It's a common misconception that web accessibility comes at a cost to web developers and marketers with little benefit. Search engine optimization (SEO) best practices and following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) actually overlap. Although 25% of US adults have a disability, marketers have largely treated web accessibility as an afterthought rather than a crucial pillar of content development. In fact, websites that take web accessibility seriously consistently rank higher than their competition on Google and YouTube.
When a website is inaccessible it's not just an in an issue of compliance, it's also bad practice on display. People with disabilities ranging from seeing, hearing, cognitive and others may navigate and consume content in different ways, including with assistive technology, so it's not difficult to understand why a lack of accessibility negatively impacts SEO. Web accessibility isn’t just for developers either — it’s just as important for marketers to make it part of their digital marketing foundation to ensure that opportunities for success aren’t missed.
Web accessibility can help improve your SEO by keeping your website’s interface cleaner, easier to navigate, and improving the bounce rate among other benefits.
Here are five ways web accessibility benefits SEO in digital marketing
The suggestions listed below are only a sampling of the many ways you can empower web accessibility to benefit SEO.
Mobile websites matter
It’s no surprise that content is being consumed primarily by mobile and has since eclipsed desktop users. As more and more content is generated and shared among mobile users, it can easily be said that mobile accessibility is just as important as desktop accessibility, and testing for only the latter could inadvertently hurt your SEO.
Text should be resizable up to 200% without the need for third-party assistive technology. If a user is visually impaired and unable read your website’s copy, you can bet they’ll likely leave without converting. Additionally, an appropriate color contrast ratio is important for those who have low vision or color blindness.
Content like images and infographics should contain descriptions of the content being displayed, usually in an alt attribute. Alt attributes are important because assistive technologies rely on them to convey the content to the user. Rather than putting “an image of a dog” into the alt attribute, you should be as specific as necessary to convey the information someone takes away from looking at the image, i.e. “a golden retriever puppy sitting obediently.”
As for videos and audio, you’ll want to transcribe the content and providing closed captions rather than opting for that which is auto-generated by the platform you’re using. Videos that have accurate closed captions and transcriptions are favored by YouTube and should be an integral piece of your content development strategy. Transcribing your visual and audio content into multiple languages is another way to increase the size of your audience.
Make navigation easier and consistent
The significance of user experience and ease of use in today’s internet age can’t be overstated enough and having a disability doesn’t mean perusing a website has to be difficult or exclusionary. For example, websites should be navigable using only a keyboard and tab order should be considered. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that there are plenty of digital landmarks in the code so that users with screen readers and other assistive technology can properly navigate without having to listen to all the text on the page.
Page title and language
Each page should have a unique and descriptive title, along with HTML code that identifies the language used. User agents, like internet browsers, and other applications like screen readers need this information to accurately understand and communicate the page content. It’s also critical for those using translation tools. Ideally, an international or multi-lingual audience should be able to digest your content without unnecessary technological or language barriers.
Remember regular maintenance of web accessibility
Developing content with web accessibility as a part of strategy should never be a one-off initiative, nor should it take the backseat as a strategy priority. Staying on top of web accessibility requires just as much vigilance as other website maintenance — the flow of information is constant, and unlikely to wane with the advent of so many content sharing platforms.
Digital marketing with web accessibility built into the culture of your team can differentiate you from other content marketers who abandon the practice in favor of expediency or to avoid having to invest company resources.
Making your website accessible doesn’t have to be daunting task. At BoIA, we’ll provide a free graded report of your website accessibility. Get our free and confidential WCAG 2.0 scan of your website today — we’ll be ready to help you reach your digital needs and goals.