September 5, 2022

It is important to make sure that websites can be used by everyone, regardless of ability or background. This should be a top priority for anyone who works with websites.

Although accessibility is generally the job of designers and developers, SEO work also has a large impact on website accessibility and ease of use for search engines.

Web Accessibility

It ensures all users, regardless of any disability they may have, are able to understand, navigate, and interact with your website.

This includes auditory, cognitive, physical, neurological, and visual. Accessibility also benefits users with temporary impairments, who may not be able to use a standard keyboard or mouse.

Principles of Accessibility

In order to be accessible, a website must meet four principles, known as POUR:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust


This includes making sure your content is easy to access for everyone. This means that websites should be accessible to screen readers by providing text alternatives and a logical structure.


The user interface and navigation are the most important aspects of a website’s operability. The website must be usable for all users on all devices.

This means that you should allow enough time for users to complete any given task.


Users need to be able to understand the information displayed on a webpage, as well as understand the user interface and navigate the site.

This includes having a predictable and consistent navigation.


To be accessible, a website must be able to be used by different technologies and platforms, including screen readers. Furthermore, it must be accessible on all platforms during updates.

Types of Web Accessibility Impairments

Disabilities are not just limited to sight or hearing. There are many different types of disabilities or impairments.

1. VisualWeb Accessibility Matters For SEO

There is a wide range of visual disabilities, from those who experience mild vision loss to those who have moderate vision loss.

These include:

  • Color blindness – arises from the difficulty of distinguishing between colors such as red and green, yellow and blue, and in some cases, the inability to perceive any color.
  • Low vision – which includes blurry vision, the ability to see either the center of the visual field or only the edges of the visual field
  • Blindness – having a substantial to complete loss of vision in both eyes.

2. Auditory

These include mild to moderate hearing impairment. If only part of the audio content is lost, it can still cause problems.

These include:

  • Hard of hearing – moderate hearing impairment
  • Deafness – substantial and uncorrectable hearing impairment in both ears.

3. Physical

Disabilities that are related to weaknesses in muscular control, such as paralysis, lack of coordination, limitations of sensation, and joint disorders such as arthritis, can be classified as physical disabilities.

These include:

  • Arthritis – damage to the joints
  • Amputation – missing limbs, or other parts of the body
  • Paralysis – Loss of control over parts of the body.

4. Speech

This text is discussing the inability to produce speech that is understandable by others or by computer software.

This includes:

  • Muteness – the inability to speak caused due to mental disorders and cognitive impairments
  • Dysarthria – paralysis of the muscles, including lips, throat, tongue required to speak.

5. Cognitive, Learning, and Neurological

These disabilities make it difficult for people to understand and process information.

These include:

  • Autism – impairments of social communication
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – involves difficulty in focusing on a single task or being easily distracted.
  • Mental health disabilities – conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders that may cause difficulty in focusing and processing information
  • Memory impairments – implies short-term memory or limited ability to recall language.

How People With Disabilities Use the Web

People with disabilities may use different types of assistive technology, such as wheelchairs, to help them live independently. AT is a technology designed to help those with disabilities and vision loss.

tools that help people with disabilities to use the internet.

Screen Readers

The screen reader reads the text on the screen out loud using a speech synthesizer or, in some cases, translates it into Braille.

Do you read all the text on your computer screen? Do you pay attention to the advertisements on a page and the recommended and popular posts on the side navigation?

We’re guessing not all of us read them out. We don’t! A great screen reader should offer visually impaired users easy ways to control what is read aloud. You can find strings of text on the screen by reading just a line of text, finding bold text, or reading text in a specific color.

There are many different types of screen readers, some of the most popular ones being COBRA, Hal, and JAWS (Job Access with Speech).

1. Braille Keyboards

A Braille keyboard is a lot different from the standard keyboard most people are used to. The Braille keyboard is designed for people who are blind or have low vision.

There are eight key shapes used to make up the Braille letters. The function keys, the spacebar, and other keys are located around the eight primary keys.

Standard QWERTY keyboards are available with Braille letters overlaid on them. The Braille keyboards help people who are visually impaired to easily find and use the cursor.

2. Screen Magnifiers

This solution is designed to help those who are visually impaired, but not those who are completely blind. There are two types of screen magnifiers: external devices that act as magnifying glasses, and software that you can install.

The best screen magnifiers should ideally increase the size of the information on the screen, while reducing screen glare, improving cursor tracking and contrast.

3.Voice Controls

Want to command the computer with your voice? There are various software tools that can be used to convert speech to text. These tools can be extremely helpful for people who have difficulty typing or who want to be able to avoid having to type out long paragraphs. Although this is not a guaranteed method, it does assist people with disabilities in using the internet in combination with other technological solutions.

A top-rated and feature-rich voice control program is Dragon.

The Intersection of SEO and Accessibility

1. Page Titles

The title of a web page is important for two reasons: it helps the reader understand what the page is about and it is the headline that appears in search results.

