SEO and Accessibility: Content [Series Part 2]

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The writer’s views are solely his or her personal (excluding the unlikely occasion of hypnosis) and might not at all times replicate the views of Moz.

As SEOs, our objective once we’re creating content material is to offer equitable entry, which signifies that content material isn’t simply obtainable to search engines like google and yahoo, but in addition to folks of all skills. In the second installment of his three-part accessibility collection, Cooper exhibits you ways to make sure that your superb content material is accessible by bots AND folks.

Photo of the whiteboard with handwritten notes on how content SEOs can focus on accessibility.

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz followers. Welcome to the newest version of Whiteboard Friday. I am Cooper Hollmaier. I began doing SEO in 2016, and in the present day I labored at a big out of doors specialty retailer serving to make our methods for technical SEO come alive. Thank you for attending this Session 2 of three of our SEO and accessibility collection. 

It all begins with accessibility

If you’ve got taken the intro to SEO course right here at Moz, you are most likely acquainted with the idea referred to as Mozlow’s hierarchy of SEO wants. If you are not, the fundamental concept is that we’ve got to have some foundational parts which might be wanted to make us rank in search engine outcomes, and then we will layer some issues on high to make us extra aggressive in these outcomes.

A pyramid-shaped chart showing how different elements of SEO are graded according to how essential they are. The lower tiers are 'essential to rankings' and the higher tiers 'improve competitiveness'. Bottom tier: Crawl accessibility (so engines can reach and index your content). 2nd tier: Compelling content (that answers the searcher's query). 3rd tier: Keyword optimized (to attract searchers and engines).4th tier: Great user experience (including fast load speed, ease of use, and compelling UI on any device). 5th tier: Share-worthy content (that earns links, citations, and amplification). 6th tier: Title, URL, & description (to draw high CTR in the rankings). Top tier: Snippet/schema markup (to stand out in SERPs).

But all of it begins with crawl accessibility, and in the identical manner it begins with fundamental human accessibility as effectively. Our objective once we’re creating content material is to offer equitable entry. So this implies my content material shouldn’t be solely obtainable to search engines like google and yahoo however folks of all skills as effectively. Let’s take a look at an instance.

Making assumptions about your viewers

Let’s say I am a restaurant. Commonly you will see eating places put up their menu within the home windows of their shops or outlets. Well, the issue with this concept, whereas it appears straightforward as a result of anybody can stroll by, they do not have to take a look at my Facebook or my web site, and they will take a look at the menu, see what they like or don’t love, and then select to interact with my enterprise and take pleasure in my meals.

Hand drawing of a menu with "Ordering Food" written above it.

What’s dangerous about that is that we have made some assumptions about our preferrred viewers. We’ve assumed that they are the typical top and that they are tall sufficient to have the ability to see the menu that I posted in my window. We’ve assumed that they’ve nice imaginative and prescient, that they on a wet day can see the menu gadgets and nonetheless make the choice to return inside. We’ve additionally assumed that by not together with any photos on our menu folks know what we’re speaking about.

They’re acquainted with the delicacies that I am making or the flowery culinary, eloquent culinary language that I am utilizing to explain my dishes. But I believe what you will discover is that these assumptions are unique versus inclusive, and we need to be inclusive of all of our viewers members. So for instance, assume perhaps my particular person shouldn’t be a mean top. How do I account for that?

If they are not the typical top, seeing the menu may be inconceivable. Assume that perhaps they’ve low imaginative and prescient or blindness and ask your self, “Is this available digitally or in a Braille compatible format that they can access, too?” Or perhaps add some photos, add some totally different language to your menu to assist folks perceive the culinary language that you just’re utilizing, as a result of with out that they may not perceive and they may select to keep away from your restaurant versus are available and see it.

Ask “What if?”

Handwritten list of "what if" questions to ask yourself when making assumptions about your audience.

So these are issues you are able to do to imagine the very best and present a various group of individuals a greater expertise. 

Let’s do some math. If you may have 1,000 folks in your restaurant each month, we all know from final time that 1 in 5 folks on common have a incapacity within the United States. That means 200 of these 1,000 folks have a incapacity, and you are excluding them by not together with some info or different mediums to eat your menu.

That compounded as 200 folks instances to illustrate a mean of $15 a meal, that is $three,000 a month you are leaving on the desk fairly actually. So take into consideration that. It’s not nearly offering equitable entry, however it would value your corporation cash too, and $three,000 a month could be very costly, particularly for a small enterprise. I am certain you are saying, “Cooper, what if I’m not a small business? What if I want people to buy my product or give me a lead or come sign up for my service?”

Hand drawing of different content mediums to use for people of different abilities, including podcasts, emails, and videos.

That’s okay. These guidelines apply to you too. It’s the mindset. If you may have a podcast, an e mail publication, a weblog, a web site, I’d implore you to ask the query, “As a person with __________, can I __________?” Fill in that first clean with issues like as an individual with colorblindness, ADHD, dyslexia, exhausting of listening to, Down syndrome, can I and fill in that second clean with no matter you need folks to do at your corporation.

Can I purchase a product? Can I learn this article? Can I take pleasure in this podcast? If the reply to that query, that string of questioning, is not any, you may have a bit little bit of an issue. You have some work to do, proper? 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Handwritten list of WCAG criteria: POUR.

What I am speaking about is following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and these are generally referred to as WCAG or “Wikag.” These pointers are set as much as guarantee that our content material on the net is accessible.

