What You Need to Know About Web Accessibility and SEO
For years, Google has been putting a lot of emphasis on enhancing the user experience — spanning from improving the content quality, to using machine learning to provide more accurate search results, to focusing on the mobile experience and improving the on-page experience.
Despite all this, there is one usability factor that is almost always taken for granted by many web developers and designers: accessibility. In fact, it has been found that a whopping 98% of websites in the United States alone aren’t built with accessibility in mind.
Among the many reasons why this is often overlooked is that there’s a misconception that web accessibility is solely for disabled people. However, it’s so much more than that, which we will discuss more later.
As a brand, it’s important to make your content accessible, not only for the benefit of your readers but also for the benefit of your SEO efforts.
What Is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility is the practice of ensuring that there are no barriers to a user’s interaction with a website. It ensures that all users are able to navigate, perceive, and understand a website with ease, encompassing all disabilities that may affect how a person interacts with your site.
All-encompassing means that web accessibility does not only apply to people with visual, motor, auditory, and cognitive disabilities — it also applies to temporary impairments, such as:
- Acute impairment: For example, users who are recovering from surgery or a broken dominant hand.
- Environmental impairment: For example, users who are not able to play audio out loud or are in a brightly lit room.
- Situational impairment: For example, users with limited internet connection.
From a marketing standpoint, having an accessible website means all your marketing messages are delivered to every kind of audience, and it goes without saying that your business website is a powerful marketing tool.
The Value of Web Accessibility to Your Brand
1. Overlap between SEO and accessibility
Google has long promoted that website accessibility and usability go hand-in-hand together, and this overlap is all the more underscored with the recent rollout of their Core Web Vitals algorithm.
Certain on-page SEO factors are also considered as web accessibility features: image ALT texts, sitemaps and/or breadcrumb links, navigation tabs/menus, header tags, and anchor texts.
2. Enhances user experience
Optimizing the accessibility of your website to all kinds of users means that you’re optimizing the usability of your website, ultimately enhancing the overall user experience.
A well-optimized, usable, and accessible website also increases customer satisfaction and sends a strong message to your audience that you value them and are committed to offering them the best experience with your brand.
3. Expands your reach
According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population is disabled. Factor in the transient number of people who experience temporary impairments as we discussed earlier, which amplifies the number of people who need web accessibility the most.
What this means is that when your brand is digitally inclusive, you can target a highly valuable market segment you wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. Web accessibility benefits everyone, and by optimizing your website, you expand your reach and increase the number of your prospects/leads.
4. Legal implications
Web accessibility is also required by law in some countries. Some of these laws include the European Accessibility Act, the UK Equality Act, and the Americans Disability Act (ADA). In a nutshell, these laws require digital “products and services” such as websites — among many others — to:
- Be compatible with assistive technologies
- Present content in a format appropriate to all users
- Be non-discriminatory to persons with disabilities — inaccessible website components are seen as discriminatory
In fact, there are already a number of websites that have been sued over web accessibility issues, such as Nike and Amazon for being inaccessible to visually impaired users.
Checklist: 5+ Web Accessibility Factors to Include
1. On-page SEO elements:
Applying website meta tags, Image ALT texts, hierarchical header tags, and relative anchor texts
2. Navigational elements:
Using sitemaps, breadcrumb links, and intuitive navigation tabs/menus
3. Language elements:
Supporting multilingual SEO and text-to-speech output, as well as optimizing for voice search SEO (i.e., using long-tail keywords and implementing schema markups),
4. Visual elements:
Enabling color contrast and audio and video transcriptions and/or closed captions. Supporting screen readers and other assistive technologies
5. Internet accessibility elements:
Enabling caching and website content to be available offline, minimizing data usage, and using HTML framework to simplify the technical structure
How to Assess Web Accessibility
Here are some tools you can use to assess and measure whether your website is accessible:
- Google Lighthouse – measuring accessibility as well as overall website performance
- PageSpeed Insights – reviewing scores for Core Web Vitals metrics
- Manual accessibility audits – human-conducted audits by Deque, spanning from a detailed accessibility assessment, verification testing, to design audits.
- Web content accessibility guidelines – manually check whether your website is compliant with W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) international standard. W3C also has a list of accessibility evaluation tools.
Refine Your SEO and Web Design
Website accessibility ensures that your website is accessible and usable for everyone. Whether or not it has a huge impact on your SEO rankings, it’s still important to include it in your SEO strategy and your web design.
At Ilfusion, we make sure that every aspect of your website is well-strategized and molded to your brand’s unique needs. If you need help with refining your SEO, web design, and overall marketing strategy, we’re here for you.
Call us at 888-420-5115, or email us at [email protected] to get started.Tags: search engine optimization, UI/UX, user experience, web accessibility
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