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accesskey, accessibility, and anchor text

three A's one question

     
11:00 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Some time ago, I read about setting up access keys to provide enhanced accessibility for users (sounds good in theory--I'm not sure any of my readers use it though).

So I modified my internal anchors pointing at my top-level category pages to
a) have an accesskey attribute
b) have a title attribute that clarified their purpose
c) have an underlined letter that visually indicates the accesskey for the anchor.

Now, I'm pretty comfortable that a) and b) are google-neutral decisions, but I'm starting to worry that I shot myself in the foot with c) as far as anchor text (I've heard some people think it's important ;) ).

To illustrate, if I had a widget page at my top level, it would be linked thusly from all my pages:

<a href="/widgets.php" title="wonderful, wacky widgets with white wings" accesskey="w"><u>w</u>idgets</a>

Would I be better off (anchor text-wise) removing the underline? (I suspect I know the answer here, but I would like to hear your opinions, thank you all in advance.)

10:02 am on Nov 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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linear wrote

<a href="/widgets.php" title="wonderful, wacky widgets with white wings" accesskey="w"><u>w</u>idgets</a>

Would I be better off (anchor text-wise) removing the underline? (I suspect I know the answer here, but I would like to hear your opinions, thank you all in advance.)

hi linear.
I have one site where the site name was styled with the first letter emboldened and the rest plain, using <b> round the first letter.

That presentation of the name was in several places on the home page, as was just the name without the embolding.
When I looked in the cache at the page, google didn't colour the emboldened presentation, but did colour the plain ones.

This shows that your "<u>w</u>idgets" isn't going to be a hit for widgets.

Using CSS instead of HTML doesn't cure the problem.

I toyed with the idea of using the CSS "first-letter" instead, so that I could put a class on the *whole* phrase (which would work), but the support for that in a lot of browsers is currently non-existent.

DerekH

11:05 am on Nov 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Instead of underlining the accesskey you could always use:

<a href="..." title="Accesskey=X">Link</a>

A number of sites use this tactic.

Cheers,
Nigel

1:58 pm on Nov 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thank you DerekH and Nigel. I pretty much had arrived at the conclusion that the formatting had to go, and I've removed it already. I appreciate the specific account of your experiences, and the suggestion for an alternative as well.

In my enthusiasm to allow for accessibility, I shot myself in the foot SEO-wise. The exit wound is healing nicely though.

 

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