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Accessibility and SEO Advice from the Deaf and Disabled

Over the past few years, discussions around accessibility have grown within the SEO community. Although many professionals and advocates for people with disabilities have long discussed accessibility, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly increased awareness of its significance.

According to a Deque survey and research, 73 percent of accessibility professionals saw an increase in accessibility awareness on digital channels throughout the pandemic. That’s because the pandemic forced more people to engage online, whether it be for work, school, or fun.

As it relates to our work in SEO, we’re in a great position to be part of these efforts as we influence several accessibility-related fields. Many times when we prioritize digital accessibility, it just so happens to also help our SEO efforts.

Immense power now carries great responsibility. We all share ownership and accountability for those components’ accessibility because our SEO advice might have an impact on crucial website components like site structure, user experience, and descriptions. Again, read that.

Another thing to keep in mind is that providing our clients with accessibility-related advice just based on technical crawls, Chrome extensions, or other tools is insufficient. We must be sure to include the very folks we are attempting to help.

Title Tags

Undoubtedly, title tags have a significant SEO impact. When title tags are carefully created and optimized, search engines may be more likely to click through to your website. As the first thing, a screen reader user hears when a website loads, title tags are crucial for accessibility.

Using assistive technology known as screen readers, users who are blind or visually challenged can understand text that is shown on a computer screen, including headings, links, and tags.

“Title tags inform us of the current page and any open pages. According to Nasreen Bhutta, the Chief Communications Officer of Bold Blind Beauty, it’s also beneficial when title tags contain pertinent keywords that accurately represent the topic matter.

“If they are not correctly labeled, we are unsure of what information we will find on the site page. Think of the title tag as being similar to a straightforward, readable headline. A well-written title tag should be simple for the screen reader to read, improving the effectiveness and interest of searches”, Bhutta continued.

Bhutta gave the following advice to SEOs:

  • Title tags must accurately state the subject or goal.
  • The most significant keywords should be at the beginning of a decent title tag.
  • The ideal title tag length is 60 characters, making it succinct.
  • No title tag should be empty.
  • Title tags ought to differ from those on other pages (avoid duplicates).
  • The page’s content should be reflected in the title tags.
  • A confirmation message for an error or success should be mentioned in title tags.
  • If an iframe is being used, the page source must have a pertinent title.
  • The brand should be added after the title tag.

Headings

Another crucial field is headings, which offer the semantic structure for screen readers who use headings as anchors as well as search engine bots.

Headers are used by screen readers to navigate between pages. Consider it to be the same as quickly scanning a page.

To make them stand out from typical body text, headings are always structured differently. They act as levels in an outline by providing visual and semantic information about the structure of a webpage. According to Sarah Hinman Ryan, a former UX program manager, “by employing heading tags instead of style tags and attributes (i.e., font=”Helvetica”), a website’s author enables a screen reader user to understand and navigate the page layout just like a sighted reader would.

Ryan provided the following SEO advice:

  • There should only be one H1 tag per page as a general rule.
  • The top of the main> content element is the ideal location for an H1 tag.
  • The hierarchy and sense of heading should match.
  • It’s not a good idea to skip levels in headings (i.e., do not go from H1 to H5 without anything in between).

Reading page headings to check for logical flow is a test web content writers can put themselves through. Do they match the content they are related to and make sense in the order they are presented in? If not, make adjustments until they are.

Links

Internal and external links can aid in crawling, promotion, and engagement concerning SEO.

Links are used by both users and search engines to navigate the web. Links provide more context for the pages they link to and help to give those pages greater worth.

Link text is essential in terms of accessibility. One explanation is that they are utilized as a jumping-off point to move across a page. If a visitor clicks through, they must make it crystal clear what is on the next page.

Links must stand out from surrounding material in addition to what the link text itself declares. When the text stands out from the background, it is easier to read for color-blind individuals, according to Denis Boudreau, the creator of Inklusiv and director of instructor-led training at Deque Systems.

Boudreau provided some advice for SEOs.

  • The next page’s content should be crystal clear from the anchor text.
  • Links need to be visible and distinct (underline, outline, 3:1 color contrast).
  • The anchor text on the page should stand out from the other anchor texts.
  • On the same page, no two links with the same anchor text should lead to distinct places.
  • All over the website, there should be a uniform pattern of navigational links.
  • Use clear text instead of unclear ones like “click here” and “read more.”
  • When a link takes you to an external website, let people know.

This exercise will demonstrate the value of detailed anchor text to your internal team or clients. Spoiler alert: It emphasizes how difficult it is to infer the topic of the following page only from its anchor text.