Steve Job joins us from @FootprintDigital to talk all about the importance of accessibility and its relationship to SEO and digital marketing. Show the 🤍!!
Steve’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/SeoYetisteve
So, this week we have a very special guest we have Steven Job, yes you heard that right Steven Job from footprint digital who who I’ve invited to kind of a guest spot on…on the on the channel.
I was struck by his passion for accessibility he himself has autism and I thought why not give him a great platform to kind of introduce himself share his passion for accessibility and in turn educate you guys more on what makes for an accessible website because of course he himself uses these tools on a day-to-day basis so it’s great to hear from someone who actually requires uh…accessible websites and again just sharing that knowledge with you so I hope you enjoy this episode let me know if you want to hear more from Steve or just on the subject of accessibility altogether.
It’s slightly less technical but show them your support leave a like down below if you enjoyed the episode and without further ado here is Steve..
Hi guys my name is Steve job I’m an SEO I have been for nearly 10 years now today I wanted to talk to you about SEO accessibility and why you should give a shit and hopefully by the end of this you can you know you’ve got a few pointers and tips that you can take away and look at your websites and potentially optimize them for people with accessibility needs so who am I and why do I actually care about you know SEO and accessibility well as I said I’ve been doing SEO for about 10 years now and I recently found out and was recently diagnosed I should say with autism so a lot of this speaks to me and my accessibility issues that I have when using websites as well.
So, why do I think SEO and accessibility go hand in hand? well one of the reasons is that Google’s always said that we need to focus on the user um and I look at usability and user you know user experience and accessibility as the same thing accessibility and people with accessibility issues are still users at the end of the day and accessibility issues if you can fix them will make you know users without accessibility issues navigate your site better anyway and from an SEO point of view you know we’re going to be touching on a few basics that a lot of people get wrong.
So, what is accessibility and you know how does it relate to digital marketing? um..I mean first of all when we think of web accessibility most people automatically assume or think of visual impairments and mobility impairments a lot of other disabilities aren’t actually taken into consideration or account but these sorts of things do include neurodiversity so autism, adhd, dyspraxia, dyslexia, epilepsy, ocd, anxiety the list goes on and I always apologize 20 that I haven’t added into the list because I feel like I’m kind of missing people there are cognitive impairments. Hearing loss, hearing issues, color blindness comes under this.
But, obviously these include other situational impairments as well as well as environmental factors so it’s things like limited or slow internet connection, screen glare, a brightly lit room, a broken arm, or broken hands, you know they affect the way you react to the you know and interact with the devices you use their accessibility issues so why should we think about accessibility when optimizing for search engines?
Because I’ll be honest if you’re not physically thinking about the user when you think about SEO then that’s your first step always think about the user accessibility at the end of the day is just user experience.
I mean people with accessibility issues are just users at the end of the day, the other benefits of the fact that having an accessibility website isn’t just for the benefit of people with impairment issues either it allows people to navigate the site better, find what they’re looking for quicker and just generally have a better experience on site.
Do images have file names that explain what the context of the image is? or are the image files named 168523.jpg have you got image tags alt tags explaining what the image is? or do they just say company logo does the alt tag that you plan on using accurately explain the context of the image that you’re looking at the benefit of that is we can still use the keywords that we want.
It’s great for image search rankings we just need to make sure we adequately explain what the image actually is as well best example of that is if the images of a man drinking a coke can, and your keyword is coke, don’t just label the image coke, label it smiling man enjoying an ice cold coke straight away you’ve explained the image you’ve still used your keyword and you’ll get better search rankings out of it.
How does SEO and accessibility actually all tie in together? there’s quite a few things that are really really crucial um and they all kind of tie into basic SEO foundations as well as just basic usability and user experience in general um you know it all kind of starts with page titles.
All SEOs will know page titles we’ve spent hours optimizing them we’ve spent hours tweaking them and they’re crucial for SEO but a lot of people aren’t aware that it’s actually the first element that screen readers will ever see of your site you know the first interaction a visually impaired person will ever have is with your page title so, make it accurate.
