When you design your website, you should keep all your customers in mind. 1 in 4 Americans has a disability, which means they may require additional features to browse your site.
Accessibility also refers to designing your web pages so that anyone can use them, regardless of their abilities or the technology they are using.
Not only is accessibility vital to ensuring that you maximize your customer base, but it can also boost your SEO. Here are some of the top reasons your website will rank higher on search engines when it serves all users!
Headers Add Structure to Your Content
One way to create accessible website design is to incorporate a header structure. These headers define the hierarchy within your website – think of it almost like an outline for an essay.
Proper header structure should follow a logical sequence and accurately describe the content found below it. You can use up to six levels of header tags, with H1 at the highest level and H6 at the lowest level.
When you incorporate headers into your web design, users with reading comprehension issues or who suffer from other cognitive impairments can still understand the content. They can skim the headers and determine if they can skip it and move on to the next one.
Similarly, if someone needs to rely on a screen reader, implementing a header structure will significantly improve their overall experience on your site. Rather than waiting for the tool to read every word on the page, they can review each header and decide if they want to keep reading or move forward.
When it comes to SEO rankings, header structures can make a big difference. For instance, Google wants to promote content that is broken up into logical chunks and matches what a user is looking for. If your header provides an instant answer to a frequent search term, then you could earn a featured snippet on the results page!
Sitemaps Maximize SEO Exposure
Next, let's talk about sitemaps. A sitemap is located at the bottom of a page, and it includes a link that outlines your website. It will provide links to each of the various sections of your site so that users can easily navigate it.
Search engine optimization relies on the ability to index all the pages on your site. SEO monitoring tools are perfect for a once over of your website content but can sometimes miss important pages or ignore content within your website. Having an updated sitemap can remedy this issue.
An HTML sitemap works as a guide for the search engine crawler – when the tool finds it, it will also get access to the rest of the links on the page. In other words, it provides a list of all the content on your website so that it can be ranked for SEO purposes.
You may be wondering, how does this relate to accessibility?
Many people with visual impairments rely on HTML sitemaps to navigate through your pages. Since they simplify navigation and keep everything on one page, it is the perfect way for them to get a big-picture overview of your content.
Web Accessibility Improves User Experience
Regardless of your industry or the products and service you sell, your website is designed to provide an effective user experience and encourage them to make a purchase. That means that the UX, or user experience, should drive your web design strategy and goals.
SEO rankings are also linked to UX, as those with the best experiences will be made more visible on the search engine results pages. However, the websites that have a poor user experience will rank poorly and likely not be found by the average viewer.
So, what factors contribute to the user experience? Quality content, site load times, internal links, and mobile compatibility, to name a few! The idea here is that search engines want people to find what they are looking for, and they also want to make that experience as seamless as possible.
Another way to look at it is that SEO rankings reward your organizations for providing an experience that serves all your users. This includes those individuals that require additional accessibility enhancements – anyone should be able to navigate your site with ease.
For example, your pages should load quickly, and your text should be large enough to be legible. Keep the navigations simple and intuitive, and make sure that your design elements are consistent with best practices – keep your logo on the top left and make sure that anyone who clicks on it gets linked back to the homepage!
Without Transcripts, Your Videos Won’t Be Indexed
Video content is one of the most effective ways to engage with your audience and drive conversions. 68% of people prefer to learn about new products and services through a video!
What about video transcripts, though?
A video transcript refers to a text description of the video. It will generally write out everything that was said in the video and describe the processes shown. They will even use words to describe what the visuals represent and the meaning they were trying to convey.
As you can imagine, these are a must from an accessibility standpoint. When a video is the central piece of content on a webpage, the standard practice involves putting the transcript immediately below it. If the video is not the primary focus of the page, include a link to the transcript.
Doing this allows users who are blind or deaf to be able to enjoy your content. This type of accessibility helps everyone others too, like those who have slow internet connections or are watching the video in a public place and cannot turn on their sound.
If those benefits aren't enough to convince you that you need video transcripts, consider this: search engines will not index videos if there is not a transcript linked to them. The SEO crawler can't listen to your video and identify what was said, so they will ignore it and move on to your other content.
When you add a transcript, though, the content can be indexed – and your website will be able to improve its SEO rankings!
Alt Text is Key for Context
Alt text improves your web design and accessibility by giving a textual alternative to images on a page. They are different from captions because they are not visible to the user – instead, they describe the image on the back end.
Incorporating alt text is a basic aspect of making your website accessible and is addressed in most guidelines for ensuring that those with disabilities can use your site. A screen reader can read the alt text to give the viewer context and enhance their experience.
Like with video transcripts, alt text allows search engines to index your images and use them to determine your SEO rankings. Effective alt text can even help your images appear high on the Google Image search pages!
Leveraging Schema Markups
Schema markups can also boost SEO for your rich media content. A schema is a universally accepted way to explain your site content to a search engine, which directly enhances your technical SEO. Think of it as a specific programming vocabulary that allows you to define the content and elements on your website.
These are very beneficial for screen readers too since they can more accurately describe the content to the visually impaired person relying on it.
Using Title Tags Makes Screening Simpler
Title tags are an essential way to improve accessibility while enhancing your SEO rankings.
As you may have guessed, these tags allow you to give each page on your site a unique title. They won't be visible on the actual webpage, but they will reflect on the tab at the top of the web browser and the search engine results page.
These title tags also make it easy for people with visual impairments to use screen readers. They often read the title first, so it allows them to identify the content shown. Title tags also ensure that they can understand the differences between pages of content without having to read through it all.
So, how do title tags affect SEO?
They play a crucial role in helping your content appear in search engine results. Google wants to make sure that your content matches what a user is searching for, and they will rely on the title tag for this information.
The title tag determines what your display tag will be on the search engine results page. This can also make a big difference in how many people click your link!
Mobile-Friendly Sites Rank Better
Mobile accessibility is key to the success of your website. 85% of Americans own a smartphone, and many of them prefer to use those devices to shop and browse the internet. The amount of content consumed on mobile devices has even surpassed that of desktop users! Learning how to build mobile optimized websites is a key factor to useability and acccessibility.
These capabilities are also essential for individuals with disabilities or other impairments. The text on your mobile site should be easily resizable up to 200% and work without any third-party technology. This will ensure that those with visual impairments can still use your website and read your content.
Another thing to consider is the colour contrast ratio. Keep in mind that individuals with colour blindness or low vision can see certain images better than others – use this as a guide when choosing font colours and visual designs.
Making these adjustments will also improve your SEO. Search engines will give preference to websites optimized for a mobile experience. It makes sense if you think about it – most web searches are performed on mobile devices anyways!