How to Improve Your Site’s Accessibility for SEO

Related Articles

Improving your site’s accessibility not only ensures that it is usable by a broader audience, including individuals with disabilities, but it also positively impacts your search engine optimization (SEO). Accessible websites are often more user-friendly and easier for search engines to crawl and index, leading to better rankings and increased traffic. This guide provides actionable steps to enhance your site’s accessibility and boost its SEO performance.

Understanding Accessibility and SEO

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility means designing and developing websites so that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web effectively. This includes individuals with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.

Importance of Accessibility for SEO

  1. Improved User Experience: Accessible sites provide a better experience for all users, which can lead to higher engagement and lower bounce rates.
  2. Better Search Engine Crawling: Search engines use algorithms to crawl and index content. Accessible sites are often easier for search engines to understand, leading to better rankings.
  3. Compliance with Regulations: Ensuring your site is accessible helps you comply with legal requirements such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
  4. Expanded Audience: By making your site accessible, you reach a wider audience, including people with disabilities who might otherwise be unable to use your site.

Key Steps to Improve Accessibility

1. Use Descriptive Alt Text for Images

Alt text describes the content of an image to users who cannot see it. This is crucial for screen readers and also helps search engines understand the image content.

Best Practices:

  • Be Descriptive: Clearly describe the image content.
  • Include Keywords: Naturally include relevant keywords where appropriate.
  • Keep It Concise: Aim for 125 characters or less.



Copy code

<img src=”example.jpg” alt=”Woman using a laptop for online shopping”>


2. Implement Keyboard Navigation

Ensure that all interactive elements on your site, such as links, buttons, and form fields, can be accessed and used with a keyboard. This is essential for users who cannot use a mouse.

Best Practices:

  • Focus Indicators: Use visible focus indicators to show which element is currently selected.
  • Tab Order: Ensure a logical tab order through interactive elements.
  • Skip Navigation: Provide a “skip to content” link for users to bypass repetitive navigation.

3. Use Accessible Forms

Forms should be easy to navigate and understand for all users, including those using screen readers.

Best Practices:

  • Label Elements: Use labels to clearly identify form fields.
  • Error Messages: Provide clear and specific error messages.
  • Fieldsets and Legends: Group related fields using fieldsets and legends for context.



Copy code


  <label for=”name”>Name:</label>

  <input type=”text” id=”name” name=”name”>

  <label for=”email”>Email:</label>

  <input type=”email” id=”email” name=”email”>

  <button type=”submit”>Submit</button>



4. Ensure Proper Use of HTML Tags

Using semantic HTML tags helps screen readers and search engines understand the structure and content of your site.

Best Practices:

  • Headings: Use heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to structure content hierarchically.
  • Lists: Use ordered and unordered lists for grouped items.
  • Landmark Roles: Use HTML5 elements like <nav>, <main>, <article>, and <footer> to define page regions.

5. Provide Text Transcripts and Captions

For audio and video content, provide text transcripts and captions to make the content accessible to users with hearing impairments and to enhance SEO.

Best Practices:

  • Transcripts: Provide a text version of spoken content.
  • Captions: Synchronize text captions with audio and video.

6. Use ARIA Landmarks and Roles

ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) landmarks and roles help improve accessibility for users who rely on assistive technologies.

Best Practices:

  • Landmarks: Define key page areas with ARIA landmarks, such as role=”banner” for headers and role=”navigation” for menus.
  • Roles: Assign roles to dynamic content and widgets.



Copy code

<nav role=”navigation”>

  <!– Navigation links –>


<main role=”main”>

  <!– Main content –>



7. Optimize Color Contrast

Ensure sufficient contrast between text and background colors to improve readability for users with visual impairments.

Best Practices:

  • Contrast Ratio: Aim for a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text.
  • Use Tools: Use online tools like the WebAIM Contrast Checker to test color combinations.

8. Implement Responsive Design

Ensure your website is accessible and usable on all devices and screen sizes.

Best Practices:

  • Viewport Meta Tag: Use the viewport meta tag to control layout on mobile browsers.
  • Flexible Layouts: Use CSS media queries to create flexible, responsive layouts.
  • Touch-Friendly: Ensure touch targets are large enough and spaced adequately for touch interaction.

9. Provide Clear and Consistent Navigation

Clear and consistent navigation helps all users find content easily and improves the overall user experience.

Best Practices:

  • Consistent Menus: Use consistent navigation menus across all pages.
  • Breadcrumbs: Implement breadcrumbs to help users understand their location within the site hierarchy.
  • Search Functionality: Provide a search bar for easy access to site content.

10. Regularly Test Accessibility

Regular testing ensures ongoing compliance and usability improvements.

Best Practices:

  • Automated Tools: Use tools like WAVE, Axe, and Lighthouse for automated accessibility testing.
  • Manual Testing: Conduct manual testing with keyboard navigation and screen readers.
  • User Testing: Involve users with disabilities in usability testing to identify and address real-world issues.

Improving your site’s accessibility not only makes your content available to a broader audience but also enhances your SEO performance. By following best practices such as using descriptive alt text, implementing keyboard navigation, optimizing forms, using semantic HTML, providing text transcripts, and ensuring proper color contrast, you can create a more accessible and user-friendly website. Regular testing and updates will help maintain and improve accessibility over time, ensuring compliance with guidelines and delivering a better experience for all users.