As online platforms continue to prioritise inclusivity, it is imperative to align internal linking strategies with accessibility best practices, as doing so plays a pivotal role in enhancing user experience and improving accessibility. Some of these factors are also closely aligned with improving the SEO performance of a website.
In this article we have listed 10 key internal linking practices that contribute to a more accessible web, as follows:
Descriptive Anchor Texts: Craft anchor texts that provide a clear and concise preview of the linked content. This assists screen readers in conveying accurate information to users with visual impairments by describing what the link is leading to, and this content should also be focused around good SEO keyword content related to the target page.
Logical Link Structures: Organise internal links in a logical and hierarchical manner. This not only aids in navigation for all users but is particularly helpful for those relying on screen readers to interpret content flow. Such a structure is also the best way to enable search engines to find and understand the relationship of content pages.
Avoid Too Many Links: Only include links in the body text that add value to the existing page and enable users to find out more, or related, information on other pages. Too many links can break up the content and make it harder to read, so focus on the ones that really provide value to the user, and for SEO purposes.
Consistent Link Styling: Maintain consistency in link styling throughout your website. Predictable link formats assist users in recognising and understanding interactive elements, promoting a seamless browsing experience. It’s also best to format and indicate links to another domain in a new browser tab, but internal links should remain in the same tab.
Colour Contrast Considerations: Ensure sufficient colour contrast between the text and background of the links. This makes it obvious to all users where there are links, as well as aiding users with visual impairments plus benefiting those accessing content in various lighting conditions.
Accessible Link Targets: Use clear and descriptive link targets to avoid confusion. This is particularly important for users navigating websites using screen readers, as it provides context about the linked destination.
Use Breadcrumb Navigation: Static links on pages within the site structure are valuable for all users to know where they are in the navigation structure, particularly if they land on an internal page from search or other sources. Essential for ecommerce sites but good for any website, these links are also valuable for screen reader users.
Link Consistency Across Devices: Maintain consistent internal linking structures across various devices. This ensures a uniform user experience, irrespective of the device or assistive technology being used.
Fix 404 Errors: Error pages can be frustrating for all users and indicate poor management of the site where broken links have not been picked up. Google provides information on 404 errors in Search Console and these can also be tracked in Google Analytics if there are custom 404 pages in place. Check any common 404s and fix them with 301 redirects to the correct page where necessary.
Regular Accessibility Audits: Conduct regular accessibility audits to identify and address any potential issues. This proactive approach ensures that internal linking strategies remain aligned with evolving accessibility standards.
By implementing these internal linking best practices, we not only enhance the accessibility of our digital content but also contribute to a more inclusive online environment where everyone can navigate and engage with ease.
You can read more detail about internal linking best practices from the original Search Engine Land article.
If you want to know more about how creating user-friendly websites for people with disabilities can help your business please get in touch.