Accessibility is important for every website. It’s a necessity for a business that wants to engage with every member of the general public. In the United States, not accommodating a website is a violation of the American Disabilities Act. With improved SEO on your site, web accessibility goes hand-in-hand. If your users have an improved experience, your site will have lower bounce rates, higher rate of conversions and positive feedback.
Companies need to understand where search engine optimisation and accessibility overlap to optimise correctly for both, although you will need to remember that optimising for one doesn’t mean you have automatically optimised for the other.
Here are a few examples where the two can overlap:
- Image captioning and video transcripts
- Title tags and header tags (e.g. H1, H2, H3)
- Image alt attributions and link anchor text
- The order of site content
- Sitemaps and table of contents
- Semantic HTML
Ensuring your website is accessible for everyone is also a way for you to dominate within your niche, when many others are ignoring a large consumer base you will be able to give disabled users an enjoyable website experience, giving them an easy way to purchase your product or service. Follow our guide on how to ensure you have an accessible website.
The Benefits of Page Titles
Although title tags are not visible on the page of your site, they are the first thing a user sees when they come across your website as they are present in two key locations, the tab at the top of your browser and, more importantly, the Google results page.
The SEO benefits of the <title> tag are pretty obvious, it’s the primary place where your content should match the users intent. Even if your page ranks well if the title isn’t appealing users will not click onto it. You should almost always write a title that reflects the page content, e.g. choose ‘New Gaming System From Company X’ rather than ‘This New System Will Blow Your Mind!’
This is also the first place that assistive technologies like a screen reader will ‘read’, ensuring the user can quickly comprehend the information provided and find the right piece of content.
Establishing A Content Hierarchy
The content hierarchy of a website is meant to flow to allow for ease of reading and easy digestion of information. Good website structure follows a logical sequence, accurately describes the content that follows, and doesn’t skip sections (e.g. going from an H1 straight to an H3).
For SEO, content that matches the users intent is critical for Google, directly saying that it’s beneficial to break your content up into ‘logical chunks’. Good header structure can also help you win a featured snippet (or instant answer) that appear right at the top of the SERP, the snippet displays the answer to the user’s question by picking out H1s, H2s, etc. from the users content to display a quick answer.
Implementing this will be beneficial to those with limiting reading comprehensions or cognitive impairments as the clear headers allow them to decide which sections are worth reading and which are worth skipping. For those with impaired sight who use a screen reader, the header structure improves their website experience as their reader allows them to skip through headers until they find the section they need, as a sighted user would quickly scan a page.
Providing Content With Descriptive Alt Text
Again, not visible to a user while on the website, but alt text is very important as it allows Google to crawl the page, picking up a description of the photo as it goes. This applies to standard images such as .jpg, .png, or .gif.
Google explains that alt text allows search algorithms or ‘view’ the content of the page and understand the image, it provides search engines further information about your site content allowing you to rank higher. Alt text also matters if you want your image to show up high in Google Images. View our full guide on link-building here.
Alt-text is described as one of the most basic and important accessibility aspects. The text is read aloud by screen readers to provide details about the images to those with visual impairments. It needs to be accurate as possible, describing the text rather than trying to sell something. “Orange Cat Sleeping In Cat Bed” rather than “Cat beds for sale | Beds for Cats | Purchase Cat Beds Now’.
Set User Expectations and Page Relevancy With Anchor Text
Linked anchor text is highlighted and clickable text on your website. The purpose of optimising the anchor text is to ensure the link is explained to the user accurately and describes the page you’re linking to.
Google will look at anchor texts of the link pointing to a page to examine the quality of the site and to find out more information about the content – this is why having high-quality links to your website is a good SEO practise.
Users who navigate the website through a screen reader will often choose to browse by skipping through the links, as these users frequently do not read the sentences immediately before and after the link, having an accurate anchor text will ensure these users know where each link is pointing.
Navigating Pages Through Sitemaps
The sitemap is an outline of your websites with all the links pointing to various pages, they are used to let search engines crawl your site easier, letting them know what pages to look at and which to ignore.
This is one of the most crucial steps for a well-optimised site, ensuring no pages you want to include are missed by the search engines when the crawler reads your sitemap. It will see all the links on your page which you want to show up in the SERP.
Many users with visual impairments often choose to use the sitemap to browse through the site, it gives users an easy-to-navigate, bigger picture view of the site content, allowing the user to make the most out of the website quickly and efficiently.
Optimising for accessibility goes far beyond what you see on a website, there is a lot more of a technical game to this, but if you understand the overlap you can successfully start optimising. Here you can find out more information on web accessibility guidelines. Whatever kind of industry you work within, contact our dedicated team of SEO and PPC experts who will use their extensive experience to optimise your website accessibly or your whole strategy.