Why Website Accessibility Counts

Building accessible websites doesn’t just help out your visitors – it’s becoming an increasingly significant factor for organic rankings, as well as a potential way to decrease PPC costs and improve your profits. 

In this blog, we’re exploring what digital accessibility means, why it’s becoming so crucial for modern businesses, and how it can benefit you.

But what do we really mean when we talk about website accessibility? The specifics vary dramatically from case to case, but accessibility is all about ensuring that anyone visiting your site can engage with the content without any unnecessary difficulties.

The complexities of web design can make accessibility a more challenging goal than it may appear at first. For example, a screen reader (a program designed to help the visually impaired read digital text) isn’t necessarily going to process the text on your site in the way it’s meant to be read. 

They’re often completely unable to process text created via JavaScript and rarely interpret the text in images. Given how visually busy and script intense modern sites tend to be, those who rely on screen readers may end up entirely unable to use your website, cutting off a sizable part of your potential audience.

Website Accessibility and Organic Performance

Whether it’s Google, Bing, or any other, major search engines are constantly updating their ranking factors to give their users the best possible experience. While there’s no way to build a complete list of these factors, there’s little doubt that certain optimizations for accessibility are considered in the algorithm.

On some levels, this is a natural result of how search engines operate, rather than a specific consideration for accessibility. Search engine crawlers tend to interpret site content in the same way that screen readers do, with JS-created text and awkward design potentially creating real problems for your SEO performance.

That’s not where the story ends, though. Accessibility is becoming a more and more important consideration, both online and offline. As this continues to develop, expect search engines to weight accessibility factors a lot more heavily in their organic ranking and PPC Quality Score algorithms.

Don’t let this take you by surprise. Improving your website’s accessibility will help your potential customers today, and it’s going to save you a lot of trouble in the near future. 

Improving Website Accessibility

It’s a lot easier than you might think to get started with accessible design. There are many programs and options out there to show you how your site currently looks when various accessibility factors are in play.

Inside the Developer Tools menus for browsers like Chrome and Firefox, you’ll find several preview options, letting you approximate how the visually impaired will see your site. In some cases, this can be a remarkably effective way to notice and resolve display issues across your site, particularly for visually rich content.  

Screen readers require a little more attention, with most software options coming with a price tag. That said, there are several free options worth exploring. Disability tech advocates AbilityNet have put together a great selection of screen reader options, including several free choices.

Take some time to explore one or more of these options and resolve any issues they indicate for your site, and you’ll likely start to see real improvements for your accessibility and SEO performance.

Alongside these preview options, it’s worth exploring Google’s Lighthouse audit option. This handy tool evaluates your site’s accessibility, giving you useful action points. 

While some of these may seem minor, the fact that Google includes them in their audits means that they’re almost certainly going to be focusing on them as ranking factors in the future, so don’t miss out! 

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