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Information Scent3:38 with Dan Gorgone
The concept of Information Scent refers to how strong a link is when you compare the user’s expectation to the reality of what it links to. Strong links are clear and obvious; when you see them, you know exactly what you’ll get. However, weaker links are more vague; they don’t provide clues as to what you’ll find or what you can do.
Things to Consider
- Do you provide links to your primary products and services? If so, do you use links that are easy to understand by the public?
- Are any of the links in your navigation menu named after a product name or term used by your company? If so, would a newcomer to the site understand what it means?
- Are any of the links on your site labeled "Click Here"?
- If you provide links to file downloads, do you note what kind of file the user will see? (e.g. "Printable Catalog (pdf)")
If you were presented with a link that looked like this, 0:00 what do you think you would find when you clicked on it? 0:04 It seems pretty clear, right? 0:06 Well, how about this one? 0:09 Not as obvious. 0:10 Finally, what about this one? 0:13 Not too good. 0:15 In each case, it's clear you have a link, 0:17 but what you'll find behind each one is a mystery... 0:20 unless the link contains a strong scent of information. 0:23 The concept of Information Scent refers to how strong a link is 0:27 when you compare the user's expectation to the reality of what it links to. 0:31 Strong links are clear and obvious. 0:36 When you see them, you know exactly what you'll get. 0:38 However, weaker links are more vague. 0:42 They don't provide clues as to what you'll find or what you can do. 0:45 But, what does it all mean? 0:49 Why is Information Scent important? 0:51 When it comes to your business, 0:53 it can mean the difference between revenue and a missed sale. 0:55 If users are unsure about the purpose of a link, 0:59 they'll be hesitant to click on it. 1:02 The more doubt a user has about the navigation or content of a website, 1:04 the less trust they'll have in its ability to meet their needs-- 1:08 and the less likely they are to continue. 1:12 If your links or calls to action are weak or misleading, 1:15 users may never see what you have to offer. 1:19 Information Scent can be illustrated quite well on your favorite search engine. 1:22 Try out a search for a term that's important to you. 1:26 If you've been using search engines for a while, 1:30 you'll know by now that if you want a better--more relevant--set of search results, 1:32 you need to use more descriptive and specific terms. 1:37 Those results will look accurate because they match your expectations, 1:40 illustrated by the information you entered in the search box. 1:45 So, it's no coincidence that one of the main strategies of SEO 1:49 involves the naming of links. 1:53 Links have SEO value because they're expected 1:55 to link to pages with information about that term. 1:58 This is the essence of Information Scent. 2:02 The label of each link should represent the content you find. 2:05 Now, looking back at our first group of links, 2:09 it's logical that people trying to book a flight to Chicago will search for exactly that. 2:12 But, as the links become more vague, the chances that users will search for that term 2:17 and find what they're looking for becomes less likely. 2:23 And you can guarantee that users looking to buy airline tickets-- 2:26 or anything else for that matter--are not going to search for "click here." 2:30 So, don't use that when naming your links. 2:34 But, don't forget, images are also used as links, 2:37 and Information Scent can be affected by the use of confusing pictures, 2:41 symbols, and other overly stylish alternatives to plain text. 2:46 Some icons have a universal meaning, 2:51 so it's important to provide content or features that match expectations. 2:54 Other symbols are not quite as universal. 2:58 So, if necessary, provide some context or clues to keep users from straying from the path. 3:01 Don't let there be any question about what your site provides on every page. 3:07 Be descriptive. 3:13 Each link should reflect the needs and expectations of your users-- 3:15 just as they should reflect the purpose and scope of your company. 3:19 Links should be labeled to provide clear signs, 3:24 especially if they lead to spots where conversions will happen, 3:27 such as purchases, sign-ups, and downloads. 3:30 Provide clear paths for your users, 3:32 and the chances are much better they'll become customers. 3:34
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