EU Digital Accessibility Rules Might Help Boost SEO
In six months’ time, the European Union’s Web Accessibility Directive is going to take full effect. By introducing good habits in accordance with its guidelines, you’ll not only make your website a more friendly space for people with disabilities, but you’ll help boost your visibility.
According to the rules, public sector websites based in EU member states must be user-friendly to people who are blind, deaf or have other specific disabilities. In terms of deadlines, those websites created before September 2018 must comply by 23 September 2020. Some websites already have to be compliant – so that applies anything created after September 2019.
This has been enshrined in law in the UK, but is only applicable to public sector sites – sites for councils, for example. The full set of guidance is available on the UK Government website. However, the principles that the act sets down should be front of mind for all websites.
One simple change that can have a big impact is adding alt tags to all of your images. By adding descriptions of each image, you can not only help to improve your SEO, but you’ll be helping visually impaired people to make sense of your page. Google reads alt tags to help with its image search, so this could help improve organic search rankings.
However, you’ll need to make sure that any alt tag is true to the image – you can’t just put the same tag for every image in the hope that it’ll help you jump to the top of Google.
Another simple yet effective change you can make is adding subtitles to each of your videos. Considering that so many of us watch videos on silent anyway, adding subtitles can help make your message clearer while ensuring that they can be easily understood by all. However, when creating your subtitles, ensure that they can be easily read if you’re using an in-house style.
Facebook and YouTube can also auto-generate closed captions, which are perfect for impromptu social videos – these can be turned on and off as required. You also have the option of editing these to make sure they’re totally correct.
These small changes can make a big difference, but it’s important to put accessibility front of mind whenever making any big development changes to your website. As we always say – your website’s not for you, it’s for your customers.
Consider who might be using your website and how they might be using it. Plan around their experience, but also think a little wider – how might someone with a screen reader use your website? Could your colour combinations be problematic for someone with a visual impairment? Is your font large enough? By creating something universally accessible, you’re less likely to see people bouncing off in favour of a website that caters better to them – and that’s a win no matter what sector you’re in.