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Accessibility rule: Skip to main content link is missing, explained

Modified on: Fri, 3 Feb, 2023 at 12:05 PM

Skip links provide users with a way to bypass repeated content on pages. Siteimprove checks, if a skip link is present.

Who is impacted by this barrier?

Without a way to bypass repeated content, such as the top menu, assistive technology users and keyboard users would need to navigate through the same repeated content on every single page. When the skip link is present, users are able to jump directly to the main content of the page. Read more about skip links and their impact on accessibility here.

How does the check work?

For the check to pass the skip link needs to be the first focusable element. Sometimes, there is a cookie banner as the first focusable element instead, which may throw the check off. In that case, you can contact support to configure the cookie banner to be bypassed by the crawler.


  1. This check accounts for skip links only. Technically, to pass the WCAG requirement of bypassing blocks, you can also use, for instance, a button element, which this check does not account for. 
  2. Another valid WCAG technique, where "skip to main content" does not necessarily need to be the first focusable element is when there are multiple skip links to each section of the page. 

While the before-mentioned cases pass WCAG as well, having a skip link as the first focusable element is the method used most to bypass repeated blocks of content. Therefore, this check is labeled as a best practice check. 

You can read more about the SIA-R87 rule in Alfa, Siteimprove’s open source accessibility conformance testing engine.

How do I check if the skip to main content link is present?

If Siteimprove is not able to detect automatically if the skip to content link is the first focusable element, the system will flag this as a potential issue.
 Take the following steps to validate, if the skip link is the first focusable element and works as intended:

  1. Go to the web page 
  2. Click the tabulator key
  3. Is the first focusable element the skip to the main content link?
    For example, the skip link looks like this: A screenshot from the Siteimprove website showing a "Skip to main content" link highlighted at the top of the page.
  4. Click ‘Enter’ to activate the link
  5. Make sure the focus moves to the main content

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