- WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY & SEO, WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
- ACCESSIBLE & SEO DEFINED
- THE LANGUAGE OF SEO HELPS WEBSITES BE ACCESSIBLE
- METADATA & OPTIMIZING IMAGES
- MAKING IT MATCH • TITLE, IMAGE FILE NAME & HEADING TEXT
- SHIFTING PERSPECTIVES ABOUT ACCESSIBILITY & BUILDING COMMUNITY
- BEGIN WITH THREE SMALL STEPS • KEYWORDS, LINKS & PLUGINS
- GRAB MY CHECKLIST
WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY & SEO, WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
Every time we enter a few words in the search bar of our internet browser, we anticipate quickly discovering what we’re looking for, easily, and without barriers. When we visit a website, we expect it to respond quickly as we scan for the information we’re looking for and if we’re using a phone, we expect the content to display well there too. Ultimately, we expect websites and content to be accessible to us.
ACCESSIBLE & SEO DEFINED
Accessibility means more than wheelchair friendly. Being accessible is all about removing barriers and taking steps to be more inclusive for a wide range of needs, including things like web text being dark enough, large enough, and in a clean enough font to be easily readable.
It’s also important to consider how we view those who might stop for a visit, often defined as a user or visitor. What if we considered each person as a guest, put out the welcome mat, and looked at how websites can be more inviting and easier to navigate?
What does accessibility have to do with SEO? And what does SEO mean?
For those who manage a website, those three letters can be intimidating and a cause for anxiety. They are often not well understood, and something we believe we need expert help to implement. Tools like Google Starter Guide can be an intimidating a starting point — and while I am not an expert, I have slowly, step-by-step, been unraveling the mystery of SEO.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Every time we search for something on the internet, a search engine like Google, offers pages of possible answers for those keywords. Before that can happen, however, each website has to provide that information. That process is part of assigning SEO.
THE LANGUAGE OF SEO HELPS WEBSITES BE ACCESSIBLE
SEO is a language Google speaks, but one many of us don’t understand. This barrier begins to shift when we learn the basics, called metadata. Some metadata is assigned to posts and pages without us even being aware of it, but other metadata requires a certain basic understanding to implement.
For both website guests and website providers, growing in accessibility means first broadening our understanding of what accessibility really means.
- Is the website accessible to those with visual impairments?
- Is it easily accessible no matter how guests access it – from a monitor, laptop, tablet, or phone?
- How about the font — is it dark enough? Is it large enough?
- Do posts and webpages load quickly?
- Do they display well on all devices?
- Are videos accessible for those with hearing impairments?
- Are we opening doors for our guests with mini-tours of our websites by adding thoughtful internal links to other posts and pages?
What changes can we make today to make our website more inclusive for a broad range of needs?
METADATA & OPTIMIZING IMAGES
The language of metadata helps us communicate details not only to search engines, but also to screen-readers, and for those who use an audio search like Alexa and Siri.
Another word that might be confusing is optimize. Websites are encouraged to optimize images so that they load quickly. All images are files, and the larger the file size the more time it takes for screens to show them. The more large-image files a website has, the slower the content will show up to a guest. We’re all guilty of moving on or skipping a website if it takes too long for a page to load. Speed can become a barrier too.
IMAGES • A PLACE TO BEGIN
If your website doesn’t currently optimize images, there are website plugins that will.
Best practice is to upload smaller media file sizes using less pixels. Pixels are the tiny dots that make up an image. The more pixels in a photograph, the crisper and more defined it is. We’ve all seen poor-quality or blurry images, but there is a good middle-of-the-road between loading too slowly and losing a visitor, and losing so much quality that it’s blurry and difficult to see.
We currently use a plugin to optimize all of our images, which means they are compressed (minimizing the file size without lowering the quality) when the image is presented to the guest. We upload images with less pixels and smaller file sizes, then the plugin further compresses them so they load quickly.
MAKING IT MATCH
TITLE, IMAGE FILE NAME & HEADING TEXT
- Title – Does the title of a post or page clearly reflect its content? Include 3 to 7 keywords that you might search for in your post and page titles. Be very intentional about these words, because they are your welcome mat. The more thoughtfully you’ve chosen these words, the more likely search engines will pair your content to a potential guest and the more likely the guest will find just what he/she was searching for.
- Post or Page Feature Image – Before uploading, save the file with the same name as the post; this will show up cleanly for readers.
- Alt Tag – Fill in the Alt Tag field with the text that is on the image or the page title if there is not any text. Search engines use both pieces of information to help determine what the post is about. Alt Tags also provide information to screen readers, so those who may not be able to see a picture will know what it’s about.
- Heading Text – Include headings throughout posts and pages. Think of them like an outline. Include your keywords whenever possible. Not only are headings metadata, but they help to break up the text, making it easier to track, and providing valuable information to screen readers.
SHIFTING PERSPECTIVES ABOUT ACCESSIBILITY & BUILDING COMMUNITY
While there is a lot of information about almost everything, each of us communicates with one another, whether searching for information or stewarding a website.
If your church’s website doesn’t look right on a phone screen or loads really slow, do them a favor and let them know. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation.
If you have a visual impairment and your favorite website has a font that is difficult to read, send them a message and let them know.
For those of us who steward a website, let’s look at it through the lenses of our guests. How long does it take your site to load? Ask guests about their experience, then be willing to make one change today.
When we take the time to consider what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes, our own perspectives shift and we have the opportunity to bless, encourage, and build each other up.
BEGIN WITH THREE SMALL STEPS
KEYWORDS, LINKS & PLUGINS
The best place to start is thoughtfully choosing those 3 to 7 keywords, then include them in your title, heading text, and images. These words communicate exactly what our content is to both guests and search engines.
As with any guest, it’s important to show them around to help them be more comfortable. Since our websites have lots of content, a new guest and a returning guest need a little help to discover the rich resources available at his/her fingertips. Adding relevant internal links (posts and pages on your website) will guide guests to related content, making our sites easier to navigate.
Consider adding one plugin for image optimization and a second for SEO.
Chronic Joy recommends Yoast Premium for SEO; the plugin is easy to learn to use and offers online training and helpful newsletters. Most importantly, this plugin reminds you about keywords and helps you add metadata simply by following the guide that pops up on every post and page. The more suggestions you follow, the faster you will grow in your understanding of SEO.
We also recommend a plugin by WPMU DEV (Smush Pro) to optimize images. It is effective and offers both monthly and yearly pricing.
Make small changes, one by one.
GRAB MY CHECKLIST
I’ve created a free, printable check-list. As I learn, practice, and implement, sharing helps add depth to my own understanding, and helps me discover that I still have a lot to learn. We are always better together.
As we discover barriers, let’s work together to break them down!
Blog Post and Page Checklist
Executive Director and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy®
Pamela is the mom of three married children, grandma of four, and wife of more than 30 years. She is diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos, chronic migraines, and a host of other chronic conditions. She enjoys hot tea, reading and walking her teddy bear dog, Cocoa.
You’re Invited to Discover More
Chronic Joy® Access
Opening Doors. Removing Barriers. Accessibility is an invitation to broaden our perspectives, choosing the simple kindness of including one another, opening doors, and removing barriers.