Section 2 - Accessibility in practice


Reap SEO bonuses by making your website accessible

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Best practices for SEO and web accessibility have many overlaps, and with a little consideration, you can make your website more searchable and more accessible without doubling your work. Search engines are, in a sense, blind, as they cannot "see" images, video content, and JavaScript. The ability to have web page content interpreted and rendered mechanically is therefore of great importance to both search engines and users of assistive technologies. Improve the inclusiveness of your web pages and boost your SEO at the same time by incorporating the following accessibility best practices into your SEO efforts:

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.

Example of bad links such as "click here" and "read more"
Example of a good link such as "Read more about SEO and web accessibility in this blog"

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.