More than 1 billion people worldwide live with a disability of some type. These can vary, and many of these make it difficult for people to interact with the world around them in very specific ways. While standard websites are easy to use for most people, others might struggle to use them properly.
By making your website more accessible, people with disabilities will have an easier time accessing your content. This will provide them with a better, more welcoming experience. As a secondary benefit, some of these website upgrades are also beneficial for SEO. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the key website accessibility elements you can focus on to improve SEO.
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If you’re in a rush at the moment, don’t sweat it! You can always download this post as a PDF and come back to these ADA compliance and website accessibility tips later.
A page title can be seen by a search engine user before they even reach your site, making it crucial for SEO. This is where a lot of your website traffic will come from, so you need to make sure they’re clear and relevant. People should easily be able to identify a page from the title, and they serve to differentiate pages when users have multiple tabs open.
From an accessibility standpoint, screen readers use these titles to let users know when they’re moving from one page to another. Therefore, rather than optimizing these for keywords, you should optimize them so they’re as descriptive and accurate as possible for users.
Your H1 tags/page titles are the most important, followed by H2-H6 tags. They let users know what content is on a page and break it down into sections. In addition, assistive technologies can navigate through a page quickly using the various headers.
You should optimize these for users. This makes it easier for people to find the content they’re looking for. Only use them when there’s content below, and ensure the content is relevant.
Anchor text is a link and should clearly describe the content it’s linking to. As such, users can get an idea of whether or not they want to follow the page based on the content they’re expecting to find.
Readers scan through pages and let users know there’s a link, then explain what it is. If users want to follow it, they can. Search engine crawlers can detect these too, and will use the anchor text to determine what the content is that it links to. The sentence link can also help with both SEO and website accessibility.
A good navigation system is key in helping users get around your website with ease. You want to clearly display the most important pages of your website and make it simple for people to find what they’re after. This applies to both users and search engine crawlers.
Navigation links are usually tab-able. This means that all screen readers and keyboards can read them. In your navigation, you should only include primary pages, not your whole website.
If you include too many unnecessary pages, it will indicate to website crawlers that your site has a flat architecture. It can also make things more confusing for users.
Sitemaps also help people get around your website and are often more straightforward than the navigation system. For good accessibility, your sitemap should give a full overview of your website and provide clear access to all of the key pages.
Sitemaps also help with SEO via search engine crawlers. They can easily find links to different pages on your website, which is crucial if there aren’t links anywhere else on your site.
These are another useful way for users to navigate through your site. They can help users navigate back to the original page they were looking at, or the top-level content of the page they’re on. They often trace back along the same path that a user will have taken to reach their current page.
In terms of SEO, breadcrumb links are ideal for internal linking. This is especially true of large sites that are a bit more complex. They can also give search engine crawlers and screen readers a good explanation of the structure of your site.
Placing all breadcrumb links in the same locations on the pages across your website is good for accessibility. You should also ensure they clearly describe what they’re linking to.
This is one of the most well-known aspects of digital accessibility. Users with visual impairments may not be able to see images properly, so you can use alt text to describe the images on your site. Screen readers can read this text aloud, so you should make sure it’s accurate and descriptive.
Alt text also provides context to screen readers so that your images show up in relevant image searches. Search engines use modern machine learning algorithms which can detect keyword stuffing in the alt text, so you want to avoid this. Computer vision is also now capable of identifying the content of images to automatically generate suitable alt text.
Making sure all of the content on your site is easy to read and digest is crucial. Keeping things at a simple reading level will make it accessible to more people – especially those with cognitive disabilities or those with a different first language to the one your site uses. Some good practices are:
- Avoid jargon
- Keep language simple
- Keep text left-aligned
- Utilize lists
Having URLs that are easy to read is also a good idea. Make it clear to users and search engines what the context of your page/website is. Text separators such as dashes can also help with this.
Improving Website Accessibility
Good digital marketing is crucial to building a successful website, but you want to make sure you’re taking web accessibility into account. Make things easy for users, as well as search engines, and people will have a much better experience with your site.
This is a guest post by Clarissa Castillo.
Clarissa is a freelance writer who is passionate about raising awareness for accessibility in all spaces. She has been working in SEO for almost three years and is looking forward to seeing the impact that her work can make as she continues her career.
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