Accessibility = Search Optimization

11 comments

With all the excitement of launching a new blog yesterday I completely missed Andy Hagans excellent article for AListApart: High Accessibility Is Effective Search Engine Optimization

Quote:
The goal of accessibility is to make web content accessible to as many people as possible, including those who experience that content under technical, physical, or other constraints. It may be useful to think of search engines as users with substantial constraints: they can’t read text in images, can’t interpret JavaScript or applets, and can’t “view” many other kinds of multimedia content. These are the types of problems that accessibility is supposed to solve in the first place.

I remember talking with Tedster over at Webmasterworld about this years ago. The argument ran to good code to content ratio was helpful with search engines - and you'll get that just by making a site compliant and accessible.

Comments

Yep!

Chris_D expounded on this as SES OZ a couple of years ago, but most people attending went "Huh?"

I'm very glad that

I'm very glad that Accessibility is getting discussed more these days, and yeah, it can work pretty well with some SEO tactics, but I wonder about some of the benefits people talk about.

Does good code to content ratio actually help SEO? Not that I've done any testing, but I can't really see how the ratio of code to content should affect antyhing, other than perhaps if a file is larger than the SE wants to parse because it's got a lot of code in.
Seems to be something I see people write when the SEO/Accessibility idea comes, but never been confident it's actually true, if anyones got some evidence to support it I'd be interested....

Code to Content ratio is a red herring

The only reason why a SE would care how much code you had on your web page is if the file size was massive.

Let's think about this issue logically. What would be the user advantage for SEs to prefer low-code web pages? None that I can think of. As long as the content is accessible (both to SEs and to people), that's what matters.

Both Accessibility and Usability are great supporting arguments to make when you're trying to overrule a web designer who doesn't want to be bothered to create a search-engine friendly site.

Faster Page Loads

Quote:
What would be the user advantage for SEs to prefer low-code web pages?

User advantage: Lean, clean code = faster page loads.

Page loading speed won't be a make-or-break factor on its own, but it's one more "signal of quality".

Faster page loads for the

Faster page loads for the user is always nice, I can't see SE's giving a page a slight boost because of it though. If they do I'd expect to see a lot more people talking about needing fast servers.....

Having well written, semantic code may help, marking things up correctly may help SE's work out that certain terms are more important etc... I just can't see the pure ratio of content to code having any effect but is one of those mildly popular myths that floats about.

Both Accessibility and

Quote:
Both Accessibility and Usability are great supporting arguments to make when you're trying to overrule a web designer who doesn't want to be bothered to create a search-engine friendly site.

Boy howdy, you aren't kidding. Sometimes the *only* way to get a corporate site to change is if you wave the accessibility flag at them.

Too many other factors

Rebuilds for accessibility and usability tend to add semantic weighting to pages - using , paragraphs and lists etc; enhance anchor text; utilize image replacement etc. And they use less markup.

They tend to perform better in search engines. Whether the use of less markup *alone* directly affects rankings is something I'm not convinced about, but if the process of using less markup results in some of the other benefits, then saying 'less markup = higher rankings' is a white lie I'm prepared to tell.

*cough*

"Please link out generously and always credit the source of your story." Did anyone send you that link Nick? ;)

Heh, but seriously, good article but Andy. grnidone makes a good point too.

Sometimes the *only* way to get a corporate site to change is if you wave the accessibility flag at them.

Even when this happens there are still usually stupid middle managers who have no idea what they are talking about but want crappy javascripting that goes against the guidelines. Argh, I could talk/moan about this topic all day.

:)

Actually, no fewer than 3

Actually, no fewer than 3 people - but the first to spot it was ME :)

You dont think i dont sub to alistapart do you? heh..

ACTUALLY

The first was ME! Loaded ALA on Monday night at 11:55 PM and reloaded every 30 seconds ;-)

haha, fair enough - i

haha, fair enough - i conceed :)

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