Search engines seek the best results for their users, and the more accessible a site is, the more engagement it will garnish. Therefore, the accessibility of a website and its ease of use help it rank higher than ones with fewer features.
Think of it from a practical standpoint. A person with a disability would prefer to go to the site that better suits their needs.
First Things First: The Concepts of Accessibility and SEO
Search Engine Optimization, more commonly called SEO, is about getting organic traffic to your website. The goal is to improve your website’s ranking in search results pages. The higher the web page is ranked, the more visible it will be.
SEO involves many different aspects, including finding relevant keywords. It also revolves around creating high-quality content and optimizing it for search engines and search engine crawlers, and incorporating links from high-quality websites. SEO is a crucial marketing tactic for many companies.
Web accessibility is about the ease with which disabled users can navigate a website. The website aims to gain as much traffic, so allowing everyone access helps ensure the best results possible.
Web accessibility means that tools and technology designed for these websites are developed to allow access to people with disabilities.
Does Accessibility Affect SEO?
There are many factors that affect a site’s ranking. Being able to access content on a site easily is one of them. It is believed that web accessibility and SEO go hand in hand.
Although this is not new to the writing community, it has been somewhat of a discussion for quite some time now. Everyone has their input to the argument, depending on who you ask.
Some will argue there’s no hard evidence to suggest having an accessible website will make a difference. Others will say that making your web pages more accessible is a must for traffic purposes. No matter how you look at this, it’s one conversation that stirs up debates anytime it’s brought up.
How Do I Make My Website Accessible?
There is no correct answer regarding making a website more accessible for users, Google search, and search engine crawlers. Each user will go about it differently, but all sites will follow the same principles.
Following these practices will bring a better balance to your site. Here is a list of some techniques to implement into your web content accessibility guidelines:
- Optimize the Page Titles
- Choose a Descriptive Anchor Text
- Use Headings
- Include ALT Text
- Add Breadcrumbs
- Define a Clear Web Navigation
- Improve Your Web Page Readability
Does Google Rank Based on Accessibility?
One of the most vital parts of web accessibility is consistency. Stability in web design helps all users but is exceptionally crucial for some people with disabilities as well. A consistent website makes it easy for anyone to navigate easily and find the necessary information.
Google also focuses more on acknowledging sites equipped with a good user experience. Mobile-friendliness is a crucial element of web accessibility. Making the user experience better and more widely accessible helps increase brand sentiment.
How Does Web Accessibility Affect SEO?
Search engines also prioritize consistency. This is in terms of content signals, such as keyword usage, and user experience signals, such as how fast the site’s load speeds are.
Digital accessibility promotes an integrated approach that inspires developers to look at the entirety of the website, not just a single page’s performance. As you prioritize accessible web design, you’ll get stronger search engine rankings on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
How are Web Accessibility and SEO Related?
Website owners often discuss ways to implement SEO and web accessibility practices into their pages. What if you were told that if you comply with web accessibility guidelines, your SEO strategy will improve?
Considering both procedures overlap, it is hard not to see them as closely related. Here are a few of the ways that web content accessibility guidelines and SEO are related:
Metadata generally refers to meta titles and meta descriptions. Meta titles are an HTML tag you can add on your website that is reflected on the blue text displayed on the result pages. These titles indicate the topic of a webpage.
Meta descriptions also refer to an HTML tag, but they reflect on the text below the link that appears on the results page. Screen readers will look over the metadata and relay it to users who are deaf or hard of hearing. In theory, this will convince them to enter your page.
Metadata, like the meta description, is not a direct factor in ranking but largely influences the CTR (clickthrough rate) of a page. It allows you to persuade users with unique selling points (USPs).
The search snippet is intended to present the user with a preview of the page’s content. This attempts to coax them to click on the search result. Many other forms of metadata provide additional opportunities to communicate with search engines. These include meta keywords, meta robots, canonical, and robot tags.
Readability is an essential characteristic of accessible websites. Content that makes it onto your site should be clearly readable.
Also, readability avoids complicated terminology, is to the point, and is at the proper reading level for the targeted user. It should also be grammatically correct and follow a logical structure.
Both readers and search engines prefer URLs and content that are clear and easy to understand. Minimizing an article’s complexity should always be considered when writing for a website.
Lists and Bullet Points
Integration of lists and bullet points into text is one element of readability that can provide a better experience for those using assistive technologies.
Detailed lists and bullet points help gather ideas in an easy-to-understand setup that anyone can use. There are occasions when lists and bullet-point content are preferred.
Featured portions of a result page can often be shown in list format. Assuming that most users quickly scroll web pages instead of reading them in their entirety, lists and bullet points are more compatible with how people view things on the internet.
Search engines try to predict which content is best for users, so lists and bullet points are great ways to indicate navigable content that best suits most individuals.
This can be associated with different parts of a website. Usually, this refers to the main navigation menu of the site.
When making your website accessible, your navigation menus must incorporate a few things. This includes relevant ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes, and being keyboard accessible so all users can access those pages.
Buttons and sitemaps need to be accessible as well. Your most important pages should be atop the navigation menu to ensure that the search engines receive accurate SEO signals.
This shows what pages on your website are the most important ones. Besides improving the user experience, this also helps search engine bots get to them with ease, guaranteeing they’re crawled and cached continually.
Anchor text is clickable content within an HTML link. As a screen reader scans a page, it will recognize the links within the code. It then will read out the anchor text to the user.
The screen reader notifies the guest that there is a link. It then reads the anchor text as the description of the link, allowing the user to know what to expect from the new page.
