Section 2 - Accessibility in practice
Reap SEO bonuses by making your website accessible
1. Pages that clearly communicate their topic
The page title is the most important on-page SEO element. Therefore, the page title should describe the page content accurately, include relevant keywords, and be unique for every page. At the same time, the page title is the first thing a screen reader renders to the user. For this reason, it is important that the page title provides a good description of what is expected from the page content.
2. Content that is structured in a reader-friendly way
Headings must be real headings with tags—and not just styled to look like one—in order for search engines to recognize them as headings. Every page must have one H1 heading (the most important heading) where important keywords should be included. To make the page more readable, you can divide it into sub sections with H2 subheadings, ideally including important keywords as well. This makes it easier for both search engines and people using assistive technology to get an overview of your web page.
3. Informative images
Alternative texts, or alt texts, were originally created to provide a text alternative to users that are unable to see an image, whether due to poor internet connection that fails to load an image or if a person is blind. Search engines use the alternative text to understand what the image is showing and what its function is. Therefore, an alt text must concisely describe the contents of an image. Make sure to include important keywords, but only if it makes sense in the context of the image.
4. Meaningful links
A link text, or anchor text, should clearly describe the page that it is linking to. Generic texts such as “Click here” and “Read more” do not provide any information to the search engine or the user about the destination page. The same applies to users of screen readers when they try to get an overview of a web page. Often, they may pull out a list of links on a page or tab between links, so it is important that the link text makes sense when read out of its context.
5. Easy navigation
If you refer the user to a certain area or element on a web page, make sure you do it in a way that enables all users to find it. A screen reader renders content to the user in one long sequence. In other words, there are no design or columns when a user of screen reader receives content, which is why you should avoid stand-alone sensory instructions. For example, avoid saying: “You can find more information in the box to your right.” Instead, combine it with some text saying: “You can find more information in the box to your right with the heading ‘Information about…’” Search engines also do not understand sensory characteristics, so you aren’t gaining anything by saying “in the box to your right.” Instead use informative search terms explaining what you are referring to.