Back to Top

How to Improve Organic Clickthrough for Your Content

Google search result pages are becoming more diverse and even interactive, which makes any clickthrough study out there much less reliable, because no two sets of search results are the same.

But how much control do writers and content creators have over how their content is represented in search? As it turns out, they do have quite a few options when it comes to optimizing their search snippets!

The anatomy of a standard search snippet

The standard Google search snippet has changed over the years, but in essence all the key elements are still there:

  • The clickable title or headline of the snippet (in blue)

  • The description of that page (about two lines long — it was lengthened for no particular reason a few years ago, but now seems to be back to two lines)

  • The URL path (used to be in green, now it is black)

On a mobile device, there’s also a tiny logo next to the URL:

Here’s how much control you have over these standard elements of your search snippet (in the order they currently appear):

Logo

Google will use your site favicon when deciding which image to show next to your URL. This means that you have full control over this part of the search snippet.

URL path

These days, Google will do its best to show the meaningful URL path (almost like a breadcrumb) instead of simply the URL of the page. This consists of:

  • The domain: I don’t have any research to support this, but I personally always scan domain names when choosing what to click. That being said, your choice of a domain name may somewhat impact your clickthrough (if you do a particularly good job picking a snappy domain name that intrigues) and you do have full control over this part of the snippet. Tools like Namify specialize in finding exactly that type of domains that are short, memorable, and witty.

  • The breadcrumb or the truncated URL: You can use breadcrumb schema to force Google to use breadcrumb instead of the URL, and watch your Search Console to see if that helped clickthrough:

Title

Google used to rely on the page title to generate the title of the search snippet, but it has been rewriting that part more and more often recently.

That being said, it is still recommended to optimize your title to include keywords and entice more clicks — and hope Google will keep it intact.

Description

Google has been generating the search snippet description for years without using the associated meta description: recent studies show that Google ignores meta descriptions in about 70% of cases.

You may still want to create meta descriptions in case Google needs some clues, but expect them to figure this part out on their own.

Another way to try and trick Google into using your chosen snippet description is to create concise summaries of the content and add it at the beginning of the article. Using semantic analysis tools like Text Optimizer, you can also ensure these summaries are semantically relevant to the topic:

Now, let’s see how we can enhance that standard search snippet to let it stand out and attract more clicks.

Rich snippets for content-based pages

Rich snippets are search snippets enhanced with some additional details. Web publishers can control rich snippets by adding schema markup, so they are thus under website owners’ control.

Here are the types of rich snippets that will work for content-based pages:

FAQ page

Your page doesn’t have to be FAQ to qualify for this rich snippet. All you need to do is answer two or more subsequent questions somewhere on that page to use the code. There are several WordPress plugins — including this one — that help you code that section.

HowTo schema

The HowTo schema was introduced for the DIY niche as a way to feature snippets that include step-by-step instructions.

These days, I see HowTo rich snippets implemented for just about any tutorial:

Video schema

More often than not, these rich snippets show up only on mobile devices, but they seem to be very common. A video rich snippet includes a video thumbnail:

Video schema will help you ensure the rich snippet is indeed generated, although I’ve seen dozens of cases when Google creates a rich snippet once you simply embed a video on the page, no schema required.

That being said, using the rich code won’t hurt, especially given there’s an easy video schema generator for you to create a code easily.

Structured snippets

Structured snippets are less popular than rich snippets, even though they are very common on search.

Structured snippets import tabular data to formulate a more informative search snippet:

All it takes to qualify for this type of a snippet is to create an HTML table. It is a good idea to use tables for summaries, feature comparisons, lists, etc.

Image thumbnails

Image thumbnails are very rare on desktop. Yet on mobile devices, images show up inside most search snippets:

There’s no particular optimization tactic here, but there are best practices that may or may not help:

Dates

Google shows dates within a search snippet when they think this may be useful to a searcher. Obviously, dates may have a big impact on clicking patterns: Based on the research by Ignite Visibility, about half of searchers claim that dates in search snippets are either “important” or “very important” clickthrough factors.

  • People may feel willing to click on a search snippet with a more recent date.

  • They can scroll past an older date even when the page ranks on top.

