Screen Reader Test for SEO
We know that Google likes websites that are friendly to disabled persons and allow accessibility for all. Proof of this can be found in how they treat the ALT tag on images. We think it’s pretty cool too, and as website designers we have an obligation to allow access for all.
In chapter 3 we learned that Googles uses the words you put in the ALT tag to rank your images on Google Image Search. ALT tags are how screen readers play the description of an image through the speakers of a visually impaired user. They simply speak the words you put in the ALT tag.
We would like to take this concept a step further with our SEO Screen Reader Project. Let’s use a screen reader to test our website for SEO. If the screen reader can pick up and play our keywords through a speaker then Google can easily find them too. Keep an eye on this project as we develop it.
Screen Reader SEO Project
The ALT attribute is used to describe the contents of an image file. It’s important for several reasons.
It provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. We use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s query.
Many people—for example, users with visual impairments, or people using screen readers or who have low-bandwidth connections—may not be able to see images on web pages. Descriptive ALT text provides these users with important information.
Most website design programs make it super easy to assign an ALT Tag to your images when you first insert them into the website. It’s as simple as filling in the blanks.
An ALT Tag serves a couple of functions in website design. It will display the text of the ALT Tag if the image can’t display, and in some browsers it is the little yellow box that shows up when you hover your cursor over an image. The ALT tag is used for the visually impaired and will play the words of the text through their speakers.
The problem is that you can upload the image just fine with the ALT Tag option blank, and it is quicker and easier to do it this way, which is why most people do not take the extra two seconds it takes to fill in the blanks.
The steps for assigning an image a title in your website design program are basically the same as they are for the image ALT Tag as described above. A few extra seconds of effort are well worth it.
On some browsers the Image Title is displayed as a short wide yellow box popup when a visitor hovers their mouse over an image (without clicking). Whereas the ALT Tag is for helping search engines rank your image AND visually impaired humans, the image title is more for people that can see.
So what’s the difference? Just know that you should fill out both; worst case, just make sure you have an ALT Tag. Since the Image Title pops up when hovered over, it can be used as a “Call to Action.” As with any title, it should be relevant, catchy, concise and compelling. It’s just sloppy SEO to leave either blank—especially the ALT Tag!
Screen readers are mainly used by blind people. Instead of displaying web content visually in a Graphical User Interface on a monitor, screen readers convert the visual website text and the ALT Tags of visual images into synthesized speech (sounds like a robot) so that blind users can “hear our content.” Our SEO Screen Reader Project uses one of the popular screen reading programs as a tool to review our websites. We think that if a site is totally accessible and friendly to a blind person, that’s not only pretty cool, Google will also love it!
Here is a list of screen reading programs for the Americam Foundation for the Blind
Here is a good link about how SEO and Accessability are tied together
Here’s another great article on the alignment of SEO and Accessibility