The Strategic Impact of Accessibility in SEO

Updated: January 9, 2024
accessibility in seo

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Accessibility in SEO makes it easier to navigate websites, find information, and improve the user experience despite impairments. Good website accessibility ensures websites are available to everyone.

SEO gets websites seen and improves traffic, but it doesn’t help if those websites aren’t accessible for everyone. Accessibility makes a big difference in how websites are used and brands are perceived.

Website accessibility ensures all websites are usable for everyone, whether someone is using tools to enhance vision or to handle situational impairments, such as being on limited internet.

Why is accessibility important, and what impact does it have on SEO? Here’s what you need to consider.

    Unraveling the Link Between Website Accessibility and SEO

    Search engine optimization focuses on ensuring people can find websites through search engines. However, it’s important to note that SEO can also impact a website’s accessibility.

    For example, H1 headings are keyword-rich and have an impact on SEO. In addition, H1 tags are used by assistive technologies to help users navigate to specific sections of content.

    Web Accessibility Guidelines require websites to provide video transcripts. Video captioning helps those with visual or hearing impairments. In addition to helping impaired individuals, search engines can better understand video content when captions are added, which improves SEO.

    These are just two examples of links between SEO and accessibility. Improving accessibility can have a positive impact on SEO overall.

    How Accessibility Enhances User Experience and SEO

    Accessibility changes enhance user experiences when considering how a user may be trying to access a website. For example, using the right heading tags makes page navigation more straightforward while allowing screen readers to read them more easily.

    Readability is the primary concern regarding user experience, which is why it’s standard to use many headings, short paragraphs, lists, and simple language in most web content today.

    Navigating the Four Pillars: Understanding Principles of Accessibility for SEO

    The four pillars, or principles, of accessibility for SEO include:

    1. Perceivable: This pillar focuses on making information easy to understand with text alternatives, adaptable content, and multimedia alternatives.
    2. Operable: This pillar ensures easy interaction with the website via time-based media, navigability and focus order, and good keyboard accessibility features.
    3. Understandable: The third pillar focuses on making content easy to understand. You’ll see this through predictable, readable content, input assistance tools, and consistent navigation features.
    4. Robust: Finally, robust is the pillar that focuses on making websites accessible to diverse audiences, including people with assistive technologies. Websites need semantic HTML, regular testing and updates, and solid, valid code to work for these users.

    For a website to have good accessibility, it must satisfy all four pillars. Beneficially, when creating content that meets these pillars, SEO is typically enhanced.

    The Crucial Role of Accessibility in Modern SEO

    Modern SEO is necessary because it brings much-needed, relevant traffic to websites. SEO helps search engines understand website content so they know when to return the website as an appropriate result for users searching for a keyword term.

    SEO doesn’t just help the website grow its business and brand; it also benefits users online. Simply typing “dogs in Manchester”, for example, will bring up websites about dogs in Manchester. However, the exact website will vary based on SEO and accessibility features.

    For that reason, websites aiming to thrive should put accessibility at the forefront. Website accessibility is actually part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and has been a part of the internet’s requirements since 1990. Since then, it has been illegal to discriminate against those with disabilities online.

    So, for the purposes of SEO, meeting the requirements of the ADA is essential. Failing to do so could lead to a violation of the Title III section of the ADA, which can lead to problems with website compliance and, as a result, SEO.

    How Accessibility Practices Propel SEO Rankings

    Good website accessibility practices can play a significant role in SEO rankings. Google prioritizes websites that have accessibility features that make them usable by all.

    Additionally, accessible websites usually have more data and content, making them easier to index and crawl.

    With more content, there is often an increase in organic traffic and, as a result, higher SERP rankings. On top of that, having features such as alt text and properly structured headings can make it simpler for users interested in that topic to correctly identify the website’s contents.

    Remember that accessible websites usually load faster and are optimized for mobile devices. They’re more informative, having descriptive headings, alternative text on images, and a strong HTML structure that is easy to understand.

    Since Google makes up 90% of the search engine market share, it’s impossible to avoid meeting these requirements. So, implementing them as soon as possible is an excellent way to stay on the right side of the ADA while also improving traffic organically through improved search engine ranking.

    Incorporating Accessibility Best Practices for SEO Success

    There are many best practices for improving accessibility and SEO. Some of these can be achieved with free SEO tools, while others require you to change your workflow manually.

    Here are five of our top choices for steps to take right now:

    1. Start using alternative text with images. Describe those images clearly so screen readers and other tools can understand what they are.
    2. Use more headings. Keep navigation straightforward and easy to understand as it goes down the page.
    3. Use simple, short paragraphs to make your site easy to read.
    4. Use bullet points and drop-down bars to effectively assist with navigation and the most important sections of the page.
    5. Test for mobile devices, ensuring your site is user-friendly for those on tablets, smartphones, etc.

    Are you ready to take the next step? Create interactive content with ION without writing one line of code. Get in touch to request a demo today.


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