Not only is it the law, it’s good etiquette.
Inclusivity is a big focus for websites these days, and we’re here to tell you that you can improve accessibility through internal linking.
It’s something important to keep in mind, regardless of what purpose your website has.
Here at Team WILO we like to prioritise inclusion, and we’re happy to help you and guide your site to become as successful as it can.
Understanding Web Accessibility
What is it?
Web accessibility refers to the practice of designing and developing websites and applications in a way that accommodates disabilities.
It makes sure all people can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the content effectively.
This includes those with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.
Why Accessibility Matters
Accessibility is crucial because it promotes inclusivity and makes sure no one is left out of experiencing content.
It is not only a legal requirement in many jurisdictions but also a way to reach a broader audience and create a positive brand image.
The Role of Internal Linking in Accessibility
Internal linking is the practice of creating hyperlinks within your website’s content that point to other pages within one site.
It can make navigation easier for all users and contribute to a more accessible and user-friendly website.
Benefits of Internal Linking
Improved Navigation for All Users
- Helps users easily locate and access relevant content.
- Streamlines the user journey, reducing frustration and bounce rates.
- Supports users with cognitive impairments by providing clear pathways.
- Facilitates quicker access to essential information for all visitors.
- Improves the overall website usability, making it more user-friendly.
Enhancing User Experience
- Encourages users to explore your website further by guiding them to related topics.
- Promotes user engagement and longer time spent on your site.
- Creates a seamless and enjoyable browsing experience.
- Reduces user abandonment by presenting relevant content options.
- Enhances user satisfaction and encourages return visits.
Boosting SEO and Search Rankings
- Enhances search engine crawling and indexing of your website.
- Improves the visibility of your content in search results.
- Increases the chances of your website ranking higher for relevant keywords.
- Supports your SEO efforts by indicating content relevance through internal links.
- Contributes to a better overall SEO strategy by optimising site structure.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
- Helps ensure compliance with accessibility regulations and laws.
- Demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and equal access for all users.
- Mitigates the risk of legal actions or discrimination complaints.
- Enhances your organisation’s reputation as a socially responsible and accessible web presence.
- Aligns with ethical principles of providing equitable access to information.
Key Principles for Accessible Internal Linking
Use Descriptive Anchor Text
Choose anchor text that clearly describes the destination of the link.
Avoid vague phrases like “click here” and use text that gives context instead.
Consistency in Link Styling
Maintain a consistent style for your internal links throughout your website.
Consistency helps users recognise links and navigate your site more easily.
Proper HTML Markup
Make sure that your HTML markup for links is correct and follows the best practices.
This includes semantic HTML elements like <a> tags and providing alt attributes for linked images.
Avoiding Overuse of Links
While internal links are beneficial, excessive linking can overwhelm users and dilute the user experience.
Use internal links strategically and prioritise quality over quantity.
Implementing Accessible Internal Linking
Auditing Your Website
- Start by auditing your website to assess its current accessibility status.
- Numerous accessibility testing tools are available to help you identify issues and areas for improvement.
- Once you’ve identified accessibility gaps, determine where internal linking can be used to enhance navigation and improve experience.
Creating a Linking Strategy
- Develop a linking strategy that aligns with your website’s content hierarchy and user experience.
- Focus on creating clear pathways that cater to different user needs.
Monitoring and Maintaining
- Regularly monitor your site’s performance and user feedback.
- Make adjustments as needed to maintain accessibility and user satisfaction.
Best Practices for Internal Linking
1. Creating a Sitemap:
- A sitemap serves as a visual representation of your website’s structure, showcasing how different pages and sections are interconnected.
- It’s an invaluable tool for users with disabilities, as it gives an organised view of the content hierarchy.
- Include clear labels and headings to make it easy for users, especially those using assistive technologies, to understand your site layout.
- Use the sitemap to highlight critical sections for people with disabilities who require quick access to essential information.
- Regularly update the sitemap as your website evolves to ensure it accurately reflects your site’s structure and content organisation.
2. Prioritising Content Hierarchy:
- Content hierarchy is crucial for ensuring users can access the most important information quickly and efficiently.
- Begin by identifying the core content and pages that cater to common user needs.
- Strategically place internal links to these critical pages, making them easily accessible from various entry points on your website.
- Consider the needs of users with disabilities by ensuring that essential content is within easy reach and well-labelled.
- Regularly review and adjust your content hierarchy as user needs evolve or as you expand your website.
3. Using Natural Language:
- Natural language is essential for creating meaningful and user-friendly anchor text for internal links.
- Avoid using generic phrases like “click here” or “learn more,” as they provide little context about the linked content.
- Instead, use descriptive and concise language that tells users exactly what to expect when they click on a link.
- Incorporate keywords when relevant, but ensure they fit naturally within the sentence or paragraph.
- For example, instead of “Click here to read our accessibility guide,” use “Read our comprehensive accessibility guide.”
4. Providing Text Alternatives:
- Text alternatives are crucial for ensuring that users who cannot see or hear content can still access the information conveyed by linked images and media.
- When adding alt text, describe the content and function of the linked item concisely and clearly.
- Consider the needs of users with visual impairments or those who have disabled images or media in their browsers.
- For example, if you have an internal link on an image representing a product, the alt text should provide a brief description of the product and its relevance to the linked page.
- Regularly review and update alt text to maintain its accuracy and relevance, especially when content or linked images change.
How WILO Can Help: Internal Linking for Accessibility
Streamlining Internal Link Opportunities:
- WILO assists website owners and content creators in identifying internal linking opportunities.
- By enabling users to enter specific keywords, it searches the WordPress database for relevant content that can be linked to the current page.
- This feature can be particularly beneficial for users with disabilities who rely on efficient navigation.
- By having readily available internal links related to their current content of interest, these users can access information more conveniently.
Diverse Anchor Text:
- Our plugin WILO not only helps identify potential internal link targets but also displays the anchor text associated with existing internal links on the current page.
- It’s essential for accessibility because site users, including those with disabilities, often depend on screen readers that announce the anchor text of links.
- By providing a range of anchor text variations, WILO supports accessibility by ensuring that users can easily comprehend the purpose and destination of the links.
Enhanced On-Page SEO:
- Accessibility and search engine optimisation (SEO) go hand in hand.
- WILO contributes to improving on-page SEO by promoting the use of descriptive and relevant internal links.
- This practice aligns with accessibility principles, as it makes content more understandable and navigable for all users, including those who rely on assistive technologies.
- Clear and contextually relevant links enhance the overall user experience and are particularly beneficial to individuals with disabilities.
Efficient Content Organisation:
- For users with disabilities, having a well-organised website with clear pathways to related content is crucial.
- WILO helps in achieving this by suggesting internal links that connect content pieces logically.
- A structured approach enhances accessibility as it allows users to follow a logical flow of information, making it easier for them to comprehend and navigate the content.
Internal linking is a powerful tool for improving web accessibility.
By following the key principles and best practices, you can create a more inclusive and user-friendly website that benefits all users.
Embracing accessibility not only helps you meet legal and ethical obligations but also enhances your SEO efforts and builds a positive online reputation.
Take a look at WILO if you need any help; it’s worth it.