Is SEO a Ranking Factor?
Accessibility is often overlooked by e-commerce merchants focused on sales and traffic. While the benefits of SEO are obvious, accessibility may not seem as obvious.
The Internet should be accessible to all and inclusive; ignoring accessibility is a waste of time. Having customers get to a website they are unable to navigate and then leave without making a purchase is a waste of opportunity.
There is a 72% abandonment rate among disabled customers if a website doesn't have accessibility. And considering that the disabled population alone in the UK represents around £249 billion a year, this isn't something to ignore.
Furthermore, some aspects of accessibility can positively influence your SEO ranking.
What is the impact of accessibility on ranking?
It is not a priority for Google to include accessibility in its ranking system as an explicit ranking factor, but he wouldn't rule it out in the future. Aside from SEO, he argued many of the components of accessibility make websites more popular on their own.
It can be difficult to keep up with search engine algorithms. However, updates are usually made in an effort to improve user experience and penalize spam.
Accessibility techniques tend to encourage clearer, more informative alt text, and to avoid the unnatural repetition and keyword stuffing that are typical of SEO cheats. This means that websites with clear, accessible content will benefit greatly as algorithms increasingly outlaw low quality tactics. In addition, accessibility improves SEO, making it easier for users to use.
Search engine optimization vs. accessibility
As with search engine crawlers, screen readers read and interpret the code in a website to establish the framework and context of its content on the page. Web accessibility and SEO operate essentially in the same way. By reading aloud to the user, screen readers enable visually impaired Internet users to access the site while crawlers use this information to rank the website in search engine results.
In some cases, implementing strategies for one can inadvertently negatively impact the other, but the good news is that there are many areas of web accessibility which, if used correctly, will benefit your SEO equally.
Accessibility and SEO overlap
Below are some areas where your website can be improved both in terms of SEO and accessibility.
Image alt text and captions
Screen readers can't describe images without alternative text, so visually impaired users can't access them. Alternative text is "the first principle of web accessibility" (WebAIM).
In addition to being important for SEO, alt text also allows crawlers to understand the image. Accordingly, well-written, descriptive alt text can serve both purposes.
Video captions and transcripts
Due to faster page loading speeds, videos are becoming more popular, creating a barrier for hard-of-hearing users. However, majority of social network videos are viewed on mute.
You can only guarantee viewers hear your message if you use clear, in-frame text. As crawlers cannot read video content themselves, they rely on a full transcript in order to determine the video's nature in order to rank it, another accessibility requirement.
Clear site structure
Your site can be crawled more efficiently by search engines and screen readers with the help of a sitemap and table of contents. Having clear navigation and page structure makes your site easier to understand, and breadcrumb navigation increases the "findability" of individual pages within your website.
In addition, the page title and heading title should be descriptive but brief. The context of the page is determined by the title of each page and heading.
Descriptive link text
The URL alone does not always explain the link destination to crawlers or readers, especially when a button is simply labeled "click here".
It is better to describe what a link is linking to in its link text, removing any ambiguity and helping search engines categorize it. As visual impaired users cannot rely on other visual indicators on the page, this information is crucial for them to know whether to follow a link.
Accessible sites are a win for all
The goal of every web developer should be to make the internet accessible to everyone. An inclusive, intuitive web is beneficial to everyone.
Using loopholes and cheats to boost ranking is a short-term solution. But, in the long run, building a clear, accessible structure for your site will lead to fewer bounces and a boost in conversions.
Got questions? Visit us @ www.sirkle.com and we’re happy to help.