Does it even reflect the content you have on that page? it’s you know as I said again it’s just standard good practice at the end of the day but it also helps you create that accessible experience that you’re looking for when they move on to heading structures again you know a good header structure needs to be logical, it needs to describe what the content actually is and what will appear under the header the clearer is the easier it is to understand.
So far so, standard user experience and the good thing is it’s great for anyone um you know anyone that has a potential cognitive impairment but it’s also great for anyone using a screen reader and it’s just great for good usability and scan reading as well you know a good well-defined header structure is essential.
So, next we move on to images and we briefly touched on this a little bit earlier but image alt tags I mean I’m going to touch on them again. Basic web accessibility guidelines state that descriptive alt text should always be used it’s useful for anyone with a visual impairment as I said earlier it’s useful for anyone for slow internet speed, because they can still understand the context behind the image good descriptive alt text also helps search engines key thing to remember search engines physically can’t see what an image is but they can see the image or text and that helps them understand what the images actually are which in turn helps boost your rankings.
So, next we move on to video videos are really really great they help you build links people share them on social media they’re a fantastic bit of marketing, however there was a study carried out by digiday.com and it states that 85% of all Facebook videos are watched without sound how do you capture an audience while still meeting those accessibility issues.
Closed captions we all know what a closed caption is um they you know they still play on videos people can unmute that video if they want to unmute that video, I’ll be entirely honest there’s nothing physically worse than using a screen reader to try and navigate a site only to have a video start playing over the top of what you’re trying to listen to I’ve tried it, I recommend everyone does it you know people that use screen readers can’t physically just move their mouse and look for a play button to hit stop they have to physically listen to their screen reader trying to spot the video tag while also listening to a video play over the top of the thing they’re trying to pay attention to, I mean the general example I give to anyone I work with is install Chromebox on your browser go and find any video on YouTube play it and then go to your favourite website and try and navigate around it it’s next to impossible.
I still haven’t really gotten to the point of what accessibility has to actually do with SEO. I’ll be honest if you think that you might have missed my point a lot of the things that I’ve mentioned so far are generally just good practice that’s it.
How do I know if my site’s accessible? we’ve got google lighthouse um when it first came out accessibility was one of the audits that it checks it will also provide suggestions on fixes which is a brilliant place to start and figure out what you need to resolve but you’ve got screaming frog or any other crawler that exists they can provide error codes, broken links which is always a bad user experience and you can use them to extract all header tags on a page so it can give you a better idea of if your heading structure is well thought out.
Are there any good examples of accessibility autism.org is a fantastic website and what they’ve done is introduced a dimmer switch to their menu, which allows you to switch between various different color schemes again one of those things that you wouldn’t assume but various different color schemes can affect people in different ways um guidedogs.org is a fairly self-explanatory website but I have to mention it because it’s done so well there’s a beep upon image load so you know when the site’s fully loaded without you know being able to physically see the thing um and they’ve put a lot of effort into major tags it’s a fantastic fantastic site to use as a case study or as an example of where to begin.
But, on top of that the reason it’s really important is because big businesses are starting to get behind this you know Morrison’s had quiet hour people are starting to think of accessibility issues outside of the internet um which is another reason as to why you really shouldn’t ignore it anymore so what have we actually covered and learned today um hopefully something but we tried covering SEO accessibility and user experience and how they relate together um and how realistically accessibility is just SEO and user experience with a different name.
I generally hope you found this useful um I hope you’ve taken something away from it to help either build a more accessible website or just something to kind of keep in mind that the next time you want to optimize something.
If you have found this useful or you’ve got any questions or you just don’t want to reach out feel free to reach out to me my name is Steven Job um you can either find me on footprintdigital.com or you can reach out to me on social media on twitter at SEO Yeti Steve um and yeah I’ll hopefully look forward to speaking to you then.