How Writing for Accessibility Improves Your SEO
Many factors impact the way readers find content online, but a significant portion of traffic on most websites comes from search engines like Google. As a writer, there are several things to consider when creating SEO-friendly content, including making it accessible to all your potential readers.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility on the web means removing barriers so that people with disabilities, such as visual or audio impairments, can read and understand your site with full functionality.
Why accessibility affects SEO
Content that is inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities will rank higher in search engines. This is because many of the actions you can take to improve a site’s accessibility are also good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), such as adding alternative text for images and creating a logical site structure with heading tags. Plus, more and more people are surfing the web with accessibility tools. As this number continues to grow, search engines will increasingly consider accessibility as a ranking factor for search results.
SEO is more than keywords
Before I dive in, a (very) quick definition to bring everyone to speed: SEO, on the most basic level, refers to a set of actions you can take to help your website rank higher in Google and other search engines. These include placing relevant keywords in your site’s text, giving every web page a unique H1, title and description, and much more. (For a comprehensive overview, check out our article: FAQs about SEO.)
As writers, we have an important role to play. Content is one of the most significant factors that Google uses to understand what a site is about and when to place it in search results. Our work as writers impacts how well Google and users are able to understand our website and business.
Today, accessibility is also part of the SEO puzzle.
Why you should consider accessibility
According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), “Accessibility supports social inclusion for people with disabilities as well as others, such as older people, people in rural areas, and people in developing countries.”
The number of people in the United States who have a disability is rising every year. Recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that 1 in 4 US adults has some sort of disability, including:
Cognition (serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions)
Hearing (serious difficulty hearing)
Vision (serious difficulty seeing)
So, what does that mean for your writing?
To start, you should always avoid technical terminology and unnecessary jargon, such as “APIs” or “boondoggle.” Also, be sure to spell out any acronym on its first reference and avoid abbreviations (for example, spell out the word “Chapter,” instead of writing just “Ch.”).
Next, consider how your content will appear on the site once it's posted, including the font size, color scheme and page layout. As online writers, we know that the content we see on our working document is often much different than what appears on a live site. When writing for accessibility, font size and color play an important role.
To make sure your text is accessible to everyone once it’s posted, you need to consider a variety of things, including:
Alt tags on images - Adding accurate and helpful alt tags for images is crucial for individuals with visual impairments. Bonus: Alt text also helps Google understand your image and it’s great for SEO.
Font type and size - Sans Serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica are best. You should also check the design to ensure there are consistent font sizes on a page.
Video Captions- Always include closed captions in your videos for individuals with audio impairments. Like alt text, this is also great for helping search engines understand what your site is all about.
Font Color - The color of your content and the site’s background must have a high contrast ratio. For example, if a site background is black, use a light font color like white instead of something dark. (And as a writer, don’t be shy to advocate for your readers when it comes to design.)
Spacing - Make sure there is enough spacing between words and paragraphs, as well as individual elements on a page. (This is a great idea for all your readers, since good content hierarchy helps users understand your message and know exactly how to read the information on the page.)
How SEO and accessibility work together
The good news is that when you make your site more accessible, you’re more likely to rank high on Google. That’s because many of Google’s basic guidelines for SEO and accessibility overlap.
On Wix websites, the SEO Wiz will help walk you through the process of getting your site optimized. While it doesn’t explicitly identify ways to make your site more accessible, Google and screen readers crawl websites in almost the same way, meaning SEO improvements almost always impact accessibility. (Plus, we've put together a useful page explaining exactly how to create an accessible website on Wix.)
There are also several sites that measure how accessible your site currently is and suggest ways to improve. WAVE, for example, will identify each individual element on a web page and provide suggestions related to color contrast, site structure and much more.
Make your writing accessible online
As a writer, you can make a significant difference. With a little bit of planning and the right know-how, you can ensure your content is accessible for people with disabilities. In addition, your SEO will likely improve and you will be able to attract more readers. What could be better?
SEO is constantly changing and it’s impossible to know what will work in the future. But making your site accessible for people with disabilities is an obvious choice. Here at Wix, we are working hard to make our sites more inclusive and we'll be releasing a new accessibility tool in the near future. Stay tuned!
Want to learn more? See why SEO is a writer’s best friend.
Jeremy Hoover, Marketing Writer at Wix