Accessibility techniques ensure that documents delivered over the web are machine friendly. Search engine spiders are essentially machines, tasked with the job of collecting links from the Web and categorising them. As accessibility requires that content is written in plain language, with the important information delivered first, it stands to reason that accessible websites will do better than their non-accessible counter-parts with search engine positioning.
Author: Gez Lemon
- Search Engine Optimisation and Accessibility
- Spamming Search Engines
- Spanish Translation
- Further Reading
Search Engine Optimisation and Accessibility
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and accessibility are completely compatible with one another. That's not completely true, but it is when SEO techniques are used correctly, and they avoid spamming techniques. An accessible website is automatically optimised for good search engine placement, as accessible sites are machine friendly, making it far easier for search engines to correctly index the website.
- Serve important information first
- Accessible websites are encouraged to serve important information first, so visitors can immediately ascertain the essence of the content. The earlier a phrase appears on a page, the higher the ranking it will be given by search engines.
- Expand Abbreviations
- Accessible websites expand abbreviations the first time they are used on the page. Expanding abbreviations not only allows those less familiar with the terms to understand the content, but also helps with keyword density and ensuring content is indexed appropriately.
- Separation of Presentation from Content
- Accessible websites separate presentation from content using CSS. The cleaner a document is, the easier it is for a spider to gain access to the information on a page.
- Semantically correct
- User agents are better able to interact with semantically correct documents. Some user agents allow visitors to find their way around your site by listing headings, links, and other elements. Spiders are also better able to make sense of the content if the content is placed in the correct elements, as they can gain extra meaning, such as with heading elements.
- Text versions of non-text objects
- Accessible websites contain text equivalents for all non-text elements such as images, applets, movies, sound, etc. The text equivalents ensure that search engines are also able to gain access to the information.
Spamming Search Engines
In a recent debate about spamming search engines, Philip Chalmers mentioned that search engines need to be aware of synonyms and spelling mistakes. A few years ago, developers were encouraged to include synonyms and common spelling mistakes within their meta tags. Search engines have started to place less importance on meta tags because of the spamming techniques employed by some SEO specialists. Some search engines, such as Inktomi, do use meta tags to index a site, and won't initially rank a site without them. Inktomi are currently in the process of transferring their products and services to their partner, Overture Services, Inc, and are no longer accepting new subscribers to their services. When search engines do take notice of meta tags, they also require the content of the meta tags to be included in the content of the document, otherwise they'll assume you're just spamming. So what do you do to ensure your pages are indexed properly?
Search engines are becoming increasingly complex. If you search for the phrase, "Surch Engine" in Google, it will ask if you meant to search for "Search Engine". These types of technique are being extended for phrases in situations where it's not clear from the search term what the person is searching for.
The simplest and surest method of ensuring your documents are indexed correctly is to ensure your pages have good, accessible, and well-structured content. The algorithms used by search engines tend to be very guarded. What is known about them are usually the results of search engine strategists that analyse their behaviour in order to determine how they rank pages. Techniques to trick search engines into ranking your content higher are unlikely to work, and could ultimately result in a ban. The accessible solution is not only better for your visitors, but also ensures you get plenty of them.
- SEO - A Positive Influence on Web Accessibility
- Optimising your Chances with Accessibility
- key phrase suggestions
- Search Engine Watch