Why SEO and accessibility go hand in hand
In 2021, website accessibility and digital inclusion aren’t things you can ignore. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated reliance on technology across the board. More people are working and shopping online than ever before. Your web presence must be accessible for all.
In this week’s blog, we talk about the importance of accessibility and how it often overlaps with search engine optimisation (SEO).
What is accessibility?
Website accessibility is all about ensuring your website is user friendly for everyone. It’s about making sure every user is able to understand, navigate, and engage with your website.
When your website is accessible it can be used by everyone regardless of barriers. It means you’re not excluding people with various disabilities, including visual, hearing, motor or cognitive impairments.
Why is it important?
There’s 14.1 million disabled people currently living and working in the UK. That’s a significant portion of the population you could be excluding from accessing your business or service if your content isn’t accessible.
Web accessibility also benefits website users without disabilities. Some older people or those with temporary disabilities may also find it difficult to use your website. For example, if a user has broken an arm, sustained a hand injury, or simply lost their glasses, would they still be able to use your website?
Training courses are available to help your business better understand the need for accessible websites. Services like KreativeInc can help you build websites that comply with accessibility standards and attract visitors at the same time.
The rollout of Google’s Core Web Vitals earlier this year made it clear that Google is putting user experience at the top of their list of priorities. It’s not hard to imagine a search algorithm update around accessibility metrics in the near future.
Don’t just take our word for it. Google has said, “Everyone should be able to access and enjoy the web. We’re committed to making that a reality.” Google is taking accessibility seriously because they want the best websites to rank highly. And the best websites are those that are easy for all users to understand and navigate.
How to make your website more accessible
It makes no difference if your website has been established for years or if you’ve just launched it. When you want your website to be more accessible, the first thing you need to do is check it for accessibility issues.
There’s tools out there to help you with this. A website accessibility evaluation platform, such as WAVE, will help identify where your website falls short when it comes to accessibility. All you have to do is copy and paste your website URL and WAVE will analyse the page for issues.
Using the report you get from your accessibility evaluation tool, you can then take the steps required to make improvements.
Use headings properly
Headings (such as Heading 1 and Heading 2) are responsible for the hierarchical structure of your web page. Using them correctly makes your website more visually appealing. The benefits don’t stop there. When blind or visually impaired people use a screen reader to access your website, the reader can navigate your website more effectively when headings are used properly.
When using headings, it’s important not to skip heading levels. You should use them in a logical sequence. For example if you use heading 1 and skip to heading 4, it makes it seem like your page is missing content. This can be confusing for those using a screen reader to access your content.
When you use headings the right way, it’s also easier for a search engine to understand your content when it’s indexing your pages - which is great for your SEO. You can dive deeper into learning about using headings better on the Web Accessibility Initiative’s website.
Image Alt Text
Adding alternative text for images is vital to your website being accessible to all. Not every visitor to your website will be able to see your images. Those using assistive technology, like text to speech software, will rely on this technology to read the alt text instead of the image.
It’s important for your alternative text to explain the information the image contains instead of describing what the picture looks like. Using Alt Text is a prime example of how accessibility and SEO overlaps. It’s a search engine ranking factor and helps search engine crawlers decipher an image’s subject matter and it’s a fundamental part of making your website accessible.
Audio and Video Transcriptions
Although the technology is getting better, when you use an automatic transcription service for audio and video, the results aren’t always accurate. Admittedly, sometimes the results can be hilarious! But if you’re serious about creating content that’s accessible for all, you should manually transcribe audio and video.
This provides a better experience overall for users with hearing disabilities and it provides search engines with an impressive amount of crawlable text that can help your rankings. Win- win!
As much as 85% of Facebook videos are watched on mute. If you want to increase the visibility and engagement of your podcasts and videos, accurate transcriptions offer an impressive boost.
While SEO helps drive traffic to your website, getting users to take action within your website once they’ve arrived is vital. Accessible design, including the size and colour text, promotes usability and is massively important to increasing conversion rates across the board.
Here’s some food for thought: 94% of first impressions of your website are based on the design. When your website is designed well enough that users with disabilities are able to fill out forms and complete purchases, it supports your overall conversion rate from all traffic sources.
Making your website accessible improves user experience overall and shows your commitment to inclusivity for all users. Google has already spent a long time measuring accessibility through their website performance testing tool Lighthouse. With their ever-growing desire to make the web user friendly for everyone, we wouldn’t be surprised to see accessibility becoming a big ranking factor in the future.
At Bobble Digital, we’re the experts when it comes to SEO. Ready to find out more about our services? Get in touch with us today.