on it more. So the use of “click here” said something about the sites using it. Thus the canary-in-a-coal-mine metaphor.

I thought it would be interesting to see whether, two years later, the matured sites would demonstrate a lower use of “click here”. I used the same methodology he did:

  • Pages that used ”click here” at least once counted by running a search using allintext: “click here” site:domain.com
  • Total pages for a website were calculated by searching site:domain.com

Here’s what I found:

2007 2009
Website # Pages w/ click here Total pages % Pages w/ click here # Pages w/ click here Total pages % Pages w/ click here
LateRooms.com 43 819,000 0.01% 538 175,000 0.31%
TravelRepublic.co.uk 3 31,000 0.01% 8,330 11,700 71.20%
OnTheBeach.com 2 16,900 0.01% 0 685 0.00%
Kayak 137 206,000 0.07% 2,950 2,550,000 0.12%
Wayn.com 260 308,000 0.08% 305 1,720,000 0.02%
eBookers.com 100 56,000 0.18% 3,670 158,000 2.32%
Priceline 2,790 651,000 0.43% 1,290 580,000 0.22%
Expedia.co.uk 1,300 274,000 0.47% 17,900 378,000 4.74%
Thomson.co.uk 62 12,400 0.50% 154 21,800 0.71%
boo.com 1,840 302,000 0.61% 333 42,800 0.78%
Easyjet.com 23 3,610 0.64% 120 11,000 1.09%
ThomasCook.com 159 19,900 0.80% 504 13,500 3.73%
Lastminute.com 13,500 1,620,000 0.83% 24,900 356,000 6.99%
VisitBritain.com 3,860 376,000 1.03% 627 57,300 1.09%
Opodo.co.uk 449 19,700 2.28% 1,540 49,200 3.13%
Travelocity.com 10,400 346,000 3.01% 25,600 1,030,000 2.49%
TravelSupermarket.com 294 9,000 3.27% 498 7,580 6.57%
FlyBmi.com 149 2,640 5.64% 829 39,300 2.11%
Virgin-Atlantic.com 61 1,060 5.75% 210 6,660 3.15%
XL.com 58 859 6.75% 1 2,700 0.04%
Hilton.com 18,600 172,000 10.81% 77,300 516,000 14.98%
Orbitz.com 21,800 110,000 19.82% 16,100 134,000 12.01%
MyTravel.com 2,980 10,500 28.38% 63,800 147,000 43.40%
NationalRail (UK) 3,180 10,200 31.18% 153 37,900 0.40%
firstchoice.co.uk 408 1,240 32.90% 168 3,280 5.12%
Ryanair.com 9,720 15,500 62.71% 2,230 20,900 10.67%
TOTAL 92,178 5,394,509 1.71% 250,050 8,070,305 3.10%

So some of the worst offenders in 2007 have improved. But many of the sites that didn’t use “click here” as a consistent strategy in 2007 apparently do now. I’m so disappointed in you, TravelRepublic.co.uk. What happened? Why did you go from using “click here” on 3 pages in 2007 to 8,330 today?

If you add it all together, these travel sites used “click here” on 1.71% of their pages in 2007 and on 3.10% in 2009: an 81% increase.

I’m not familiar with many of these sites, so I can’t say whether Alex’s original hypothesis about web-only companies avoiding the use of “click here”. Some of the larger sites–Hilton (14.98%), Orbitz (12.01%), MyTravel (43.40%)–use it a lot. But the largest sites–Kayak (0.12%), Wayn (0.02%), Travelocity (2.49%)–use it, just not as much.

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4 Responses to Travel Sites Use “Click Here” More Now Than in 2007

  1. A great revisit!

    What also happened to Expedia.co.uk and Lastminute.com – both seem to have gone the wrong direction too

    Thanks!

    Alex

  2. Pingback: Update on canary click here links [2009 version] (Musings on travel ecommerce)

  3. David Ranby says:

    I recall three different usability companies at various times telling me that on a website I previously managed we should be using “click here” as opposed to just conventional underlines or bolds. Whilst the seo argument asks for keyword-related links I get the sense that the user wants more obvious signposts and hence “C-h”; Can this really be called “going in the wrong direction” if consumers find it easier (but spiders dont!)

  4. Angela says:

    @David

    You raise two interesting questions: #1. Do consumers find “click here” more obvious, and therefore easier to use, than other link text? #2. Why are usability companies continuing to recommend “click here” as link text?

    If #1 is true, then #2 is obvious. Of course you want to test a site with your users to find out what works for them and what doesn’t. So my question to you is, were the usability companies’ recommendations based on observing users interact with your site? Frankly, I would be shocked — SHOCKED! — if this were the case.

    It’s hard to hypothesize without seeing the original research, but one interpretation could be that there was something about the site that users found so confusing, that link text like “click here” was actually an improvement. Does that mean “click here” is a reasonable alternative? I have a hard time believing that.

    In an earlier blog post I listed some thoughts about why “click here” was still in widespread use. Perhaps I should add “usability companies who wrong-headedly recommend its use” as yet another example? If you’d be willing to forward any of the research these companies used to justify the recommendation, I’d be really interested in seeing it!