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How Web Accessibility Plays Into SEO

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SEO can be a difficult beast to tame. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, another metric to watch or guideline to consider ends up affecting your search results and site performance. No matter how much SEO training you’ve had, there’s always something you can improve on. Accessibility happens to be one of the most important things you can focus on in your SEO endeavors. 

But what does accessibility have to do with improving how customers and users find your site? It turns out, it matters a lot. Web accessibility can not only affect your rankings but can play a primary role in improving bounce rates, sales, conversions, and customer satisfaction as well. By exploring how accessibility plays into SEO, you too can create better results for your web platforms.

The Role of Web Accessibility in SEO

Web accessibility is such a large and important part of SEO that if you aren’t planning for it, your results are bound to suffer. This has only come to play more of a role as search engines like Google incentivize accessibility across web development. And this is for good reason.

Accessibility is essential to both the ethical obligations of a business and to expanding your user base. Without it, you risk hurting your public perception. A focus on accessibility, then, can only help and never hurt your optimization of digital content. 

To streamline your content, you should be making it more accessible anyway. This is because usability and functionality are essential when creating a desirable user experience. These features naturally integrate accessibility, and they even produce sustainable web designs that empower environmental protection.

Web accessibility is defined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) around a set of four core principles. These principles are:

  • “Perceivability”
  • Operability
  • Understandability
  • Robustness

Each of these principles plays a part in any SEO strategy, resulting in more traffic, engagement, and conversions for you. Perceivability means how more people will be guided to and spend time on your landing pages. Operability means how they’ll move through the site. Understandability means now they’ll consider your products, and robustness indicates an ability to translate and adapt to a variety of devices and assistive technologies.

But how can these features boost your SEO outcomes?

How Web Accessibility Can Boost Your SEO

Your metrics and SERP results are all determined by the way your site functions, flows and engages the user. Accessibility is a key component of all these factors. To show how we’ll explore SEO ranking metrics as they relate to each of the core WCAG principles. 

Perceivability

To start, perceivability represents the ability of an audience to understand the content that is presented to them. Ad banners and pop-ups that obfuscate the web page also can impact this.

Don’t forget that worldwide at least 2.2 billion people live with some level of visual impairment. This is a massive audience that you could alienate with poor accessibility optimization. 

Because implementing an alternative medium for content (e.g. captions on videos, transcripts of podcasts, alt text on images) is so important, it can boost your SEO through a few essential ranking factors. These include:

  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Click-through rate

Operability

Next, the operability of a web page is vital to all kinds of optimization processes. From the ability of a user to interact safely with the site to the speed at which they can navigate it, all manner of functions are tracked and ranked by search engine web crawlers. Any improvements in operability translate to better SERP results.

For example, a transition from HTTP to HTTPS can enhance the operability of your site and boost your SEO rankings all at once. This is because HTTPS is recognized by web crawlers for its greater security and will list your site higher as a result. By focusing on operability, you’ll naturally boost your site’s:

  • Website security
  • Page speed
  • Traffic

Understandability

All your SEO efforts won’t amount to much if a site isn’t understandable. To achieve this, you need to implement smooth user functionality with a design that loads cleanly and flows well. Then, use plain language and make content accessible to translators and screen readers. By focusing on comprehension, you can elevate SEO factors like:

  • Website authority
  • User experience 

Robustness

Finally, an accessible site is a robust one. This means developing web pages that are compatible with all kinds of assistive tech and mobile platforms. People these days increasingly conduct searches from their mobile phones or on smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa. To accommodate these audiences, you need a site that can coherently adapt to any digital environment.

This means optimizing for versatility on mobile devices, formatting your content, and organizing the technical back-end side of things. Your digital sales strategy can improve by focusing on accessible content this way. Additionally, you’ll boost important SEO metrics like:

  • Structured data
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Optimized content

Building More Accessible, Findable Sites

No matter what kind of business you run, launching and operating a website will be a necessity. To build a good one that reaches your intended audience, you’ll need to consider web accessibility. This means making sure your platform is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. 

Focus on the WCAG guidelines and put yourself in the perspective of all your users. From here, you can organically evolve a better way of optimizing your site for search engines. 

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