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Top SEO practices and how they improve accessibility

Improving the accessibility of your website can have a huge impact on those with disabilities and their experience when using your site. According to RNIB, around 1 in 30 people in the UK are living with sight loss, and there are many more with other disabilities which can hinder the way that they navigate the web.

A huge benefit of making your website more inclusive is that you’re much more likely to achieve sales from these people if the information is easily accessible, and fortunately a lot of these practices are the same as general search engine optimisation. This means you can achieve both at the same time. Good Semantic HTML practices which can improve user experience include:

Correct use of image captioning and alt attributes.

This can strengthen the message of the page to search engine spiders, as well as help blind and visually impaired people understand what the image is for. The alt text describes what’s on the image and its function, and should be included for every image to help with on screen readers.

Captions can also help with general readability, and Kissmetrics even states that captions under images are read on average 300% more than the actual body of text!

Correct use of header tags (h1, h2 etc.)

Header tags are useful for on screen readers and site crawlers. They allow them to determine the hierarchy of the site and which points are the most important to the blog post, article or web page, so Google has a better idea of which searches it is relevant to. This can help with the overall page ranking, increasing the likelihood that you will reach the all-important first page on search engines.

Link anchor text

Described as the “visible, clickable text in a hyperlink” by this Moz article, link anchor text is an important metric used by search engines to determine the relevancy of the link for the page. By choosing a descriptive link anchor text which includes relevant keywords instead of something generic such as “click here” you can make it clearer to site readers and Google what the target page is about and improve that page’s ranking. This is especially useful when adding internal links.

 

How can I find out if my site is accessible?

The easiest way to tell if your website is accessible for people with a wide range of people with disabilities is to check the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are a great way to quickly tell if your website is:

  • Perceivable- visible to at least one of the user’s senses.
  • Operable- meaning the user is able to perform the necessary interactions on the page.
  • Understandable- ensuring that the quality and readability of the page isn’t affected.
  • Robust- the content should be able to be interpreted by a wide range of assistive technologies such as JAWS.

You can also use tools such as Wave or Tenon to get more of an understanding of how accessible your site is, however these will only give you a general idea. According to the government website, these will only identify around 20% to 30% of the total accessibility issues.

 

What can I do beyond SEO to improve the accessibility of my site?

Choosing a CMS (Content Management System) as well as themes, widgets etc. which support assistive technologies is an essential part of making sure your site is as inclusive and accessible as possible. Checking documentation or contacting the creator of these materials is a great way of finding this out.

The way in which you create the content of your site is also important. As I previously mentioned, this can often coincide with good SEO practices which can also lead to improving your page ranking. You should also avoid using PDF formatting as this type of content can’t be read by screen readers or text enlargers, making it difficult or impossible to read for the visually impaired.

The size and contrast of text might not have much of an effect on search rankings, but it is an essential factor in making your website more inclusive. By ensuring that you follow certain practices such as using text instead of text graphics (as these can become pixelated) and making sure that colour coding isn’t the only way that users can understand the text by including numbers, bullet points etc. you can greatly improve the experience of people browsing your site.

 

How can we help?

Search engine optimisation is one of our specialties, and we’re always happy to share our knowledge on how you can improve your SEO and site accessibility. Find out more by contacting us today.

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