Website accessibility is something any web developer or professional should be familiar with. With the Americans with Disabilities Act in place since 1990, public spaces have had to keep in mind whether or not they’re paying attention to how accessible they are to differently abled persons. Well 30 years down the road in 2021, the same can now be said for these very same public spaces’ online presences. Websites now must also take note on whether they are being inclusive and paying appropriate attention to being accessible. With about 61 million people having some kind of disability in the United States, that’s a big chunk of people to be leaving out. Websites may find themselves in sticky situations with ADA-related lawsuits but the use of an ADA website compliance checker tool may assist in avoiding such situations. But aside from the website itself being ADA-compliant, directing your prospective customers to your website may still be an issue if you are not taking accessibility into account.
A highly accessible website is one that has all four of the major categories for accessibility. These categories have been put into place by the World Wide Web Consortium, which has published the Web Content Accessibility Guideline. For the means of this article, we are looking at the currently published 2.1 version. This version features the P.O.U.R. Principles as the main guiding factors. Adhering to this standard means your website and its contents are Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
Here’s why accessibility matters for SEO
Less is More
According to Tribute Media, many of the best accessibility practices can also be great SEO practices but it may not always work the other way around. Highly accessible sites need to be understandable, based on the P.O.U.R. Principles. Loading your websites with keywords in the alt text may seem like a good way to get more in, but those who use screen readers and alt text may not be able to make heads or tails of your content.
Two Birds with One Stone
Search engines like Google take user experience into account. And when you are able to check off all the boxes and have made your website accessible, it will be glaringly obvious how these elements can improve the overall experiences of your website visitors, even if they are part of the nondisabled community. Having content be easily readable with good fonts, appropriate sizes, and good color contrast are all things users will enjoy. Clear and concise wording, closed captioning, and easy to navigate features will help improve user experience and in turn your SEO.
Top of Mind
An issue with the website WordPress had users and SEO specialists ask the hard questions: Is accessibility an afterthought? In an article by Roger Montti, he shuts this down immediately. Focusing on accessibility in SEO brings about some of the aforementioned reasons but also it will be a source of repeat visits to your websites, and lower bounce rates. This could very well mean higher sales and repeat purchases of your goods or services on top of higher ranks because of your alt text and other accessibility features.