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Accessible Content Is Findable Content

Accessibility is all about making a website usable by as many people as possible—regardless of disability or platform. It opens up access to your content to the broadest audience possible, and at the same time helps to ensure that search engines can index your entire site easily. Two birds—one stone!

Often, making content more accessible takes very little effort and provides unique opportunities to enrich the density of relevant keywords in pages. When most people think of accessibility, the alt attribute of the <img /> tag springs to mind first. When images can’t be displayed, or are turned off, the alternate text in alt is shown. It’s a typical place to provide text that describes a photo to visually impaired users, and is very useful to search engines trying to extract meaning from your content. Like blind users, search engines can’t read text displayed in an image unless there’s a text alternative.

Acronyms and abbreviations also let you deliver accessible content while assisting search engines with indexing. For example, suppose a user is searching for information about Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language, but your site references the topic by the common acronym SMIL (pronounced smile). Although your content may provide the user with the answers she seeks, if it’s not presented properly, your content may remain mired in obscurity. Here’s how you could solve this problem with markup:

<acronym title="Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language">SMIL</acronym>

Search spiders aren’t smart enough to draw a relationship between the acronym and its meaning, but by using the <acronym> tag you can make the connection clear. It’s a smart way to anticipate search behaviors. Other abbreviations can be solved in a similar fashion.

<abbr title="Georgia">GA</abbr>

Accessible content is findable content. It requires very little extra effort to make content accessible, but can pay big in helping you to connect with your audience.

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