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SEO and Web Accessibility Come Hand in Hand

Note : If you like this post also read on Web Accessibility and SEO Tools

Web accessibility can be defined as:

an approach to web design that aims to ensure the widest access to the content and features of a website. The term is often used to refer to accessibility for people with disabilities, particularly blindness. (source)

However accessibility is also about making Web content more available to all users:

whatever user agent they are using (e.g., desktop browser, voice browser, mobile phone, automobile-based personal computer, etc.) or constraints they may be operating under (e.g., noisy surroundings, under- or over-illuminated rooms, in a hands-free environment, etc.).

While we (surprisingly) seldom see accessibility issues discussed in SEO community, search engine optimizers should definitely both explore and implement accessibility standards:

  • By enhancing the site accessibility for (disabled) people, you are also making the page easier accessed be search crawlers;
  • By implementing available tools to evaluate website accessibility, you will also find weak points of a site (from SEO perspective);
  • By implementing accessibility standards, you put an end to questionable SEO issues.

Steps to enhance accessibility (source: W3 accessibility guidelines):

  • Mind your images:
    • Include descriptive alternative text and title for content-sensitive images (i.e. those that are integral part of the page content): alt text is what blind people will hear in place of the image. [SEO: alt text is viewed as part of search crawlable content].
    • Don’t use alt text for decorative images (i.e. those that are meant to merely decorate the page). Assign an alt text to null value (alt=””) so that the image could be completely ignored by screenreaders [SEO: if images are purely for decorative purposes, alt text should probably be skipped] .
  • Make sure your website provides written transcripts for all audio and video content – so that deaf people could understand what it says [SEO: written text is the best way to get search crawlers understand webpage content].
  • Mind your hyperlinks:
    • Make sure link anchor text makes sense out of context: blind Internet users often browse web sites by tabbing from one link to the next; thus if your site is full of “click here” and “this site” links, they won’t understand anything [SEO: this should put an end to an ever-lasting discussion if keywords should be included in external link anchor text: just make link text descriptive and useful].
    • Add “title=” attribute to links especially for non-descriptive anchor text [SEO: if you can’t do without meaningless link text, link title tag is your best bet to explain both search engines and people what the linked page is about].
  • Mark up documents with the proper structural elements :
    • use markup rather than images to convey information [SEO: again, nothing is easier accessed by search robots than pure text];
    • use heading elements to convey document structure [SEO: H1-H6 headings are used by search crawlers to understand page HTML semantic structure and its main topic].
  • Make sure the page content is clear with JavaScript and CSS disabled [SEO: any browser-enhanced functionality can cause problems for a search bot to access it].
  • Language:
    • indicate language used either through mark-up (with the “lang” attribute in HTML and the “xml:lang” attribute in XML) or HTTP headers [SEO: this will also help you avoid any language related issues: see the discussion];
    • provide explanations of abbreviations and acronyms [SEO: this will improve your chances to appear within define: search results and enrich your content].
Category SEO
Ann Smarty Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas

Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann’s expertise in blogging and tools serve as ...

SEO and Web Accessibility Come Hand in Hand

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