WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Skip links and SEO


From: MP
Date: May 2, 2007 8:30AM

Hi all,

I've been discussing with some colleagues lately SEO and accessibility.
Usually, I consider that SEO and accessibility to go hand and hand - make
your content accessible to people with disabilities, and surely a robot
machine at Google can read it too.

However, a colleague of mine had been to an SEO conference, where she was
told flat out that you should never ever hide text, otherwise it will hurt
your Google rankings. The way she said the guy said it, it sounded like a
cardinal rule/mantra. At first, it made sense to me (remember all that white
on white text, hiding extra keywords, etc). But then I also thought back to
something as simple as a "Skip to Content" which can be hidden from a
standard web browser in any host of ways.

I tried to get a definitive answer on this toic, but no luck. The Matt
Cutt's blog (http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/) talks a lot about hidden links
and how malicious they are, and how Google will cut you down if you use
them, but he never answers the particular question about when things are
hidden for accessibility's sake (although he's asked all the time in the
comments). There's lots of speculation, and discussion as to whether skip
links should be hidden/used at all, but what I really want to know is what
of the consequence of using them now for SEO. It seems that Google lowering
your rankings because you use what may be considered one of the most
standard items on an accessible site seems just a little bit crazy.

Before I send out a memo that says "stop using skip links," I'd like to get
some different takes on it. It seems that nowadays, if someone at Google
says jump, web designers all how high.