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If you have spent any amount of time on the Internet or talking about the Internet, you have run across the terms Accessibility and SEO or search engine optimization, and you probably have a fairly good idea of what they are and why they matter so much. What I want to do in this course is to kind of reframe your thinking and perception around these topics and show you that not only are Accessibility and SEO not rocket science, but by employing Accessibility and SEO techniques in your normal work process, you will create sites that are not only more accessible and more user-friendly and more findable, but sites that are easier to manage for you as a web developer.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty code, let's take a brief look at what Accessibility and SEO is all about and why they matter, and more importantly, why we put them together in this course. If you think about it, publishing content on the web is all about communication, and accessibility and search engine optimization are also all about communication. When you publish content to the web, you want as many people as possible to be able to find the content, access the content, and understand the content.
That means not only do you need good findability through search engines, but you also need good accessibility, because people can access your content through many different devices. If you think about it, when you build a website, you generally think that people are going to access your site through a regular web browser, but the reality is we now have a whole range of different devices that people use to access their website. They can use a computer, they can use a very small computer, they can use one of the new tablets, a phone, a special browser, a browser that reads the content back to them, a phone that reads the content back to them, or they may even use a TV or gaming device.
I've seen my cousin surf the Internet on a Nintendo gaming system. The Internet was never designed to be surfed with a Nintendo gaming system, but because this is now an option, you have to accommodate for it. On that note, the notion that text only or text-to-speech browsers are only for the visually impaired is no longer accurate. With the introduction of new technologies and also with the way that Internet is evolving, we no longer access information on the Internet the way we used to, which means when you build a website, you now have to accommodate for people accessing it in odd ways.
They can use a RssReader to pull the contents out. They can share your content on a social site like Facebook or Google Plus. They might be using a browser in a phone that doesn't actually display the content the normal way, or they might even access your website through an E-reader or a voice-controlled computer in their car. Regardless of how your visitors access your site, you need to accommodate them by designing and developing your content in such a way that regardless of the device, they will be able to access the content, navigate the content, and understand the content.
So how does SEO fit into all this? Well, the interesting thing is if you develop your content to fit with accessibility standards, that content becomes easy to read for search engines. If you think about it, on the Internet, regardless of the size of your site, your biggest fans are search engines, and search engines are essentially blind. They can only see text content that you put up on the web. They don't understand images unless you provide proper information about them and they can only follow links if they're properly marked up and properly explained.
Therefore, by marking up your site for accessibility, you're also accommodating search engines in the process. Another important point--when you mark up your content, web standards matter more now than they ever did before, precisely because we are now dealing with so many different devices that handle content in so many different ways, and by adding web standards into the equation, you also make content that's easier to digest for search engines and social networks. Now, if you've ever dealt with accessibility or SEO or both before, you are probably left wondering, this stuff is complicated or tedious, or it's kind of like alchemy.
You don't really know what you're doing, and then sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Well, the reality is neither accessibility nor search engine optimization is alchemy; it's more like common sense. If you just mark up things properly and you always think about what you are communicating when you put it in, you will end up with markup that makes sense both for you, the person who is visiting the site, and the search engines that try to index that content. Though it sounds cheesy, it's no less true. Accessibility and SEO is not rocket science, it's common sense and with a commonsense approach to both, you will end up with sites that are more accessible, more findable, more shareable, and easier to manage.
It's a win-win-win situation for everyone.
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