Website Accessibility And SEO – Everything You Need To Know

  • October 14, 2020
  • SEO
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Imagine dreaming about going to your favorite restaurant. But when you get there, you’re unable to get inside because you have a condition that makes it impossible for you to climb the few steps in front of it.

That’s exactly how people with disabilities feel when they encounter a website that they cannot use.

Is your website one of them?

The power of the web is in its universality.

Access by everyone, regardless of disability, is an essential aspect.”

Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

Essentially, your website should work for all people, especially for those with disabilities.

There are over a billion people, about 15-20 percent of the world’s population, with disabilities. And that’s a considerable number of consumers who cannot access the information on your website or the products you are trying to sell. Therefore your business must be accessible to everyone using the internet.

What exactly is website accessibility?

Website accessibility is more than just a way to serve a larger customer base. It refers to making sites usable by everyone regardless of their ability, education, or technology.

An accessible website should be built around four core principles:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

This can help people with the following disabilities gain access to the web:

  • auditory
  • cognitive
  • neurological
  • physical
  • speech
  • visual

At the same time, it supports social inclusion of people who are:

  • older
  • live in rural areas
  • reside in developing countries

Should I be concerned about it?

Web accessibility rose to fame because of recent widely publicized scandals where users sued businesses for failing to provide them with a smooth UX. So yeah, you should ensure that your website is accessible. Moreover, Google is raising awareness of web accessibility standards by issuing official guidelines, helping develop better websites.

But even though web accessibility focuses on promoting access to those with disabilities, it can also benefit others who don’t have them. For instance, it’s also helpful for people:

  • using mobile phones, smartwatches, or devices with small screens, different input modes, etc.
  • have a slow internet connection
  • with altering capabilities related to aging
  • with temporary disabilities, e.g., broken arm, misplaced glasses
  • dealing with situational limitations, e.g., an environment where audios can’t be heard

Therefore, an accessible website is a way to extend your market reach, helping people interact and contribute to the web. More importantly, it can improve overall customer satisfaction and UX, enhance your SEO efforts, and boost organic search rankings.

Website Accessibility and SEO

SEO and accessibility align rather closely. In fact, in my opinion, the two fields significantly overlap. But you have to understand that optimizing for one doesn’t necessarily imply that you’ve optimized for the other. For instance, an SEO optimized page won’t necessarily means it’s accessible, and vice versa.

However, when done right, accessibility and SEO can both go hand in hand.

So why not consider killing two birds with one stone? Let’s take a closer look at ways you can go about doing this.

How to improve the accessibility of a website– and SEO

1. Focus on enhancing UX

One of the easiest ways to connect with customers is to give importance to their needs. And that means making navigation intuitive to enhance UX. Simple aspects like the ones listed below can significantly improve website experience:

  • Linking your logo to the homepage
  • The text should be easy to read
  • Pages should load quickly
  • Use responsive designs to improve the mobile experience

Web Accessibility Perks

Straightforward navigation is beneficial for those with cognitive impairments. The legible text makes it easier for users to read the content. Fast page loading times are great for people with average wifi access.

SEO Perks

Google has strict guidelines for SEO. And UX is a significant factor, not so much by itself, but as a combination of multiple aspects. Aesthetic design, internal linking, website loading speed, and mobile compatibility are just a few things that Google looks at.

2. Use appropriate title tags

Title tags are HTML elements that allow developers to assign a title to each web page. Their purpose is to give browsers a heads up on what the content on the page will be.

Title tags won’t be visible on the page itself. In fact, they show up in two places: on SERPs and the tab at the top of your browser.

appropriate title tags
authority hacker

Source: AuthorityHacker

Web Accessibility Perks

Title tags allow people to understand the content on a page. But people who use a screen reader will be able to differentiate the pages on a website.

SEO Perks

Title tags help match consumer search with web content. A tag with the right keyword can help organic traffic to the site. More importantly, one that accurately reflects on-page content can reduce bounce rates.

3. Create a proper structure

It’s essential to have a clear, logical site and page structure.

Your site structure should have:

  • The main menu present at the top of each page to offer straightforward navigation
  • Sitemaps to offer an outline of the content available on a website
  • Breadcrumbs at the top of the page’s content displaying all the previous pages that led to a certain page. Clicking on any of the breadcrumbs takes users back to a previous page.
Create a proper structure

Source: AmeriChoice

On the other hand, the page structure should use:

  • Meaningful subheadings
  • A clickable table of contents taking
stay warm and stylish

Web Accessibility Perks

A clear website and page structure allow visitors to navigate effortlessly and quickly locate the content they’re looking for.

