Accessibility for SEO
Accessibility is something all web developers and business owners should think about when building a new website. All people should have equal access to the information on the internet. Poorly designed and optimized websites can inadvertently deny access to people who have different abilities than most. Accessibility should not be done to increase SEO. However, it may help.
Increased accessibility means increased user experience
Much of SEO work focuses on accessibility of a website to search engines. It is also important to improve the user experience as part of your comprehensive SEO plan. Accessibility can play a big part in improving the user experience on your website.
There are a few very simple changes one can make to greatly improve accessibility, and thus keep users of all abilities on their site for longer (improving SEO).
Alt Tags – Adding Alt Tags to images is good for SEO because it tells Google and other search engines what the image contains. It has the same value for screen readers. Adding alt tags to your images is such a simple fix that can make a world of difference on your website.
Contrast – Users with vision problems benefit from high-contrast websites. If your website is not already high contrast, there are plugins available that allow the user to adjust as needed.
Links – Internal and external links are both important for SEO. Having rich anchor text can help a user decide whether or not to click on the link, as can the text in the sentence around the link. Try to avoid generic anchor text, like “Click here”, that adds no real value to the rest of the page.
Titles & Headings – Page titles are important as a clue to what each page is about. Writing strong page titles will help users want to learn more about what on the page. The same is true for section headings. It is important to write strong, properly tagged section headings so that screen readers (and search engines) can tell the hierarchy of information on a page.
Sitemap – One should include a sitemap on their website as it helps search engines to crawl every page of the site. Sitemaps are important for accessibility as they do the same for a screen reader. Each page is clearly accessible from one spot on your website.
Menus – Menus are a more obvious way to navigate your website. Make sure menu items are clear, and easily accessible using a keyboard as well as a mouse. It might also be helpful to include breadcrumb links on your pages to further help users navigate the site with ease.
Content – It is important to write information for your audience. This includes all types of audience members with different backgrounds and reading levels.
Contact Info – Many people take for granted the ability to fill out a form. Creating accessible forms can increase your conversion rate. Having an easy way for users to find your location or call you on the phone is also helpful!
It doesn’t have to be perfect
Even if you can’t accomplish all of these accessibility tasks right now, it is worth it to start somewhere. It is better to have improved accessibility than no accessibility at all. It may also have the added benefit of improving your website’s rankings!
If you are curious about ADA compliance and what happens if you don’t have an accessible website, please see our in-depth article on ADA Compliance for Websites. It contains a wealth of information and a list of WordPress Plugins that can improve the accessibility of your website.
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