Web Accessibility – What Does it Mean and Why is it Important?

You may have heard the term “web accessibility” around the internet lately. But what does “web accessibility” mean, and is it important for SEO? In this article, we’ll break down exactly what web accessibility is, how to optimize a website for it, and why it’s important for your website’s search engine performance. Let’s get into it!

What is Web Accessibility?

The first question on our list is “what is web accessibility.” Well, as with other forms of accessibility, web accessibility refers to optimizing a website for visitors that have special needs. In other words, it is the process of designing a website that is easily digested by anyone who finds their way to it.

Why is Accessibility Important for Websites?

Why is web accessibility important? To get a good understanding of the concept, we should first discuss some figures and statistics. Let’s get started.

Most web accessibility efforts are tailored towards the disabled because they make up a large percentage of web traffic. For example, according to figures released by the Pew Internet Project, 6.8% of the population is sight or hearing impaired, and around 8.2% of the population has difficulty holding a mouse correctly. Therefore, it stands to reason that the more accessible your website is, the more likely your site will garnish traffic from those users.

Generally, people who benefit most from web accessibility are those with eye-related problems, motor skill issues, hearing loss, or epilepsy. So it makes sense to tailor your accessibility optimization techniques to those specific disabilities. However, web accessibility is not only about optimizing your content for the disabled; it is also the process of optimizing your site’s usability for the average visitor.

Is Accessibility Important for SEO?

But what does all that have to do with SEO? Honestly, web accessibility optimization isn’t about designing a web site that performs well in search. It is more about making a website that is useable by anyone who lands on it. However, that doesn’t mean that web accessibility optimization and SEO are mutually exclusive. There is a definite overlap between the two procedures. In fact, optimizing your site for accessibility will most likely improve your performance on search engines. Why? Because an accessible website is a website that answers user queries.

How to Optimize Your Website for Both Web Accessibility and SEO

SEO and web accessibility often go hand in hand. So, optimizing for one often helps optimize for the other. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably have a decent understanding of how to optimize your site for SEO. But that begs the question: How do you optimize your site for accessibility? Let’s break it down.

Optimizing your site for accessibility isn’t as daunting of a process as it seems. Basically, all you have to do is make sure that your site provides the following:

  • Mobile Useability Make sure your website is easily surfed by mobile device users. Every element that appears on the desktop version should also appear on the mobile version. In other words, your website has to be useable on any device being used to access it.
  • Easily Digested Text-Based Content In general, text should be resizeable to 200% without the need of assistance technology. You should also avoid high-contrast color schemes.
  • Accesible Non-Text Content Non-text content refers to any content on your site that isn’t text-based. Things like images and videos are the most common types of non-text content. To make non-text content accessible, you can do things like provide trasnscripts for videos and alt-attribute descriptions for images. Just make sure that your text-representations for non-text content accurately describe the content in question.
  • Consistent and Easy Navigation It should be easy for any user to navigate the pages and posts on your website. Every website should also be navigateable using only a keyboard.
  • Clearly Definied Language Every website should have a language clearly definied in HTML for every page on the site. Declaring a language in code helps screen readers and translation software make sense of your content.

If your website ticks all of those previously mentioned boxes, then your site is most likely well-optimized for accessibility. However, accessibility standards are constantly changing. So, there is no guarantee that your previously compliant website is still considered to be fully accessible. In light of that fact, your best bet is to optimize for accessibility continuously. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a list of standards that you should adhere to. In fact, there is a list of them called the WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) that you can find here.

If web accessibility optimization feels too daunting, then you can always hire the SEO professionals at Contractor Advertising to do it for you.