SEO and accessibility are strongly correlated when it comes to ensuring websites are usable by the people visiting them. Before we get into how the two intersect, let’s go over what web accessibility actually is.
Website accessibility basically means a website should be constructed to ensure all users are able to navigate, understand and interact with it to promote a positive experience. This has been vital for organizations amid the coronavirus pandemic as people have spent a lot more time searching online for products and services. An accessible website should help all users:
- Easily navigate the site
- Promote a positive experience
- Find the information they are looking for
There are four principles a website must have in order to be accessible:
Perceivable - Website provides text alternatives and a logical structure
Operable - Allows users enough time to navigate the website regardless of the device they’re browsing on
Understandable - Has a predictable and consistent navigation
Robust - Must be accessible and interpreted through different platforms
Now that we’ve covered web accessibility, let's look at how it intertwines with SEO to maximize website success.
The Correlation of SEO and Accessibility
The objective of SEO is to make sure websites are accessible and visible on search engines. Through both SEO and accessibility, the objective is to get relevant content on a website seen by an intended audience. With this in mind, let’s explore where the two interact on a website.
Page titles provide context for users so they can better understand what the webpage is about (accessibility), and also will appear as the main headline in a search result (SEO).
Sitemaps are useful for users in that they can be used to find content, especially when a website has a complex navigation. This is important for accessibility of a site to provide an overview and clear access to all pages on the site. In terms of SEO, sitemaps can help identify links to other pages on a site.
Anchor text is used to describe content that will be found on the page being linked to, such as the purpose of the page, so users can determine whether the linked page is worth visiting. The anchor text is also helpful for SEO by utilizing keywords instead of a generic “click here” message.
One of the most important elements of a website is to ensure the content is readable for both users and search engines. Simplifying the readability of a website is vital in order to avoid jargon or difficult language that could steer people away from staying on a site. Readable URLs are also important for accessibility so users can be informed of what they will find when clicking on a page, as well as for search engines to understand the context of the page.
Lastly, one of the more well-known correlations of SEO and accessibility is image alt text. This is used to provide textual alternatives for visual impairments and an understanding of the context behind an image. Alt text allows for search engines to determine keywords so the image can be displayed in search results as well.