Published on 14th June 2021 by Arron Westbrook

Why SEOs should care about accessibility

We know that making the internet accessible for everyone is fundamental to the rights of internet users. But what is the relationship of accessibility with search engine optimization? And how can SEOs use their position to ensure site accessibility is as good as it can be?

The latest installment of our webinar series looks at the importance of accessibility to SEO.

Joining Jon Myers from Ascending Media this past Thursday was Deepcrawl’s Technical SEO Analyst Ruth Everett and Account Director at Erudite Jessica James.

Read on for our digest of the presentation.
 

What is web accessibility?

At the topmost level, this is fairly easy to answer. It is the act of making sure websites are accessible and usable for everyone. Everett highlights that this means everyone needs to be able to:

It also includes auditory, cognitive, physical, neurological, and visual usability.

Accessibility is important to ensure the millions of users with long-term impairments worldwide can use our websites. Everett also details a number of other types of impairments that can affect users, including:

 

POUR – The four principles of accessibility

Everett uses the ‘POUR’ acronym to help remember the four principles of accessibility.

 

The intersection of SEO and accessibility

Everett points to data published by WebAIM which really highlights how issues of accessibility and SEO intersect.

Their research found that 98% of homepages have detectable access failures, while 97% of deeper content also failed accessibility testing.

Most common WCAG failures - missing alt text and empty links

WebAIM’s data also shows that alt. text and empty links are the 2nd and 3rd most prevalent failures on home pages. Of course, these are two components of site architecture that are often the responsibility of SEOs.
 

Why should we care?

As we touched on in the introduction, site accessibility should be a consideration for developers and SEOs because it is really a human rights issue – and one that has only become more important as users around the globe have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Everett also points to the growing legal implications for sites that don’t ensure access for all. For example, both Dominos and Beyonce have been sued in recent years for bad onsite access.

SEOs also know that good UX is not only better for users, but it is also becoming increasingly important to Google (especially as they launch their Core Web Vitals algorithm update). On purely business impact terms, conversion rates go up when usability is better and good UX builds brand loyalty.
 

Takeaways: How can we test and improve our sites?

So how can we SEOs make accessibility better? Erudite’s Jessica James offers some great advice on how we can test and improve our sites across 5 key areas:
WCAG colour contrast checker

1. Colour contrast:

good alt texts describe the images rather than simply name them

2. Ensuring images are accessible:

forms should be single column and clearly labelled

3. Ensuring forms are accessible:

ensure your navigation is accessible by ensuring descriptive link text is clear, logical and descriptive

4. Ensuring navigation is accessible:

Erudite's accessible homepage

5. Other quick wins:

 

Watch the webinar again in full

Author

Arron Westbrook
Arron Westbrook

Arron Westbrook is a former Content Marketing Manager at Deepcrawl. You'll find him writing about all things digital marketing, SEO, content, and automation.

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