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What is Inclusive SEO and How Can I Implement It?

When you think of inclusivity, search engine optimization (SEO) probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

But, creating an inclusive search experience is crucial for your brand. You want everyone who interacts with your business to feel represented, accommodated for, and welcome. That’s the basis behind inclusive SEO.

Keep reading to learn more about what inclusive SEO is and how to achieve it for your business.

Need help improving your website’s accessibility and inclusivity? Contact us online or call us today at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about our website accessibility services!

Keep Reading: 10 Helps Tips to Make Your Website More Accessible 

What is inclusive SEO?

Inclusive SEO focuses on creating content that is accessible to as many users as possible, regardless of differing abilities.

Doing so includes practices like:

  • Employing various media formats, such as audio and visual tools
  • Writing in easy-to-understand language
  • Providing different visualization methods for more complex information

Why does inclusive SEO matter?

Some organizations, like certain government agencies, must follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law extends to cover their digital content, making it mandatory for these entities to comply with accessibility regulations. Noncompliance can result in fines, loss of funding, and even user-brought lawsuits.

Homepage for the ADA website

But another very valid reason exists for businesses to invest in inclusive SEO — expanding their audience. After all, SEO’s goal is for search engines to connect you with your target audience. The more users that can access your content, the more people you have as potential customers and brand advocates.

What are the inclusive SEO guidelines?

Many companies follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508 standards to support their efforts.

The Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium develops and publishes the WCAG. Currently, there are three levels of conformance with the guidelines — A, AA, and AAA. Most businesses strive for AA-level compliance, which also meets ADA standards.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a 1998 amendment that specifies the accessibility requirements of government agencies. Generally speaking, this law applies to any electronic equipment, records, software, device, information, and technical support. The standard covers employees and members of the public seeking federal services or data.

Those with a global footprint may also need to comply with the European regulation EN 301 549.

All three frameworks share a goal of making digital content perceivable, operable, and understandable for users of many abilities. They also help promote compatibility with assistive technologies, such as JAWS readers and specialized keyboards.

preview of level AA accessibility checklist

Download Now: Level AA Website Accessibility Checklist

How do I implement inclusive SEO?

Several methods exist for implementing inclusive SEO, including some you can do immediately to improve accessibility:

1. Add alternative consumption methods to visual and audio media

Alt tags, or alt text, is short for alternative text. This written summary is useful for those with visual impairments to understand an image in your content. Their assistive technology reads the description, so it’s best to be as specific as possible. For example, it’s better to write, “a couple sitting in a coffee shop working on their laptops” than “two people working.”

Similarly, you’ll want to add another method for consuming video or audio elements. Consider closed captioning or transcripts for videos, and add audio to video-only assets to help as many users as possible enjoy your content.

Closed captioning on a video of Hayden Christensen answering questions

Search engines may also reward your site with better rankings when you make these on-page SEO improvements since enhanced descriptions and transcripts make it easier for crawlers to understand, too. Plus, the changes help attract more traffic and keep users on your site longer, both of which positively impact key ranking factors.

2. Use multiple options for user-friendly navigation

Users with limited mobility may find certain navigation methods challenging, like manipulating a mouse. Providing an alternative way to move around your site helps users with these disabilities find what they need and eliminate frustration. Regardless of which navigation style you adopt, consider ensuring it has features that allow users to navigate with the tab key, arrows, and enter key.

Making these improvements also increases your site’s overall usability, which provides a better user experience that boosts SEO. The more friction-free their experience is, the likelier users are to engage and return. These actions send a positive signal to search engines that can spur higher rankings and more organic traffic.

3. Invest in user testing for web accessibility

This process involves having users complete a set of actions on a given website or webpage. The testing can include elements such as navigation, conversions, and form submissions. The testing group frequently includes users with various disabilities to identify the specific challenges that can arise for them or their assistive technology.

Finding and fixing these issues translates into more content that’s accessible to more people, directly improving SEO and the potential of attracting and converting new users.

4. Partner with an accessibility expert

Compliance oversights can be costly. Fortunately, an experienced accessibility expert can help you avoid them. Industry professionals know the regulations and what it takes to meet them. You can focus instead on what you do best without trying to interpret all the nuances and rules and put them into place. 

Trust WebFX for inclusive SEO that delivers results

WebFX is home to an award-winning team of design professionals, SEO experts, and digital marketing specialists. Our team has the skills and experience to provide web accessibility compliance services and SEO to deliver outstanding results. Since our founding, we’ve established a track record of results for customers throughout many industries.

Let us help make your business one of them by contacting us online or calling 888-601-5359 for more information about our website accessibility services!

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