Web accessibility is an important factor in search engine optimization (SEO), but when building their web presence, business owners often overlook or ignore the principle. Basically, web accessibility means building a site that anyone can use — regardless of whether they’re navigating the site with a keyboard or using assistive technology. Accessible sites help people with disabilities use the internet, and since 61 million Americans live with disabilities, prioritizing accessibility helps your site reach a much larger audience.
For businesses, accessibility isn’t just an ethical concern. It can also invite lawsuits. While accessibility lawsuits are still rare, search engines prefer accessible websites for a simple reason: If a site is easy for anyone to use, it’s also easy for search engines to crawl. To put that another way: If your site is accessible for real-world users, it’s also accessible for the computers that determine search rankings.
4 Tips to Keep in Mind When Building an Accessible Website
- Provide text alternatives for media. Some users can’t view videos or listen to audio. Use tags and on-page content to make sure that users with low vision, hearing issues, and other disabilities aren’t left out. Providing text will also add content to your page that search engines can view and interpret, which can help your media-intensive pages rank higher.
- Be careful when tagging your images. Alternative text (also called alt-text) describes your image so that users understand what the image represents if they can’t access it. If you use text in your images, make sure that the alt-text contains that text. Make sure that alt-text is accurate and consistent throughout the site. Descriptive alternative text will help search engines interpret your images, and your web design team should understand the purpose of these tags.
- Pay attention to your structural elements. People with disabilities might want to jump around your page, particularly if you’ve got a website with lots of content. Structural elements like headings and subheadings help them use your site naturally. They’re also an important SEO signal — search engines assume that headings and subheadings contain vital information, so you should make sure headings contain important keywords. A descriptive heading like “Plumbing Services in Ontario” is much more helpful than something like “Our Services.”
- Understand that accessibility is a priority. If you’re building your own site, you’ll need to think about accessibility through every single step of the process. That’s especially important when adding media, forms, and anything else that could create roadblocks for your users. You’ll need to research best practices carefully, test your site regularly, and maintain a consistent approach.
Working with an experienced SEO and design team can cut out many of the common issues that affect users — and improve your SEO significantly in the process. Ideally, you should consult professionals at the beginning of a design or redesign project. Creating a clean, functional, and accessible website is much less resource-intensive than fixing issues on a live website.
We understand the importance (and usefulness) of accessible design. Whether you’re concerned about SEO or simply trying to avoid mistakes that could limit your audience, we’re ready to help. Contact us today to discuss your next project.