What in the Heck is “Secondary Link Feedback”?! (And how can it help you sell more?)

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links-fire.jpgLast week I shared some usability related split test results with you, showing the critical importance “link appearance” has on response rates.

The results of our link appearance tests were clear… Blue and underlined links convert the best.

However… I didn’t share the data for ALL of the link variations I tested during that campaign.

In addition to the “link appearance” test, I conducted several “link behavior” tests.

Link behavior simply refers to how links “behave” when the mouse hovers over them.

Two terms I coined a while back to describe link behavior are:

“Primary Link Feedback” and “Secondary Link Feedback”.

“Primary Link Feedback” is the mouse cursor changing from an “arrow” to a “pointing finger” when the mouse hovers over a link or clickable button.


“Secondary Link Feedback” occurs when there is ANY secondary indication that a link or button is clickable. This feedback can be a change in font color, highlighting the link text, a roll-over image for a button or any other indication that this element is “clickable”.


In most cases my testing has shown that the more feedback you give a visitor that a certain link, button or other navigational element is “clickable”, the higher the click through rate you will receive for that navigational element.

Here are the results from one of my “link behavior” tests:

Blue, underlined, no primary or secondary link feedback. ““ 29.6% CTR

Blue, underlined, only primary link feedback. ““ 36.3% CTR

Blue, underlined, primary AND secondary link feedback (font color change to red). ““ 39.7% CTR

Blue, underlined, primary AND “double” secondary link feedback (font color change to red AND text highlighted with yellow). ““ 42.2% CTR

As you can see, in this particular test the “double” secondary link feedback version (which personally I thought was a bit ugly and tacky from a design standpoint) converted the best.

Keep in mind… You DON’T have to use yellow as the highlight color. Yellow is simply the color we used in this particular test. I’ve tested many other highlight colors for secondary link feedback and found that often the best results come from using a highlight color that is complimentary to your existing color scheme.

So, if you are going to use “double secondary link feedback”, be sure and test several different background colors for the highlighting of your text.

Also, make sure you have sufficient contrast between the “highlight” background color and your font colors.

One disclaimer about these results… While providing secondary link feedback has improved click through rates in nearly every test I’ve conducted, highlighting the link text (“double” secondary link feedback) has NOT improved CTR or conversions 100% of the time. So this needs to be tested for your particular site/niche.

Stay tuned… In a few days I’ll be sharing the last part of this particular usability split test results series, with the results of a “submit button” split test. The results of that one might just have you changing the way you setup the buttons on YOUR sites!

Happy Testing!


About the Author

Eric Graham is a serial entrepreneur, author, speaker, copywriter and consultant. Enter your name and email address below to get notified when new response boosting tips, tested conversion strategies, updates, articles and videos are posted.

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