Anchor texts are necessary for many facets of SEO as well. From the user’s perspective, the anchor text is a good representation of what the linked page is about in relation to the current page. Anchor text is perfect for adding depth to a page.
These examples are just a few of how web accessibility and search engine optimization are related.
Does accessibility have an impact on SEO?
Accessibility will not have a negative influence on an article. It cannot damage an article, but that does not mean it is okay not to have proper user access.
When accessibility standards are implemented correctly, it positively impacts SEO. Ideally, accessibility and SEO will work well together.
Even in situations where mistakes are made, it is usually because of improper usage of tags or a misunderstanding of accessibility in general. For example, someone trying to force keywords into alt tags may find themselves being disciplined by the search engines.
Does poor website accessibility affect your rankings?
Google has a unique way of ranking websites. These rubrics help determine where a URL will fall on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Unfortunately, it is challenging to assess website accessibility. Thus, it is not a significant factor in the decision. Google does, however, indirectly use this in determining the ranking of a site.
While there may not be a direct link, there is likely an indirect one. Again, this comes down to user experience metrics.
So what exactly is the correlation? What should you expect as a website owner? If you can increase your organic traffic, you can get more creative with other marketing efforts and build a stronger brand.
Why is the accessibility of content an important factor in mobile SEO?
Today, people are more attached to their phones than ever. Accessibility of a page’s content is essential due to the audience you are trying to engage with.
It is all about ease of access for users. The structure of a website is crucial when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Making accessibility and SEO go hand in hand makes sense. Doing so allows all users access to your website’s content. A fully functional site will enable more users to access the site, leading to better SEO.
The structure of a site is a significant factor in SEO, so it’s hard not to consider accessibility and SEO together.
Why Are Accessibility and SEO Important For a Website?
An accessible website will help users seamlessly navigate the site to find the information they seek. It also enhances their web experience.
The popularity of accessible websites has grown over the past couple of years with the increase in web usage. With technology advancing, it is important to give access to as many users as possible.
Accessibility is also a factor in the loyalty that comes with user experience and satisfaction. When someone feels comfortable using a specific set of tools, they continue using them. People want a fully accessible platform to work with, but one that they are used to.
There are also several potential legal repercussions for inaccessible websites. Unfortunately, legal fees and fines may be the tip of the iceberg.
How Can You Make a Website Accessible and SEO-Friendly?
There are many tools to make your site more accessible and optimized for search. Here is a list of some common ways to do so:
Design Your Forms with Accessibility in Mind
When a form field is mislabeled, someone using a screen reader will not have the same cues available as a user who doesn’t need one. Not having the right cues makes it impossible to determine what type of content should be placed into a form field.You should have a well-positioned, descriptive label for each field in your form.
For example, the label should be marked appropriately if the field is for a user’s name. This can be accomplished by either using a label marked “Full Name” or having a pair of separate areas marked “First Name” and “Last Name.”
While navigating through a form field, you should be able to tab through the form, filling out everything before getting to the “Submit” button.
Use Correct Headings to Organize Content Structure
Screen reader users may use page titles and heading structures to review the content. The content of your website should be well put together with a proper strategy in mind that can be easily interpreted by screen readers.
Following the correct order of headings will give your work a better flow. Using headings to indicate and organize your content will allow screen readers to properly read the page to its users and avoid them getting confused by improper header placement.
Give Your Links Unique and Descriptive Names
Use proper text describing where the link goes when linking to your content. Simple words such as “click here” are not deemed descriptive and are rendered inefficient for a screen reader user. Just like sighted users scan the page for linked text, visually-impaired people can use their screen readers to check for links.
For this reason, screen reader users usually do not read the link within the context of the remainder of the page. Using proper descriptive text better explains the context of links to the user of the screen reader.
The unique content of the link should be introduced foremost since users will often go through the list of links by searching based on the first letter.
Ensure That All Content Can be Logically Accessed With the Keyboard Alone
Some users with mobility disabilities may not be able to employ a mouse or trackpad. These users solely access content through the service of a keyboard by pressing the tab and arrow keys.
There are alternative input devices, such as single-switch input or a mouth stick. As a result, the tab order should match the visual order, so keyboard-only users can logically navigate through site content.
In addition, lengthy pages with lots of content should be broken up with anchor links. These links allow keyboard-only users to skip to pertinent portions of the page without going through other content. “Skip to the main page” should be at the top of each page, so keyboard-only users can quickly get the main content.
Other Essential Considerations
The menus should be set up for pages with local menus and multiple levels and sub-items so that all items can be accessed with the keyboard. Don’t use characteristics that only trigger when a person hovers a mouse over an item because keyboard-only users and screen reader users won’t be able to activate them.
Alt text should be produced for images so that screen reader users can understand the images on the page. This is particularly important for informative images like infographics. When creating the alt text, the text should include the message you want that image to send.
If the image contains text, that text should also be included in the alt text. The exception is if an image is used solely for decorative purposes. In this case, the alt text can be left empty to Include proper alt text for important images.
If an image is the only content of a link, the user is not drawn away from the more significant content on the page. If an image is all that makes up a link and no alt text is given, the screen reader will read the file name instead.
Alt text can be combined with other optimization tools to make access to a site more feasible for users who need a helping hand. The end result gives users the accessibility they never had before.
Making your website accessible enables all conceivable users, including those with disabilities, to have a great user experience and easily access any information. In addition, combining accessibility with SEO allows users to maximize their online experience.
It is simple to implement web accessibility practices.The tools available are easy to use and great for guiding you through your task. It is more manageable than you may have thought.
Most accessibility best practices are taken care of when you optimize your website using various SEO on-page factors. Take a moment to see how this combination can help bring new traffic to your website with Accessibly.