There is a huge overlap between web accessibility and SEO that many people overlook. Features that improve web accessibility are actually helping your website rank higher. Being aware of this mutually beneficial relationship will leave you with an accessible website that your users and Google will love. Here are five scenarios where web accessibility and SEO work together.

How Web Accessibility and SEO Work Together

Accessible design helps the user experience. 

Good user experience is all about putting the user first. And as it turns out, the goals of accessible web design are the same! Straightforward navigation and legible text are all a part of a good user experience but are also essential for users with visual or cognitive impairments. In addition, quick load times are great for users that don’t have access to high-speed wifi.

Google has made it very clear that the better the user experience, the more visible it will be on search results pages. Although user experience in itself isn’t a ranking factor, the things that contribute to a good user experience, like site load time, mobile responsiveness, and internal links, all play a big part in SEO. 

Title tags help searchers and screen readers.

Title tags give a title to each page of your website. Although they are not visible on the web page itself, they are present in two places: the tab on the top of your web browser and the results page of a search. 

Title tags allow people using screen readers to easily and quickly understand the differences between multiple pages. Since it is often the first element that is read aloud by a screen reader, it’s important that a title tag accurately reflects the content of a page. Accessibility means titling a page exactly for what it is, not something else like “This new product is great!”

Title tags are an important aspect of SEO and a primary place where your content should match a user’s intent. Your title tag takes part in determining your display title in the search engine results and is a visitor’s first impression and experience of your site. A title tag can single-handedly decide whether or not a user clicks on your site. 

Header structure establishes the content hierarchy.

Header tags will define the hierarchy structure of a web page similarly to how we use them to outline our essays. There are different levels of header tags, running from H1 to H6.

A good structure should follow a logical sequence, not skip sections (go from an H2 to H5), and accurately describe the content below. 

Users with limited reading comprehension or cognitive impairments will benefit from the clear headers as they can more easily determine which sections are worth a read. 

In addition, users that rely on screen readers need relevant header structures to have an enjoyable web experience since screen readers allow a user to skip through headers until they reach the section they want to read. 

Google loves content that matches a user’s intent and is one of the most critical aspects of good SEO. Headers are an important element in creating that content. Google advises that you break your content into “logical chunks.”

In addition, a good header structure can help you win featured snippets, a highly sought-after space at the top of simple Google searches, like “how to make an egg.”

Descriptive alt text provides context and keywords.

Alt text provides a textual alternative to the visual elements of a page. While captions are visible to all sighted viewers of a web page and are placed below an image, Alt text describes the image on the backend and isn’t visible to a sighted viewer.

In terms of accessibility, Alt text is one of the most essential elements of a website. Alt text is read aloud by screen readers to provide visually impaired users with context about images.

Alt text needs to be accurate for it to avoid confusing users. 

Alt text is also important to search engines. For example, Google says they use “alt text along with computer vision algorithms and the contents of the page to understand the subject matter of the image.”

Also, if you want images from your website to show up higher in Google image searches, alt text is very important. 

Video transcriptions help you get indexed.

Video transcription is a text-based recap of a video file. 

It is a standard practice to put the transcription on the same page below the video. Depending on the nature of the video, transcriptions can take a few different approaches:

  • Interviews or people talking will need transcriptions of what the people said.
  • A video describing a process needs a transcription that describes the process.
  • Visually striking videos need transcriptions to describe what the visuals convey.

Search engines are smart, but they aren’t necessarily listening to your videos to index them. When videos are engaging and interesting, a transcription on the same page will take it to the next level and allow Google to index it. 

For accessibility, the benefit here is quite obvious. Transcriptions make video content far more accessible to a larger group of people. 

Transcriptions make videos accessible to blind or deaf people, but they also are beneficial for:

  • Users with slow wifi.
  • Users triggered by flashing images.
  • Users in public with no headphones.

New Target Cares About Web Accessibility and SEO

Although they may seem like very separate ideas, web accessibility and SEO go hand in hand and are mutually beneficial. If your site is optimized for your users and accessibility, Google will love it too. 

At New Target, we believe every website should be intuitive for all kinds of users, including but not limited to people with cognitive, auditory, speech, physical, and visual disabilities. We also happen to be search marketing experts, and when we put our compassion for web accessibility and SEO together, beautiful things happen. Contact us today. 

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.
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