I believe you will discover that as you make your content material accessible for folks of various skills, you are going to have your content material accessible for search engines like google and yahoo of various skills too. So following the 4 rules of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, they’re POUR or “Pour”: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, or Robust, I believe you will discover that your content material resonates higher together with your viewers, you exclude much less viewers members, and your search engine marketing will finally solely be that a lot better.


So what do I imply by perceivable? What I imply by perceivable is all of us do not need to take a look at a brick of textual content. I believe that is fairly clear. We have a tendency to incorporate issues like photos, video, and audio on our pages. What I need you to do is think about any time you are utilizing these wealthy media parts to incorporate a textual content different. So this implies photos, embrace alt textual content. Videos, embrace captions and transcripts.

Audio, identical factor, embrace the transcript so if I am unable to hear that audio with my audio system, I can both convert it into one thing I can use or I can take pleasure in it in another manner. Then once we’re speaking about video, together with an ASL interpreter or changing your presentation into American Sign Language will also be a bit bit extra inclusive for the viewers you are attempting to achieve and prevent a bit little bit of that cash we talked about earlier.


Operable, what I imply by that is: Are your hyperlinks saying “Click Here” or “Learn More,” or are they actually telling me the place I am going as a consumer? Think about your customers right here. We know we love anchor textual content. We know that search engines like google and yahoo like to see the place we’re going too. So “Click Here” and “Learn More” aren’t as descriptive as they could possibly be. They’re not as operable. It’s exhausting for me as a consumer to function your web site or your e mail publication or your podcast.


Is my content material comprehensible? So that is one thing I’ve a tough time doing too generally, however contemplating is the content material that I am writing at a studying stage that my viewers goes to take pleasure in that. Have I described it in a language that my prospects perceive? Oftentimes I believe we get caught in SEO and we begin to use a variety of SEO language, particularly for those who’re working at like an company with shoppers.

Taking the time to interrupt it down into language that is extra comprehensible will can help you resonate with a bigger set of viewers members, but in addition it would permit you usually to seize these search phrases too, proper? People aren’t wanting up PhD stage issues in Google search. They’re wanting up language that we will all perceive, so think about that. 


Then strong, this type of touches issues like: Is my web site cell pleasant? Is it responsive? Are the issues that I am producing suitable with a variety of applied sciences and these applied sciences embrace assistive applied sciences? So POUR, bear in mind these issues when producing internet content material. You should not want a monocle to learn what you are producing. You should not want a PhD to learn what you are producing. It needs to be actually, very easy for a various group of individuals to entry the stuff that you just produce.

If you need some extra details about WCAG, there is a hyperlink proper right here, and will probably be linked within the backside of this put up as effectively. 

What can content material SEOs do?

Handwritten list of seven things SEOs can do to apply accessibility practices in their work.

So what are you able to do as a content material SEO? 

  1. You can write informative and distinctive web page titles. Those web page titles matter for not simply search engines like google and yahoo however folks as effectively and assistive applied sciences. 
  2. You can use headings appropriately. Commonly I am going to see folks use these H tags. You’re most likely acquainted with the H1, however H2, three, four, 5 and 6 matter too to model the web page in a sure manner and make the textual content bolder or brighter or bigger, and that will likely be nice. But as somebody who’s utilizing assistive expertise or somebody who’s attempting to know the parent-child relationships between issues on a web page, it’ll be lots tougher for me to try this if I am not utilizing these headings appropriately.
  3. Links are for customers. One factor I at all times ask myself is, “Is this link on the page for SEO, or is it for my customer?” If the reply is it is simply on the web page for SEO, come again to the desk, work out a technique to make an SEO pleasant strategy to a buyer drawback, and put a hyperlink on the web page that is going to resonate with prospects and additionally assist your SEO. Not only one or the opposite.
  4. Plan for a textual content different. No matter what you are constructing, I am certain it’ll contain some wealthy media. Plan to incorporate captions, transcripts, ASL interpretation in your presentation from day one. 
  5. Over-describe what’s occurring. We know that descriptions are going to assist decide up extra synonyms and extra speaking factors for search engines like google and yahoo as effectively. We know that being extra complete and trustworthy and moral will finally result in a greater SEO final result. It additionally helps folks, regular folks with various skills get that very same final result as effectively. Let them take pleasure in it. Make this about prospects and not simply search engines like google and yahoo, and I believe you will discover that each events win. 
  6. Provide clear directions, so what you need folks to do. Don’t make it exhausting to transform. 
  7. Number 7 is write content material that you just need to learn.

I’d ask you to shut your eyes and take heed to the content material that you’ve got written on the web page and ask your self, “Is this SEO optimized, or is this built in a way that a customer would want to engage with it?” What I need you to attempt to do is strive to determine, “How can I write this piece of content in a way that is just seamless? It’s invisible, and I’ve even optimized this for SEO. It just feels like it’s a normal piece of content that resonates with me.”

Hand drawing of a stick figure holding the hand of a robot. "Helping people + bots."

That’s what you are searching for. The finest SEO is invisible. Help folks and bots. Not simply bots or not simply folks. So concentrate on the Web Accessibility Guidelines. If you need some extra details about WCAG, it is proper there. Next time, we’ll speak about technical SEO and some behind-the-scenes code that may make your web site extra accessible for all.

Thanks for watching.

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