Titles not only let users know if the information on a page is relevant to them, but they also help to distinguish between different tabs or pages when multiple are open. When using a screen reader, the user will be able to tell which page they are on by the title that is given.

You can improve your website’s SEO by optimizing your page titles for users instead of trying to stuff them full of keywords for bots. This will also make your site more accessible.

2. Headings

In SEO, the H1 tag is the most important heading, as it provides an overview of the main content on the page. The H2-H6 tags are used to further define the structure of the page.

Just as search engine crawlers use headings to quickly navigate a page and move to a particular section of the content, so do assistive technologies.

Accessibility heading tags should follow SEO best practices by using only one H1 heading, making sure all headings are relevant to the content beneath them, and only using headings if there is content below them.

3. Sitemaps

Sitemaps that are easily accessible on the site are helpful for all users to find the content they are looking for, especially if the site’s navigation is complex. The navigation bar is an important element on a website as it provides an overview of the website’s content and clear access to the important pages on the site.

Sitemaps are beneficial for SEO as they help search engine crawlers discover links to other pages on the website. This is especially useful if the pages are not linked elsewhere on the website.

4. Anchor Text

Web Accessibility Matters For SEO

When creating anchor text, be sure to choose words that accurately describe the page you are linking to. This will help users know what to expect when they click on the link, and it will also help search engines understand the context of the page you are linking to. It can be used to give users an idea of what the destination page is about, and help them decide if they want to click the link to visit it.

When using a screen reader, users typically tab through a page to find links, and the screen reader will announce the anchor text when a link is found. After users input the search term, they will then hit enter. If they think the link will be useful, they will follow it.

Anchor text is the text on a web page that is used by a search engine to help understand the context of the destination page. The link’s location within a sentence is also good for search engine optimization and making the page accessible.

When you’re writing anchor text, make sure that it’s relevant to the page you’re linking to, and that it’s succinct. Don’t just use a generic “Click here” message.

5. Breadcrumb Links

Breadcrumbs can be used as a secondary navigation to help users get back to the original page or top level content. They can also help users trace back the path they took to navigate to the page they are on.

Other than helping search engine crawlers and screen readers understand a site’s structure, breadcrumb links also serve as a helpful navigation tool for users. Internal linking is an important way to improve the navigation on large websites. By linking to other pages on the website, it helps visitors find the information they are looking for more easily.

When creating breadcrumbs for a website, it is important to consider how they will be accessed by all users. For example, breadcrumbs should be placed in the same location on every page of the site.

Descriptive anchor text is important for breadcrumb links so that screen readers can easily tab through them.

6. Alt Text

The image alt text is the most well-known example of where SEO and accessibility intersect. This text provides alternative descriptions of images for people who have visual impairments.

Screen readers read alt text aloud, so it needs to be accurate and relevant, instead of stuffed with keywords to be optimized for bots.

The alternate text (alt text) associated with an image is used to help describe the image to search engine crawlers. This allows the image to be displayed in image search results based on the context of the image.

Search engines have become much better at detecting keyword stuffing in alt text over the last few years, thanks to advances in machine learning.

7. Navigation

The navigation of a website is designed to both direct users to the information they seek and present the most vital pages of the site. Organizing your website in this way is useful for both users and search engine crawlers.

Keyboard and screen reader users can tab to navigation links to read them. When creating a navigation system for your website, only include the most important pages. This will make it more accessible to users.

This can create confusion for all users and also show search engine crawlers that you have a flat site architecture.

8. Readability

It is important that the content on a site is readable and understandable for both users and search engines. One way to help users with cognitive disabilities is to have content with a simplified reading level.

This will also help users who are not native speakers of the website’s language, as well as those who may be reading content while distracted.

To make a website more readable, it is important to use clear language, left-aligned text, and lists.

It is recommended that URLs be easy to read and understand, and that word separators such as dashes be used.

The purpose of a URL is to let users know what they can expect to find when they click on a page, as well as to help search engines understand the context of the page.

9. User Interactions

Although Googlebot is unable to physically click buttons or open accordions, screen readers can be directed to perform these actions by the user.

The amount of physical interaction needed should be reduced.

If you have a drop-down or accordion on your site, make sure that text is still contained within the source code; this will ensure that both bots and screen readers can read the content without having to perform any user interactions.

However, this hidden text must make sense and should be reflective of what is written on the page, rather than relying on old-fashioned, hidden keyword stuffing methods.

You should avoid using a hover action to reveal content unless the hidden content is included in the source code. This is the best practice.

10. Test Accessibility Using Lighthouse Audit

The Lighthouse audit is an easy way to test the accessibility of a page. The Lighthouse tool can be used to improve the quality of web pages. The test can be run against any web page to generate a report detailing the performance, SEO, and accessibility of the page.

This report provides a reference document for each audit that failed, explaining how to fix the failed audits.

About the Author Brian Richards

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