How to Improve Website Accessibility & Increase Discoverability
Have you ever found yourself struggling over the fine details of making your website optimized for search engines? You may be encouraged by the fact that many of your efforts are also making your website accessible for prospects, customers, employees and/or potential investors with vision impairments or other disabilities.
You may have heard about Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) or in Ontario, Canada the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act. (AODA). Many of the things that you need to do to comply with AODA also will help you with SEO values including:
- Alt tags on images that have contextual importance to your site. Alt tags are read by screen readers and
- Quality site code and internal linking that is logical and helps indexing spiders and users that have challenges using traditional pointing devices.
- Post, page and social media content which is well written, is made up of short paragraphs and language that is conversational
- Page URL’s, headings and titles that are easy to read and website text/background text makes content easily readable.
- Responsive websites that can be viewed on a variety of devices
- Describe links with context instead of just “click here”
- Offer video/audio content and, if possible have text transcripts of the A/V content
- Have pages that can be navigated with a keyboard, offer font size controls and/or zoom capabilities
If you would like a secure, fast way to check whether or not your site is AODA/WCAG compliant, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has a free, comprehensive analysis tool for AODA compliance as well as other criteria directly related to web presence optimization including social media integration,website “freshness” and are backlinked from trusted, ethical sites with diverse anchor text.
Investment of time, money, and energy into SEO and a fresh, modern web presence pays off in more ways than discoverability. Such as:
- Having a website that is easily readable can pay off. Often contrast and visual flexibility resonates in industries such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals and financial services where websites provide a great deal of detail, and often serve an aging population.
- Writing content which is free of jargon and shows your domain expertise in a way that is easily understood helps to make your content share worthy and develops your online authority and reputation.
- YouTube videos, audio and media such as infographics serve a variety of audiences. They are popular with milennials, the elderly and most digital enthusiasts. They are also highly share-able and have high SEO value.
- Websites with simple navigation and sound link structure are good for people that need specialized pointing devices, and search engine indexing bots like them too.
- Popular content management software platforms like WordPress offer structure and function for alt text and meta descriptions and image support that are WCAG 2.0 and AODA compliant. Websites supporting multiple browser platforms, are responsive or support form assisting functions are not only helpful to those with no physical/mental challenges but also those who require assistive devices and software to consume web content.
In Ontario, individuals and businesses can be fined between fifty to one-hundred thousand dollars per day for non-compliance. There are other countries and regions that levy fines or are considering doing so for non-compliance to WCAG 2.0 or related regulations such as Section 508 in the United States. By adopting tools that provide analysis of these factors, impacting both SEO and regulatory standards/legislation; businesses can increase the return on investment in your content marketing efforts over the long term.