Since its inception, the Web was built to be accessible and to work for all people, regardless of their environment. However, as technology has accelerated, the ability for developers to create and publish websites full of visual cues/complexities has produced a large number of websites that are inaccessible for certain demographics. While certain economic factors can play a part in accessing the web, for the most part, web accessibility is focused on serving people suffering from disabilities.
Until recently, the idea that website accessibility and user experience would be heavily factored into search engine algorithms was more a myth than reality. However, when Google’s mission statement reads, “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”, there’s no doubt that accessibility is a priority in their services. Google’s response to meet their call for universal accessibility is to adjust search rankings based on several user experience metrics. Before fully diving into user experience as a ranking signal, it’s important to better understand what web accessibility is.
What Is Website Accessibility
Accessibility is essential for web developers and organizations that want to create high-quality websites, and not exclude people from using their products and services. Some people confuse website accessibility with the ability to land on a website rather than the user experience of it. In other words, by making your website accessible, you will be able to serve 100% of the traffic you receive.
For those without any major disability, it is easy to take for granted how many abilities are needed to use the web. As a result, the US Government has several laws that work to enforce web accessibility standards. Despite these laws and regulations, the majority of the web still presents barriers to accessibility for disabled users. Below are just a few examples:
- Visual Cues and Images
- Text content that cannot be delivered in audio
- The ability to scroll and click on links/menu items
Therefore, in order for your website to be fully accessible, the user experience must be functional for those with visual, auditory, and mechanical disabilities.
Why Web Accessibility Is (going to be) Important for SEO
Google, and other search engines, have historically crawled and ranked websites based on text content and authority signals as primary factors. As we move into the 2020s, Google has made an effort to not only include, but to make user experience a major ranking factor via Web Vitals.
“Optimizing for quality of user experience is key to the long-term success of any site on the web. Whether you’re a business owner, marketer, or developer, Web Vitals can help you quantify the experience of your site and identify opportunities to improve.”
While the Web Vitals resources that Google provides works to help guide developers in creating a user experience in line with accessibility, it doesn’t provide a true ‘solution’. At the very least, Google makes it abundantly clear that developing websites that provide high-quality user experience will be rewarded with increased search engine rankings. Websites that struggle to be accessible and provide this quality experience will see a drop-off in their website’s visibility on Google Search. With Google being the driver in search engine services, it’s fair to assume that other major search engines, like Bing and other rumored search engines, will work to integrate user experience into their ranking factors.
How to Make Your Website Accessible
Websites need to be correctly built from the ground up to be fully accessible based on different ADA standards. For public/government organizations, this is essential to prevent legal actions. For smaller sites, there are still solutions that can help with providing the different functionalities needed to be compliant under the ADA.
ASTOUNDZ has experience working with both public and private organizations needing compliant websites. Whether you’re needing a new site or converting an already published site to be accessible under current standards, our team of developers can help you. Reach out to us today.