In today's digital era, consumers often know what they want, or think they know what they want, so they take to search engines to find it or learn more so they can make the smart decision. Digital marketers have the task of developing content that will help position their organizations as the best answers to consumers' questions — but first that content has to be found. Interestingly, what is needed to make that happen is the same thing needed to make that information more accessible, but unfortunately this simple solution is usually overlooked: text.
Relevance in search results can be vital to a business's success, which is why most marketers consider search engine optimization (SEO) a priority. 64% of marketers say they actively invest time in SEO, says Hubspot.
Marketers are continuing to find new and creative ways to build beautiful and engaging content that tells a story and connects with people. However, failing to prioritize and understand how to use text will hinder SEO, so people may never find the content organically.
There isn't a hidden message here or a twist on what is meant by text. Text, actual text, like the words you're reading right now:
- Is the foundation of SEO
- Is the foundation of accessibility
Search engines crawl through countless web pages to try to find the most relevant results. They do this based on text. They can understand text and they know what to do with it. Text tells them what information is on a page, and they show that information to users in search results.
If information is only shown in images, search engines can't find it. They can't find the words someone said in a video if that content isn't also transcribed in text. They can't decipher icons and symbols to show in search results what someone might understand by looking at the content.
Search engines need text. They keep looking until they find the best text to show in results.
Similarly, digital accessibility, which focuses on making content usable for people with disabilities, relies on text. Certainly, there are many best practices for accessibility, but none of them would matter without text.
Screen readers, like search engines, look for and communicate text. They understand text and will look for text to communicate to their users.
Also like search engines, screen readers aren't limited to reading text in this form, in an article or even with words that are necessarily visible. They instead look for text for almost all the elements on a web page. They look for a text alternative for images or a text transcript for a video. They look for labels available in text that they can use to understand what a button or other control will do.
Accessibility, of course, does not only focus on making content available to screen readers. All web users with disabilities should be able to consume content.
For so many people, text is at the heart of accessibility and usability. And the same is true for marketers who want to improve SEO and inbound marketing.