SEO Perks

A proper site structure allows search bots to crawl and understand the site. Using the right target keywords in subheadings can improve ranking in SERPs. Moreover, “Jump to” links often found in search snippets are generated from the clickable table of contents. This can improve CTR as people land on pages that they are searching for.

4. Text organization matters

As part of your website’s design, you know the importance of establishing content hierarchy. The benefits of this are two-fold. It enhances readability as well as navigation. Consider the following guidelines:

  • Large, clear titles should be placed at the top of the page.
  • Header tags follow a logical sequence of the six levels of header tags, H1 to H6.
  • Important content appears first.
  • Headers accurately describe the content that appears below.
  • White spaces are used adequately so that content is easy to consume.
header tag
headings

Web Accessibility Perks

Clear headers allow people to scan content and decide which section to read. It’s especially beneficial for individuals with limited reading comprehension capabilities and those using a screen reader.

SEO Perks

Matching search intent is a crucial aspect of SEO. A good header structure can, therefore, make it easier for Google to crawl through content and find answers. This gives your website the opportunity to appear as a featured snippet. For instance, a search for Google Adwords metrics displayed in the snippets is the H2 tags listed on Databox’s page.

SEO Perks

5. Enhance readability

Content needs to be read easily. This can include the size and color of the font. However, content should also be broken down into easily consumable sections.

More importantly, the copy should be written using simple words so that readers can comprehend the message you are trying to convey.

Writing is often based on the Flesch-Kinkaid grade level. When targeting the general public, aim for a reading score equivalent to the US 9th grade level.

Enhance readability

Simple ways to boost readability is to :

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Utilize simple terms that offer an exact meaning
  • Define professional jargon

Web Accessibility Perks

Selecting a writing style that aligns with the general audience allows more people to consume and understand the content.

SEO Perks

Google prefers concise, easy-to-understand content. Not only does this facilitate answers featuring in snippets, but it’s also paving the way for voice search capabilities.

6. Use descriptive Alt Text

Almost 50% of searches will be based on voice or image by 2020. That’s why you’ll notice a lot of attention on visual content. Sometimes pictures don’t load properly. You may see a written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage. This is the alt text. They need to describe the image yet be specific. So instead of merely using ‘pancakes,’ ‘stack of blueberry pancakes with powdered sugar’ is a better alt text.

descriptive Alt Text

Web Accessibility Perks

Alt text enhances usability, making it an ideal way to present non-text content. As a text alternative, it accurately describes images to those who are visually impaired or use assistive technologies.

SEO Perks

Alt texts signal that there is visual content available. So that’s an excellent way to improve rankings from the get-go. But it’s also a great way to enhance technical SEO. Moreover, alt texts support the image search. Using keyword-optimized alt-text is another way of promoting content on your website.

7. Use video transcriptions

Just like alt texts promote images, video transcripts can help videos get indexed. In fact, it’s standard procedure to place a transcript below a video that’s the core content of a particular page, especially if the video describes a process or is an interview.

Additionally, a YouTube video description allows Google and users to find videos more easily.

Web Accessibility Perks

A transcript makes videos more accessible to people who:

  • Visual or hearing impairments
  • Have medical conditions that make it challenging to consume video content
  • Seated in a loud environment and don’t have headphones
  • Don’t have access to high-speed Wi-Fi

SEO Benefits

By 2020, people will spend up to 82% of their time watching videos. But search engines don’t listen to video content. A transcription helps provide a reference of what it’s all about.

8. Anchor texts are essential

The clickable texts are a common sight on websites. They improve UX by offering links to sites that can provide additional information.

Anchor texts

Web Accessibility Perks

Anchor texts simplify online navigation. A mere click guides readers to another place where they can find more relevant information.

SEO Benefits

Google looks at quality links, both internal and external. Therefore anchor texts help Google learn more about the content on the site.

Want to find out just how accessible your website is? Use this DIY website accessibility checker to test your website’s accessibility, WCAG, and ADA compliance level.

Accessibility and SEO are entwined

Focusing on accessibility and SEO simultaneously appears to be a win-win situation. It’ll make your site easier to navigate and understand for both users and Google. Tell us about your efforts in boosting Web Accessibility in the comments section below.

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