Are your website’s titles and tags accessible? Website accessibility is on the forefront of everyone’s minds recently in regards to plug-ins and navigation, but many fail to realize that SEO tactics must conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as well.
SEO practices like keyword stuffing or making multiple H1 headers have become industry standard to help get your website found in search engines, but are are not necessarily making your website accessible to users of all abilities, education, and devices.
That doesn’t mean SEO and Accessibility have to be at odds. In fact, strategizing your SEO tactics with accessibility in mind works hand in hand, improving your customer experience and can even boost your search engine rankings. Here’s a brief overview of how you can make your SEO Titles/Tags more WCAG compliant:
SEO experts know the Title Tag as the key attribute in determining your display title in search engine results. A well-crafted Title Tag can not only boost your search engine rankings by using relevant keywords, but also convince search visitors to click on your site with an attractive title.
For this reason, it has become industry practice to stuff the Title Tag with keywords or use vague marketing language to achieve a high search engine ranking and click-through-rate.
What you may not know is that the Title Tag has ulterior uses outside of SEO. In fact, the Title Tag is used by screen readers to assist users with visual impairments in moving between pages on your website. Therefore, it’s crucial that your Title Tag accurately reflects the content of your webpage with an informative and succinct title.
Titles with copious keywords like “SEO Help Search Engine Optimization Search Engine Best Practices” are clunky and confusing, while titles with vague marketing language like “You’ll Never Believe This Super Secret SEO Tip” doesn’t accurately define the content of a page. While these tactics may work in search engines, they fail in assisting website visitors using screen readers from confidently navigating your site. A more apt title would be “SEO Best Practices for Titles & Tags: What You Need to Know”—clear and informative while still utilizing relevant keywords.
In SEO, we place a lot of attention on the H1 tag. The H1 tag often indicates the main topic of a webpage and is another opportunity to incorporate relevant keywords for search engines. Often times, SEOs may utilize multiple H1s on a page, by tagging additional text or footers as H1s in order to incorporate more keywords for the SEO benefit.
Similar to Title Tags, these SEO practices can complicate how screen readers navigate a page. Headings (H1-H6) help screen readers define the structure of a page and are utilized by the reader to skip ahead to different areas of the content.
In order for headers to be accessible, they following must be in place:
- You cannot have more than one H1 heading.
- Headers must follow a linear structure. H2s will follow H1s and act as subheaders for the H1. H3s will follow H2s and act as subheaders for the H2. And so forth…
- For Example:
- Headers must clearly define the sections of content. Like Title Tags, their language should accurately reflect the content that follows.
- Headers must be followed by content. You cannot use a Header on it’s own such as for a footer or design element.
The purpose of Alt Text is to accurately describe the visual elements on a page for those website visitors who are visually impaired. Similar to Title Tags, SEOs have taken advantage of these descriptions by making a habit of stuffing Alt Text with keywords to boost search engine rankings.
When writing Alt Text, it’s important to describe an image as accurately and succinctly as possible to avoid confusion and speed up the reading process for screen readers.
An Alt Text packed with keywords like “Slice of Tom’s Diner’s Famous Cherry Pie | Best Pie in New York State | Award Winning Cherry Pie | Best Diners in Upstate New York” is redundant and lengthy for a screen reader to read through, while a short and concise Alt Text like “Slice of Cherry Pie from Tom’s Diner” is descriptive while still utilizing relevant keywords.
On the other hand, if an image is wrapped in a link, it’s required that the alt text of the image describe the link, not the image.
A page’s URL should accurately represent what’s on the page and use the same vocabulary from the Title Tag and H1 for cohesion. Often times, SEOs will use multiple words with the same meaning across metadata to get the most search terms possible, however this may be confusing for those with cognitive disabilities.
For example, a proper URL for a webpage with the Title Tag and H1 including the word “Donate” should be www.mywebsite.com/donate, not www.mywebsite.com/makeacontribution.
The SEO Benefit to Improving Your Website’s Accessibility
Making your website’s titles and tags more accessible is not just about opening your website up to more visitors—it has SEO benefits as well.
Google ranks user experience as one of the key factors of determining search engine rankings. By updating your website and making it accessible to all types of users, visitors to your website will have a better experience, benefiting your user experience score and boosting your search visibility.
For more information on these specific modifications and making your website WCAG 2.1 accessible, be sure to check out the full set of guidelines on W3C’s website.
Need help making your website WCAG 2.1 accessible? Our team of programmers is passionate about making your website accessible to all.