We are all toiling hard in the pursuit of recognition. With a name comes fame. How popular is any celebrity without the top rankings on the Google search engine?! The same intent goes with all the content that is created to be disseminated online. The creators want their content to be seen and read, and this is where accessibility guidelines help in meeting this success criterion as well, generating better organic search results.
Search engines and accessibility are interdependent as both are fashioned to detect the significance of digital content based on a variety of parameters, such as sitemaps, anchor text (link text), blue-ribbon content using primary keywords, image captioning (alt text), title tags, headings, and header tags, transcriptions (audio and video), and structured data for a seamless UX (user experience).
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it helps in determining your rankings on search engines. Without SEO, your website may never be found during organic searches, and all your efforts could go to waste. SEO comprises techniques that enable your website to rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Also, a high clickthrough rate doesn’t solely account for a successful SEO strategy; reaching the target audience using intent-based keywords adds more in the long haul. A crawled and indexed web page helps your product, service, or brand achieve better visibility and accessibility; hence the correlation.
SEO and Accessibility Overlap- The Core of Digital Marketing
For years, search engines have focused on improving user experience; from improving content quality to using machine learning to deliver more accurate search results. Mobile experience to optimize the experience on the page has been in more focus lately by the SEO industry. Despite all these factors, there is one usability factor that is often ignored by many web designers and developers, i.e. accessibility. It has been found that over 95% of websites in the United States are not accessible.
It has been clearly stated by Google that web accessibility contributes to usability; this factor is further accentuated with the release of its Core Web Vitals Algorithm.
On-Page SEO elements such as Image Alt Text, Sitemap, Breadcrumb Links, Navigation Menus, Header Tags, and Anchor Text are also regarded as web accessibility features.
The future depends all the more on the UX (user interface) and the UI (user interface) design. This generates the need for alignment between SEO and Web Accessibility. Following the basic accessibility guidelines (WCAG) keeps almost all of the most important SEO specifications in check; generating relevant content for users, in both content and design.
The end goal is to provide equal access to high-quality content irrespective of disabilities and limitations, increasing viewership and generating rankings, hence more revenue.
Here are some good practices that should be considered while publishing content on websites-
The W3C promotes title tags to assist individuals with disabilities in effectively accessing a website and understanding the content more precisely.
Page titles and tags are the core of SEO. It provides page content to search engines, highlighting the domain name.
H1 headings identify the page title and help with SEO as they direct search engines and give general users a good idea of the content on a page. Headings are also useful for the orientation of assistive technologies such as screen readers.
H2-H6 tags denote sub-topics and help in defining the content structure. From the perspective of SEO and accessibility, the main topic and subtopics must be marked with proper headings that describe the content. Also avoid the usage of more than one H1 heading, which might affect SEO and jumble the screen readers as well.
Transcriptions for Multimedia:
Providing transcriptions for multimedia is a good SEO practice that makes content crawlable for search bots, enabling the page to rank for more keywords and supporting indexing.
Proper video and audio transcriptions should be provided for users with hearing impairments.
For accessibility and SEO purposes, make sure all your video content includes quality captions. It is recommended to also include a transcription of the video underneath whenever possible.
For audio only (without visuals), it’s good practice to have a secondary resource that contains a full transcription of the audio.
Image Captioning using ALT-Text:
“Alt-text” is widely used by search engines to determine an image and its relationship to the text surrounding it. This enhances the chances of ranking an image in the image search. The inclusion of relevant images in an article makes the content more interactive, helping it rank better in top search engines.
Describing precise alt-text to images under the image or in the code helps assistive technologies such as screen readers in reading out the image for the better understandability of visually impaired users.
Directive Anchor Text:
Descriptive anchor text for links delivers context for search engines to understand the link summary.
It directs assistive technology to speak out loud for screen reader users browsing through links what the link points to, helping visually impaired users find the right information.
It is necessary to use relevant anchor text that describes the information on a linked page.
Right Schema Markup:
Schema markup is an orderly and authoritative line of code that conveys to a search engine the whole topic of a website; it can either be a listing, a product, a tutorial, etc.
Sometimes referred to as “Structured Data”, assists search engines to understand what a page is about. It qualifies pages for text/voice search-rich results, which helps in indexing faster.
Structured data also helps assistive devices use different browsers to better understand information on a page and direct navigation.
Doing It Right
Both, accessible content and search engine optimized content are machine readable. That implies they rely on semantics and structure to determine the applicability of the content. A fair blend of web accessibility and search engine optimization is a perfect combination for content creators and end users.
Accessibility is often overlooked due to the misconception that web accessibility is only for people with disabilities. Enterprises need to make accessible content, not only for the benefit of the readers but also for the gain of SEO benefits.
We, your accessibility comrades at Pivotal Accessibility, help you to experience the web like never before and are your forever guide to digital inclusion; one step closer to building an accessible future.
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