Websites that achieve Section 508 compliance increase their audience to include users with disabilities.
Many supporters of web accessibility mention the additional market share that consists of millions of disabled customers. While this is certainly impactful, a potentially greater benefit of an accessible website is better visibility to search engines. You can benefit all of your customers, regardless of disability, by complying with web accessibility standards.
Attract a larger audience with an accessible website
A little-known benefit of Section 508 compliance is an SEO boost. Search engine optimization relies on web crawlers that read a website. These web crawlers have an easier time crawling sites that are 508 compliant because they have a straightforward design, text-based versions of media, and clear descriptors. Their structure also allows crawlers to access and evaluate content more easily. As a result, websites are indexed more accurately and are more likely to appear as a relevant result in a web search.
Increase organic search numbers (and sales)
The benefits of Section 508 compliance can extend to a company’s sales. When your website is better indexed by search engines, it will rank higher in search results. This can lead you to the holy grail of marketing: organic search traffic.
Unpaid, organic traffic is based on search engine rankings. Being highly relevant to online searches is helpful to growing your organic reach. Organic traffic is currently the best channel for customer acquisition. It also has the highest Customer Lifetime Value, according to a recent study. Focusing on search engine optimization can help boost organic search power.
Compliance is worth the effort
You might be hesitant to overhaul your website to be Section 508 compliant because of the effort involved. However, undergoing an update can positively benefit your bottom line. When more people (and web crawlers) can access a website, the site can generate more business.
Developers know that it would be foolish build a website that could only be accessed on one type of browser. The same idea applies to Section 508 compliance. Accessible websites cast a wider net to any type of customer—and not just people with disabilities.
The surprising impact of multimedia on SEO
One area that is often overlooked is making images and multimedia accessible. Section 508 standards require equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation. For example, audio content should be transcribed. Videos need synchronized captions. Images should include alt-text.
Providing text-based alternatives is not just for screen readers. Search engines also use alt-text and transcripts to determine a website’s content. Increase search engine results by including accessible alternatives for all multimedia. Assistive technology and search engines will be able to access your website’s content.
Compliant design can lead to higher conversions
To be Section 508 compliant, links must use keywords within the anchor text to describe the destination page. Doing so helps people using assistive technology understand where a link will take them. For example, instead of “Click here” on a submit button, your anchor text could say, “Sign up for our newsletter.
These small changes go a long way to improve usability. From a marketing standpoint, they also provide a better call to action to all customers. Recent research shows that online form conversion rates vary widely based on the text of a submit button. Clear button copy increases user accessibility and can also boosts conversions and sales.
The benefits of Section 508 compliant websites
You can use Section 508 compliance to increase your company’s reach. It is possible to meet the needs of more potential customers, regardless of disability, by improving the usability and accessibility of your website.