The Overlap between SEO & Accessibility

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “Better Accessibility, Better SEO.”

Mention web accessibility and digital marketers tend to sigh, flashback to alt attributes on images and envision a small handful of vision-impaired people using screen readers. In reality, accessibility standards benefit nearly 12% of the U.S. population, from people with hearing and vision impairment to people with repetitive motion disorder, developmental disabilities or ADHD. And the growing population of senior citizens online represents another important reason for brands to embrace accessibility standards, with 53% of American adults age 65 and older using the Internet.

As an added benefit, what’s good for accessibility is also typically good for search engine optimization. The accessibility standards that focus on providing textual alternatives and navigational guidelines have the most overlap with SEO because the search engine crawlers that index the Internet for ranking are traditionally bound by similar restrictions as screen readers.

The most obvious example of overlap between accessibility and SEO is the need to provide textual alternatives for non-textual content such as images, audio and video. On the SEO front, alt attributes are not a very powerful keyword relevance signal, but they do have a small benefit. When combined with other SEO best practices, using relevant alt attributes that agree with the keyword signal on the page when it’s possible will give the page an extra boost. Following the following guidelines will enhance both web accessibility and the keyword signals that feed SEO….

Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Is Your Store Locator Hiding?

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Can Local Searchers Find Your Stores?

Store location pages fill a need much larger than the physical address of a store close to the individual user. Many customers already know where a store is based on their everyday routines. What they don’t know and are seeking are the hours, holidays that the store is closed, services offered, manager’s name, phone number to call for questions about items, etc. The store locator, then, needs to answer these individual store questions.

Now consider searchers: For all intents and purposes they can drop out of the sky from Google or Bing and land on any page on the site. That makes every page on the site a potential landing page that needs to be able to command customers’ confidence and convert searchers to some next step.

The ideal would be to search Google for a store location, like [northbrook furniture store], and get the exact store locator pages for the relevant stores. This rarely happens, however. Read on to discover why and what you can do about it.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

How to Explain SEO to Marketers

My latest on NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well: “How to Reach Customers Via Search Engines

You don’t get the privilege of speaking to customers via organic search until the search engines understand what you’re saying.

Organic search is like speaking through a translator. The search engines’ algorithms are the gating factors that decide which sites will have a chance to speak to which searchers.

People searching Google know what they’re looking for. They ask Google to find it for them using a cryptic search phrase. From these few words, the search engines analyze relevance, intent and historical preference, and deliver a search results page with 10 organic search options.

Searchers decide based on those 10 links which site most closely meets their needs, and away they go. If Google doesn’t consider your site relevant or important enough to include in those 10 links, you don’t even get considered as an option by searchers. Period. Each time this happens is a lost opportunity to reach new customers or to market to those who already know your brand.

Businesses can improve their chances of success by understanding how to influence the process. That’s what SEO is all about.

Read the whole article at » Inc. Well

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

XML Sitemaps, an SEO Primer

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Understanding XML Sitemaps.”

XML sitemaps serve a very niche purpose in search engine optimization: facilitating indexation. Posting an XML sitemap is kind of like rolling out the red carpet for search engines and giving them a roadmap of the preferred routes through the site. It’s the site owner’s chance to tell crawlers, “I’d really appreciate it if you’d focus on these URLs in particular, thanks.” Whether the engines accept those recommendations of which URLs to crawl depends on the signals the site is sending.

Simply put, an XML sitemap is a bit of Extensible Markup Language (XML), a standard machine-readable format consumable by search engines and other data-munching programs like feed readers. XML sitemaps convey information about one thing, the URLs that make up a site. Each XML sitemap file follows the same basic form.

Read the article in full, including examples and a Q&A at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Understanding XML Sitemaps“»

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

SEO Report Card: MotoGP Store, Part 1

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO Report Card: MotoGP Store, Part 1.”

MotoGP Store HomepageEvery now and then an ecommerce site raises its hand for an “SEO Report Card” at Practical eCommerce. It’s a great way for the site to get some free advice and a good link, and an interesting way to give Practical eCommerce readers some, well, practical tips on how we’d handle SEO challenges with real ecommerce sites. Today’s volunteer is the MotoGP Store, the online merchandising arm of the official site for Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The store serves four countries in four currencies and sells MotoGP branded gear as well as fan gear for popular racers and teams.

Home Page Content

Like many ecommerce sites, MotoGP’s home page is jam-packed with images, branding, and featured content at the expense of actual HTML text on the page. When the images are disabled, the remaining text is entirely comprised of navigational links and alternative attributes for images. Neither can hold a candle to an actual piece of permanent body copy for anchoring a keyword theme and enabling a page to rank consistently. Even a short bit of text with 2 to 3 sentences focused on the primary keywords for the page will do the trick. The H1 heading for the home page is “MotoGP Official Store,” placed on the page using CSS image replacement to include both the logo and the HTML text on the page. This practice is above board as long as the words used mirror the words in the image.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce for insights into page templates, navigation, landing pages and conversion, keyword research and title tags. This is just part 1 of the report card, so stay tuned!

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.