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Writing accessible link text

Read More, Click Here, Learn More!

As a developer, I have seen these phrases and other “Calls to Action” thousands of times in web designs and content that I have been asked to post.

I struggle with this myself sometimes. I will write a blog with some resources to link. I will carefully choose and edit my words for the content of the blog. I then go to post my blog, and the debate of where to add the links begins.

Two questions I ask myself:

  • Is there a phrase that I already wrote that would make sense when read by someone actually reading that I can link to?
  • Do I know where these links go if I am skimming the page?

Sometimes this causes me to rewrite parts of my blog. I try to keep the wording as natural as possible. I don’t think making accessible link text means that you have to sacrifice your content's quality. Links need to make sense in and out of the context of the page. Someone skimming a page should know what the link is for without seeing the rest of the page.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this isn’t just for people who are using screen readers. This means that you are writing content that is better for people with limited time, AND it will mean better search ranking for the content on that page.

Links in content to reputable sources help your content gain SEO. The context of the link also counts toward better ranking. Choosing words to link that match what you are trying to optimize around will give you more credibility with search engines. Don’t try to bloat your links with words to try to game the system, though! You will be rewarded by creating good content that people want to read.

This article by Moz highlights best practices for increasing SEO through Anchor Text. Note: Anchor text is what I have been referring to as Link Text.

Creating good link text is really worth the extra review and time because it could mean more exposure for your content. And isn’t that why we are putting the content out there?

Some additional rules of thumbs to keep in mind:

  • Never actually print out the URL in the link text. Screen readers will read each letter of the URL out if you do this. This would create a tedious experience for people using screen readers.
  • Keep the link text short and sweet. But do make sure the link can stand on its own.
  • If you’re linking to something that isn’t a webpage (i.e., doc, pdf, ppt), let the visitor know in the link text.

Penny Kronz, CPACC
VP of DubBot Client Services
~ accessibility specialist, web developer, mom