Web standards for links

These standards are mandatory for content published on the public website, microsites and Our Surrey.

Link text

  • Give a clear indication of where your link will lead. This helps visually impaired residents who use screen readers. Either use the title of the page you're linking to, or the task you expect them to do. For example, "Guildford park and ride service" or "Report a pothole".
  • Avoid generic phrases such as "click here", "here" and "read more".
  • Make your links concise but specific – three to six words is often a good length for a link. Do not link whole lines or multiple lines.
  • If two or more links lead to the same destination, the same link text should be used. For example, if you have multiple links to the 'Join your library' page, make sure the link text is exactly the same for each one.
  • If two or more links lead to different destinations, different link text should be used. For example if you have links to three bus timetables, don't use 'bus timetable' for each link. Instead make each one different; "Guildford bus timetable", "Woking bus timetable", "Frimley bus timetable".
  • Double-check your links work before making your page live.


Click here for more details about Guildford Museum's open day.


Guildford Museum's open day will be held on 24 October.


"Click here" gives no information about where the link will lead to.


Fill in our feedback form to comment on our services.


To comment on our services, fill in our feedback form.


W3C's Understanding Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Link purpose (In context) recommends putting the information before a link to enable visitors with screen readers to understand the purpose of the link before they come to it.


There are six leaflets available


There are six countryside walks leaflets available.


Expanding the link helps to make it more specific and informative.

Accessibility and usability

This standard is mandatory for accessibility and usability reasons.


Clear links help the visually impaired navigate our website better with screen readers and it helps everyone find the information they are looking for.

W3C has more information about link purpose (in context) including recommendations for link text and sentences containing links.


Links with meaningful link text make navigating through the website easy.

Use ID numbers for links to Matrix pages

Links to other pages and files hosted our public website and microsites (which use the Matrix content management system) must use asset IDs rather than URLs.

A page's asset ID can be found in the page's footer or by looking it up in Matrix.

Using the asset finder when setting up the link in Matrix will automatically use the asset ID and is the recommended method for setting up links. See the help pages within Matrix for more details.


This standard is mandatory for technical reasons. Using the asset ID for the link will prevent the link breaking if the destination page is moved or renamed.

Links to 'child' pages

Make sure you link to all child (sub) pages in the 'In this section' links or in the body text of the parent (category) page.

  • Category pages automatically list the pages that are located beneath them (the child pages) in the 'In this section' list. If you turn off this automatic listing (for example, to rearrange the order of the list under different headings and/or to add links to pages in other categories to the list) then you must make sure that you still include links to all of the published child pages in the body text (content area) of the page.
  • There are many reasons why you should not create a page under one category and then link it from a different one:
    1. The page will have the wrong crumbtrail (navigation links at the top of the page).
    2. Webmasters may withdraw the page because they may believe it is an orphan page which is not allowed.
    3. Anyone else maintaining your area of the website may not understand where the page is linked in.
    4. The link could be removed from the other page, meaning your page cannot be found by search engines or read by anyone.
    5. It causes problems with the information architecture of the website that is designed to categorise pages within their own subject area.
  • See also links should only link to related pages in other categories on the website and not be used for child pages.
  • Always consult Web and Digital Services about any changes to the structure (information architecture - IA) of your website category.

The category called 'Fruit' has three pages published in it; 'Apples', 'Bananas' and 'Cherries'.

The Fruit page must link to all three pages (even if other pages link to them as well) in the main content area of the page either under 'In this section' or in the text of the page.

Technical and usability

This standard is mandatory for usability reasons.


The Surrey County Council search engine and external search engines crawl down links to find pages, so if a page is not linked in to the website, it can't be found and will not appear in search results.


Visitors should be able to follow the crumbtrail to move up the site structure (from a child page to a parent page) then they should also be able to move back down the structure by following links on the page.

If you don't link to all of the child pages from the page immediately above, it makes navigating through the site more difficult.

By keeping In this section for child pages and See also for pages in other categories, we create clear navigation paths so that the user will know what to expect and will complete a successful user journey.

Links to external websites

Make sure external links meet our criteria (below). Do not add links to third party discussion areas and forums.

When linking to an external website, mention in the text either immediately before or after the link the name of the website. For example, BBC's Online learning resources page, or Online learning resources on the BBC website.

This makes it absolutely clear that the destination is an external website.

  • Do not link to websites with illegal or offensive content.
  • Do not link to websites with an unmoderated forum or chat room (if comments are not checked before going public, they may contain unsuitable material).
  • All links should be to a https address.
  • Be careful about promoting a particular product or company as it may lead to complaints of unfairness from other similar companies. If you add a link to a particular company, you must be prepared to justify it. You must also be prepared to add links to similar companies if requested to do so, unless there is a valid reason not to.
  • Although Web and Digital Services regularly fix broken links, it is your responsibility as page author to ensure that all of the external links on your web page are still relevant when you review or republish your page. Web pages change unpredictably and URLs for withdrawn pages can be redirected to inappropriate content, so you must always check links.
  • Avoid linking only to the homepage of websites and instead link to the page or pages that are directly relevant to the information on your page. This makes sure visitors find the information you want them to read and saves them time having to find it themselves.

To maintain the council's reputation as a trusted service provider, we must ensure that we link to reputable websites with reliable information that is suitable for all.

When selecting websites to link to, we have an obligation to be responsible and fair, particularly as we receive many requests to link to other sites and it is not possible to link to them all.

Email addresses

Email addresses should be active links, to improve accessibility and usability.

To do this, simply make the email address a link, entering the same email address into the link field.

Accessibility and usability

This standard is mandatory for accessibility and usability reasons.

Broken links

There must not be any broken links on the page.

  • Before you publish a page, use the Preview button to view the draft of your web page in the browser and check that all of the links work.
  • When you review a page, check again that all of the links work. Unfortunately, websites change frequently and you can't rely on a link to still be working six months later.
  • Web and Digital Services regularly monitor the website for broken links using the Siteimprove link checker. However, as you own the page, you may be able to find a more appropriate link replacement, so if you do come across a broken link, you must fix it.
  • If there is no appropriate replacement for a broken link, you will need to reword the text and remove the link.
  • Sometimes websites go offline temporarily for maintenance, so if you find a broken link to a website that you believe is still current, contact the organisation who owns the site to find out how long it will be unavailable and if it is going to be more than a few days, you will need to remove the link and replace it at a later date when the site is working again.

Usability and good practice

This standard is mandatory for usability reasons.

Broken links are very frustrating for visitors. They cost us and visitors time and money if they have to contact us because they can't find the information that they are looking for.

Broken links also affect our accessibility rating. It is good practice to fix broken links as soon as they are found.

Did you find this information helpful?

Subscribe to our newsletters for latest news and events.