Is Website Accessibility a SEO Ranking Factor?

June 10, 2022

Web accessibility provides online opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, many websites and digital tools are designed and coded with natural accessibility barriers that make them challenging, if not impossible, for people to use. Making the Internet accessible for everyone benefits society, businesses, and individual Internet users.

In the United States, website accessibility is covered under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although the legislation was passed in 1973, it requires local and state governments to provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to activities, services, or programs unless specific conditions apply. Title III in the ADA also states that all public areas must accommodate people with disabilities. That includes your website.

Website Accessibility and SEO: Are There Benefits?

Although there may be legal requirements for website owners to update their domains to be in compliance, Google states that this upgrade doesn’t offer a direct ranking factor.

Website accessibility differs from responsiveness, loading speed, and other technical optimization factors because of how challenging it is to quantify results. You could still receive indirect optimization benefits by taking steps to improve accessibility. When links are visually separated from textual content with color contrast, underlining, and font weight, it’s much easier for more people to use the site.

If you drive people away because a website is unusable, they won’t recommend it to others. When more Internet users avoid your site, a competitor potentially gets more of the business you should be receiving. Google admits that this perspective might change over time, but it isn’t an essential component of an SEO investment.

What Is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility allows people with disabilities to use websites. These designs allow individuals to understand, perceive, navigate, or interact online. That enables them to contribute to the Internet experience.

This update encompasses all potential disabilities that could prevent someone from accessing a website they want to visit. That includes cognitive, neurological, auditory, physical, visual, and speech diagnoses.

Some people have disabilities that aren’t permanent, such as a lost pair of glasses or a broken risk. Others have situational limitations, such as bright sunlight or a slow Internet connection. By improving your website to accommodate these needs, everyone who visits your site receives benefits.

Google Says There Is No Objective Measurement Available

Before website accessibility could provide SEO benefits, search engines would need ways to evaluate and measure objectively metrics in that category between sites. That means Google and others would need to define the elements that make sites more accessible to those with disabilities.

At the moment, the best option in Google’s toolbox is Core Web Vitals. It uses a set of factors that let the search engine giant discover a good page experience compared to a poor one. Could that be turned into a future tool for accessibility? Potentially, but there aren’t any plans for that to happen currently. There could be legal consequences for website owners who don’t offer accessibility options. It might not help SEO today, but you never know what tomorrow will bring.

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