SEO & Accessibility: Technical Components

Marketers everywhere are consistently seeking that sweet spot between developing a website that maximizes the user experience, is ADA accessible, and that capitalizes in search engine optimization techniques.

One of the largest hot topics is ADA accessible compliance. Accessible compliance means that meets the requirements stated in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 is pretty clear what is needed to be done, but WCAG 2.0 can be a bit challenging… There are three levels of compliance – each varying in complexity of development/coding responsibilities. Their web guidelines even recommend that web editors don’t conform to the lowest level “because it is not possible to satisfy all Level AAA Success Criteria for some content”. That being said, following the WCAG 2.0 Level A and Section 508 web guidelines will be a good first step towards making sure your website is usable by everyone.

Below is a checklist to help ensure  the technical/coding side of a website has a solid foundation. Improving each one of these topics has the benefit of adding to your website’s accessibility, usability, and ranking in search engine optimization. A great opportunity to hit three birds with one stone!

URL Structure

Simple and organized URLs make it easier for search engines to read web pages and also make pages more enticing for others to reference.

  • URLs should be dynamically written with relevant words that help define what the page is about
  • Hyphens (-) should be used over underscores(_).

Page Title Tags

A title tag defines the page topic for users and will be the first line of a search engine result. (WCAG 2.4.2 Page Titled – Level A)

  • Every web page should have a short and informative unique title.
  • The <title> tag should be placed within the <head> tag of the HTML document.

META Descriptions

A meta tag defines the page topic for search engines. This is a debatable item to include, but I’m keeping it in per the recommendations of the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

  • Every web page should have a brief and informative unique meta tag with more information than just keywords.
  • Avoid generic descriptions like “this is a web page” or “page about medicine”
  • The <meta name> tag should be placed within the <head> tag of the HTML document.

Color

Make sure that the website is not relying solely on color to be usable. Sufficient contrast is provided when providing important information. (Section 508 C and WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.4)

Uploading Speed

Pages should be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz to reduce the risk of optically-induced seizures. (Section 508 J and WCAG 2.0 Guideline 2.3)

Timing

The user should have control over the timing of content changes if more time is required. This means that slideshows and banner ads should provide a tool to navigate through the images/content. (Section 508 P and WCAG 2.0 Guideline 2.2)

 

Resources:

  1. Google, Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide,  http://goo.gl/ji7N, Last Accessed 3/25/ 2013
  2. Google, Webmaster Tools, URL Structure, http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=76329, Last Accessed 3/25/2013
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Digital Marketing Professional with a knack for branding.

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