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Would most of you agree that Accessibility and Usability are synonymous with SEO?
WAI Guidelines and Techniques
If you don't agree, then why? If you do, would you agree that the best SEO books out there are those that discuss the visitor experience? To achieve that visitor experience requires an intimate knowledge of the html elements and attributes available to you for ensuring an accessible and usable website, am I correct?
If I were to know nothing about SEO, never heard of it, and I needed to build a site that appealed to a certain audience. If I followed the guidelines above at the WAI, how do you think I would do out of the gate? Would I have covered 100% of my onsite SEO just by making sure that my users were able to access and use everything?
I'm told (by people like you) that they are synonymous, and the sites I write to tend to rank high, but they do so for relatively narrow domains, and it takes a while for them to get there. I'm not sure if it is the accessibility, or Big Fish in Little Pond.
However, accessibility in itself doesn't cover every base that needs to be covered for effective SEO. A page could pass every accessibility test with flying colors but be aiming at an unproductive search phrase (or not aiming at anything in particular).
This is where good SEO judgement comes in. It takes good keyword research skills and a good understanding of the user mindset to discern the most effective search phrase(s) to aim for.
It also takes a good writer to create headlines and body copy that flow well for humans as well as pleasing the spiders.
A site should be both usable AND well SEO'd IMO. When an issue arises and I have to make a choice between usability and SEO, I typically error on the side of being usable first. So while SEO is very important, IMO usability is more important.
Having a well SEO'd site may bring lots of visitors; but if the site is not user friendly, the users will not stick around for long or will be unable to find what they seek.
Having a site that is very usable typically doesn't do you a lot of good if people can't find it through the engines unless you are getting all of your traffic through pay-per-click.
So I think you have to aim for striking a good balance between usability and SEO. If those two are done well, accessibility will to a great extent take care of itself.
[edited by: ZydoSEO at 6:46 pm (utc) on Jan. 1, 2008]
If I were to know nothing about SEO, never heard of it, and I needed to build a site that appealed to a certain audience. If I followed the guidelines above at the WAI, how do you think I would do out of the gate?It would be a very good start, but races aren't won by starts allone.
Would I have covered 100% of my onsite SEO just by making sure that my users were able to access and use everything?No; not if the desired search terms are even slightly competitive. Good SEO is a continuous process of adding more and more fresh content. Yes, fresh content, as search engines tend to favor newer content over older content.
Imagine you have a store that sells boating supplies. You tell a customer in your store about your website, and that they can even buy parts online there. They go home, forget the domain name, but remember your business name. They type it into Google, and to no luck can not find your store. You just failed usability test #1, and they just found a new supplier other than you.