Kick ‘Click Here’ to the Curb: How to Write Accessible Links

Web Accessibility Knowledgebase

Here are the basics of why accessible web links are important and how to write them correctly.

accessiBe Team

To make your article or email accessible, the web links you include must be written in a way that people with disabilities can access. Accessible links ensure that people using a screen reader, voice recognition software, or a click stick, can understand your link and effectively land where you intend them to. Here are the basics of why accessible links are important and how to write them correctly.

The benefits of accessible links go beyond accessibility compliance requirements. For starters, accessible links allow you to include a segment of the disability population largely excluded online. Creating accessible web links for people using assistive technology can broaden your audience reach and help you tap into a larger market.

Next, since clear and descriptive link text enhances the overall user experience for all website visitors, user frustration can be reduced for everyone, resulting in higher engagement and improved UX. 

Finally, accessible links optimize your search engine optimization (SEO) performance. Descriptive link text provides valuable context for search engine crawlers, improving the visibility and ranking of your website’s pages in search results.

Make the text count

The clickable text that leads to your link is called “anchor text” and should be clear and descriptive. This text serves as the auditory prompt for people using screen readers and should convey the purpose and destination of each link.

Use language that indicates the content or action associated with your web link in progress, and avoid generic anchor text like "click here" or "read more.” Phrases like these lack context and don’t indicate where the link leads. Instead, be descriptive and specific:

Instead of writing “Click here to contact us to learn more about accessibility” for your call to action (CTA), write “Contact Us.”

Aaron Espinoza from the American Council for the Blind Next Generation shares that he prefers hyperlinked text rather than a separate CTA at the end of text. While other users who are blind said they prefer a link after the text. Since there is no “right way,” the important thing is to make sure the link is clear and descriptive.

Use keywords

Incorporating relevant keywords or phrases into your anchor text is critical for creating accessible and user-friendly links. When someone understands the purpose of a link upfront, they are more likely to click on it to access additional information or resources. Placing relevant keywords into link text has a hand in improving the visibility of your website in search engine results. Engines use link text to understand the context and relevance of linked content, so using descriptive keywords can optimize your website's SEO performance.

For example, if your link leads to an article about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), make sure “ADA” is in your anchor text.

Keep it concise

Keep your anchor text as concise as possible, without sacrificing clarity. Anchor text that is too long can be overwhelming for anyone, especially someone using assistive technology. Excessive text can lead to cognitive overload and make it difficult for people to distinguish relevant information.

Use proper formatting

Consistency in formatting link text is essential for ensuring accessibility and usability on a website. When people encounter a link, they should be able to recognize it as such immediately and understand that it is clickable. You can achieve consistency in formatting link text by:

  • Using Underline or Color Changes: Format link text consistently by using visual cues such as underlining or color changes to distinguish links from regular text. This makes it easy for people to identify clickable elements and understand their interactive nature. For example, you can underline all links or change their color to be different from the surrounding text.
  • Ensuring Adequate Clickable Areas: Make sure that clickable areas are sufficiently sized to facilitate easy interaction, especially for people with mobility disabilities or those accessing the website on touchscreen devices. Ideally, clickable areas should be large enough to accommodate a person’s fingers or pointing devices without requiring precise accuracy. This helps prevent accidental clicks and improves the overall usability of your website.

Don’t forget to test

Make sure you scroll through each web page to make sure your links are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. You can do this yourself, and to make sure the rest of your website is accessible you can use tools like an accessibility audit. For a deeper dive, you also might to get a manual inspection by an expert, and have user testing done by someone using assistive technology. 

Embracing these accessible link best practices not only promotes equal access to your information and services but also enhances the user experience for everyone reading your content. So, what are you waiting for? Get linking!