Before we dive into this topic, it’s important to note the difference between SEO accessibility and web accessibility. The latter revolves around making your web pages easy to navigate for users with disabilities or impairments, like blindness or Dyslexia, for example. Many elements of online accessibility overlap with SEO best practices. However, an SEO accessibility audit does not account for everything you’d need to do to make your site more accessible to visitors who are disabled.
We’re going to focus on SEO accessibility, or rendering, in this section, but keep web accessibility top of mind as you develop and maintain your site.
An accessible site is based on ease of rendering. Below are the website elements to review for your renderability audit.
As you learned above, server timeouts and errors will cause HTTP errors that hinder users and bots from accessing your site. If you notice that your server is experiencing issues, use the resources provided above to troubleshoot and resolve them. Failure to do so in a timely manner can result in search engines removing your web page from their index as it is a poor experience to show a broken page to a user.
Similar to server performance, HTTP errors will prevent access to your webpages. You can use a web crawler, like Screaming Frog, Botify, or DeepCrawl to perform a comprehensive error audit of your site.
Load Time and Page Size
If your page takes too long to load, the bounce rate is not the only problem you have to worry about. A delay in page load time can result in a server error that will block bots from your webpages or have them crawl partially loaded versions that are missing important sections of content. Depending on how much crawl demand there is for a given resource, bots will spend an equivalent amount of resources to attempt to load, render, and index pages. However, you should do everything in your control to decrease your page load time.
Every page on your site should be linked to at least one other page — preferably more, depending on how important the page is. When a page has no internal links, it’s called an orphan page. Like an article with no introduction, these pages lack the context that bots need to understand how they should be indexed.
Page depth refers to how many layers down a page exists in your site structure, i.e. how many clicks away from your homepage it is. It’s best to keep your site architecture as shallow as possible while still maintaining an intuitive hierarchy. Sometimes a multi-layered site is inevitable; in that case, you’ll want to prioritize a well-organized site over shallowness.
Regardless of how many layers in your site structure, keep important pages — like your product and contact pages — no more than three clicks deep. A structure that buries your product page so deep in your site that users and bots need to play detective to find them are less accessible and provide a poor experience
For example, a website URL like this that guides your target audience to your product page is an example of a poorly planned site structure: www.yourwebsite.com/products-features/features-by-industry/airlines-case-studies/airlines-products.
When you decide to redirect traffic from one page to another, you’re paying a price. That price is crawl efficiency. Redirects can slow down crawling, reduce page load time, and render your site inaccessible if those redirects aren’t set up properly. For all of these reasons, try to keep redirects to a minimum.
Once you've addressed accessibility issues, you can move onto how your pages rank in the SERPs.
Originally published Nov 11, 2019 12:45:00 PM, updated March 26 2020