At Clio Con 2017, I had the privilege of listening to the inspirational Haben Girma speak about accessibility and justice. Cut to late November, and Lawyerist interviewed Haben on their podcast to discuss the topic she feels so passionately about.
(If you have no idea who I am talking about, you can learn more about her story here, but she is most widely known as the first deaf/blind graduate from Harvard Law School).
Sam Glover did a splendid job at connecting the idea of justice to the relatable topic of website accessibility and search engine optimization. Yes, that’s right–an accessible website is also beneficial for SEO purposes. Sam and Haben made a few great points about how your website accessibility affects SEO:
- Google is essentially deaf and blind. It “reads” your website through the text it finds on images, in articles and through accessible videos. Thinking about this in conjunction with the idea of your website, you can probably understand why Google values text descriptions on your images. You can read more about what Google has to say on accessibility here.
- The rich descriptions and tags you put on content not only make your website easier to navigate for disabled clients and web users, but they also let search engines more easily mine the content for relevance.
Ideas for your own website:
- Try using a screen reader (Google Vox, VoiceOVer, Jaws) as you navigate your website. Are you able to understand how the pages are laid out? Do you know where to click and what you’ll find when you click through? If your pages don’t have easy to understand labels or alt tags that can translate what the user will find, connect with your web designer to make those changes right away.
- Continuous improvement: after every website change, run a test to determine usability and access. Did you remember to put an alt-tag on that new photo in your bio? One issue that Haben mentioned at Clio Con was that when accessible apps update features, they sometimes forget to make the new features accessible and render the app unusable for those with a vision impairment.
- Make sure any videos have a caption option, so people with hearing impairments can read them and those with vision impairments get the captions read to them.
If you’re intrigued and want to learn more about the SEO & Accessibility connection for your law firm’s website, Moz wrote an article in 2016 explaining the topic further. This is a list of some overlapping connections from that article:
“Here are just some examples of where SEO and accessibility can overlap:
- Video transcription
- Image captioning
- Image alt attributes
- Title tags
- Header tags (H1, H2, etc)
- Link anchor text
- On-site sitemaps, table of contents, and/or breadcrumbs
- Content ordering
- Size and color contrast of text
- Semantic HTML”
You can find the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines here.
As a lawyer and business owner, it is essential to have a website that meets the ADA standards for accessibility, otherwise, you are closing off access to potential clients. If you need help navigating accessibility and SEO best practices, feel free to contact us.