Accessibility And SEO

by Gary on October 17, 2007 · 3 comments

in Accessibility

Are you aware that if your website is accessible it is also search engine friendly? By “accessible” I don’t mean that your website should be hosted on a server and it should be accessible to all your visitors, I mean that is assumed, right? Accessibility regarding websites means that your website is accessible to people of all abilities and this means that visually as well as physically challenged people should also be able to access your website and if they’re not able to access your website that means that your website is not accessible no matter if you get hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Aside from the government regulations, if you incorporate accessibility features into your website you make your website search engine friendly; this is because basically the search engine crawlers go through your website as if a browser for the visually challenged would access its contents.

But what constitutes an inaccessible website? An inaccessible website does not have a clearly defined navigation system. It is full of images and flash animations and other needless stuff. Now if you have a website that primarily deals with videos and images then you cannot help it but if you are having videos and images just as bells and whistles then you are needlessly making your website inaccessible to a big part of population who could have used your website to do business with you.

If you think that people who have visual or physical impairments anyway are not going to be your customers or clients then you are living away from reality because on the Internet you never know if 30% of your visitors have visual or physical limitations. Anyway this is not the main point of this post; the main point is that by making your website accessible you make it search engine friendly because the search engines like accessible websites and they don’t like inaccessible websites. Simple.

So how does your website become searching and friendly when you make it accessible?

  • With all the images you use the ALT text so that the browsers of the visually impaired surfers can make out what is there in the image.
  • You use the keywords in the hyperlinks. This tells people where the links are leading to.
  • Less use of JavaScript and flash animation. This way you remove from the website things that cannot be detected by the browsers for the visually impaired.
  • You have a sitemap at the top; this means all your links are immediately accessible with just a few clicks or tabs.
  • A meaningful page title means people with visual impairment can immediately make out what’s the page about because the title of your page is the first thing their browser reads.
  • Since the visually impaired can quickly scan through your web pages by tabbing to your headings and subheadings it makes perfect sense to clearly define them.
  • If you use CSS to create your layout it means that without the layout your text and the navigation bar appears in a linear fashion and this means it can be easily accessible to all browsers.

Hence you can easily make out that if you follow the accessibility guidelines you also end up making your website search engine friendly.

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SEO Carly October 21, 2007 at 7:55 pm

When i first met my blind friend i was completely stunned to find out he uses the internet daily. He’s light sensitive, meaning he knows if he’s in sunlight or darkness and that’s the extent of his vision.

He uses Jaws for Windows, so i’ve had the experience of both hearing Jaws vocalize webpages as well as seeing the page and what design and content is ideal or not.

However… I’m still guilty of not ensuring my pages are fully accessable and it’s something i should pay more attention to because yes, the better your pages with these screen reading devices the better it is for search engines.

This is something i think the large majority of SEO’s and Designer don’t take in to account.

Jane February 13, 2010 at 5:00 am

Check to make sure that all the fields and buttons of your site submission forms are working. Similarly with the search box, which is commonly used by users to find what they want.

Goran February 22, 2010 at 11:56 am

An oldie but a goodie post here. A meaningful page title is a must for effective on page optimisation, and this goes for both human eyes and search engine bots. I’ve never thought about the visually impaired aspect, but it actually helps me when trying to figure out the most effective page titles. Thanks for the insight!