The impact of Web Accessibility on SEO

As the world makes compelling advances in significant investments to build an inclusive economy, the current and rapid technological innovation advancements have occupied a monumental space. 

According to the market research company Next Move Strategy Consulting, in 2021, the value of the disabled and elderly assistive technologies global market was valued at US$26.5 billion and was forecast to increase to nearly $50 billion by 2030. 

Progressing on digital inclusivity is a task that should be on all of our lists. With 1.6 billion disabled people globally, representing one in every six of us, it should be quite evident why we should optimise our website for assistive technologies. They provide the opportunity to enable disabled people to run daily tasks like anyone else by increasing their independence; you may think of them as a digital crutch. 

There are various impairments, such as visual, hearing, cognitive, neurological, and motor. To cater to these disabilities, there are numerous assistive technologies such as screen readers, screen magnifying software, large print and tactile boards, navigation assistance and wearable technology for the visually impaired, just to mention a few. 

The list of digital inclusivity assistive technologies is increasing daily, as is the demand. The objective is to create or modify websites that can support these assistive technologies to achieve a satisfactory level of accessibility, not only for inclusion but to increase SEO visibility and to be in the search engines, particularly Google’s, good graces., a leading web accessibility knowledge centre, published the results from their study Does Web Accessibility Have a Positive Impact on SEO? A Data-Driven Study. The study found that websites that are fully compliant with web accessibility guidelines have a higher chance of ranking well in search engine results. The research team analysed the data of 847 websites before and after they became accessible and compliant and found that organic search traffic tends to grow following accessibility remediation by an average of 12%.

What is Website Accessibility? describes website accessibility as “websites, tools, and technologies [that] are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web and contribute to the web.” 

This includes ensuring that users can read, understand and interact with content regardless of their device or disability. It also involves providing alternative methods for people to access content if they cannot use a mouse or keyboard. 

Website accessibility is important because it ensures that everyone can access digital content regardless of their physical abilities or disabilities. It also ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to interact with digital content, which is increasingly becoming a part of everyday life.

The impact of web accessibility on SEO

These two share a common goal,  to facilitate users to find and navigate through the content that they are searching for. It is not a mystery that Google has begun prioritising User Experience. In Google’s 2022 Page Experience Update, they introduced a new page experience report in Google Search Console wherein owners and users can track and refine their page experience score. This should not be overlooked when considering Google or any other search engine’s ranking factors. 

By default, an inaccessible website does not lead to a positive user experience. It is imperative to improve your core web vitals and analyse whether your site would be prepared for an assistive technology to crawl it as a Google bot would. 

What are some ways to implement web accessibility into an SEO strategy? 

There are several ways that you can implement web accessibility into your SEO digital strategy:

  • Website Design: this is of utmost importance as it defines the journey of a user along with the usability experience. Pay attention to the font size, type, contrast, colours and spacing, as they can make quite a difference.
  • ALT text for images: you can define these in your image settings to facilitate the disabled user’s understanding of what image is being portrayed to describe and/or complement a block of text. Using a descriptive sentence, including one’s priority keyword, allows search engines to define the content of the image. 
  • Title Tags: these provide both users and search engines with a summary of what a page is about – using unique, descriptive title tags including your focus keywords.
  • Metadata: this also provides the user and search engines with information regarding the content of the page. These include a meta title, metadata, canonical and robot tags. 
  • Readability: As mentioned above, spacing is important to provide the user with clear readability; however, take the following into consideration as well: concise content and simple language – this could increase your rankings.
  • Headings: consider this a fancy word for titles and subtitles; these provide a structure and hierarchy to each page hence facilitating the understanding of the on-page content.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: In 2023, mobile devices accounted for 49.78% of all web visits, according to Stat Counter. Mobiles are easier to use for certain people with disabilities, and if you improve your mobile-friendliness, search engines will most likely reward you for it. 
  • Video and Transcripts: adding captions makes content more accessible to search engines and disabled users.
  • Breadcrumbs: These indicate your location within a website hierarchy; think of them as pages, subpages and categories. These allow disabled users to understand where they are navigating and search engines to understand the hierarchy.
  • Anchor text: This is a visible text that links to another page within the website or another external website. It adds value to the user, allowing them to move on to relevant content they want more information about. This one is particularly useful to search engines as the anchor text hints at the content on the linked page and gives search engines an overlook of pages and websites.

So, why implement website accessibility into your SEO strategy?

Web accessibility is becoming increasingly important for search engine rankings. As Google and other search engines continue to prioritise user experience, they are taking into account the accessibility of websites when indexing them. This means that websites which are more accessible to users with disabilities or different devices will be ranked higher in search results. With this in mind, it is clear that it could soon have a much broader impact on rankings for Google and other search engines. Not to mention that implementing it on your website will enable you to reach a wider audience, and the likelihood of gaining their loyalty is significantly high.

You don’t have to take our word on the increasing demand for web accessibility, see below the monthly user searches for website accessibility related terms:

Relevance is a leading luxury digital marketing agency that specialises in targeting UHNWIs for the world’s most ultra-luxurious brands. If you need an SEO strategy that also considers web accessibility, then contact our team today.

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