Google has clear guidelines as to how web publishers can keep those dates fresh:

  • Don’t try to hide dates, because they are useful.

  • When updating a piece, re-publish it on a new date only when you’ve basically rewritten it.(I.e., don’t redirect, better to update the old piece and change the publish date).

  • Include an “Updated on” note on top of the article if you updated it (Google will pick up on that date).

  • Using schema “datePublished” and “dateModified” is not required but will be helpful.

Google will understand all of the following date formats:

  • Published December 4, 2019

  • Posted Dec 4, 2020

  • Last updated: Dec 14, 2018

  • Updated Dec 14, 2021 8pm ET

Mini sitelinks

Mini sitelinks are probably the most unpredictable element of a search snippet. Google may randomly pick links from navigation, tag, or category links, etc. There’s also no way to tell Google they made a poor choice.

Unlike sitelinks, which usually show up for the top-ranking result and mostly for branded searches, mini sitelinks can be generated for just about any result out there.

Mini sitelinks represent a very useful feature, though, because they increase your odds that your search snippet will get a click (by adding more clickable links to your snippet).

One way to increase your chances that Google will show mini sitelinks within your search snippet is to use an on-page table of contents (which is powered by HTML anchor links).

Here’s an example of the table of contents:

And here are the mini sitelinks they generate:

Featured snippets

As of January 2020, featured snippets were officially considered the #1 organic result (previously they were “position zero” — appearing before the top organic result).

It still remains a big question whether they get clicked more than “normal looking” search results, or whether they are comprehensive enough to get fewer clicks. However, recent research suggests they’re still important for SEO.

With that being said, featured snippets are not easy to predict, but if you choose to optimize for them, be sure to check my older Moz column that is still very valid: How to Optimize for Featured Snippets. Just don’t forget to monitor your clickthrough to ensure getting featured didn’t hurt.

Indented results

Showing intended results is a relatively new trend. So far it is not clear how exactly to get that type of search snippet, but you can track them in tools like STAT.

Complementing your product page with how-to content on the same topic may be a good idea (Google may decide to rank both as indented results). At least this is something to experiment with.

Monitoring and measuring

While rank monitoring is pretty straightforward, this kind of optimization is harder to monitor because your rankings remain the same. Here are two tools you can use:

1. Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides clear clickthrough data that can help you signal of positive or negative impact of your optimization efforts:

In the Performance tab, click in the date range filter (it usually defaults to three months), go to “Compare” tab and select “Compare last 3 months year over year”:

From there, you can click to “Pages” or “Queries” tab to identify pages or search queries that have lost organic traffic from the past year (especially if there was no substantial position change):

2. WebCEO

WebCEO provides a more convenient way to keep an eye on your keywords that are losing clicks. The tool has a separate tag and a notification system alerting you of any queries that see a decline in clicks:

3. Visualping

Another useful tool here is Visualping that you can set to monitor your exact search snippet to be alerted when it changes:

This is a great way to correlate your optimization with the actual change that happened (and then clickthrough change).

Using SiteChecker’s website monitoring tool you can also monitor your competitors’ pages and correlate their edits to an improved search snippet:

Conclusion

Whether it is good or bad news, organic traffic is no longer about rankings. In fact, you may well be ranking #1 (i.e. get featured) and notice a decrease in clickthrough once your page is promoted. But, you can experiment with all kinds of ways to improve your organic clickthrough without investing more into your rankings, even though organic CTR is much harder to predict these days.

Reblogged 1 week ago from moz.com

Why does Google tip us off to search updates with minor ranking impacts but surprise us with the major ones?

It is the updates Google does not give us huge lead time to prepare for that impact the rankings the most, like the core updates, the Penguin and Panda updates from the past and most of the updates that go unconfirmed or unannounced.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 week ago from searchengineland.com

How to Do Restaurant Email Marketing Right

If you’re not doing email marketing for your restaurant yet, you’re missing out. Email is a cost-effective, easy-to-use channel for reaching customers and converting them into regular patrons. It can help you generate foot traffic, foster loyalty, and ultimately boost sales by keeping your tables booked and online orders busy.  Read on to learn more…

The post How to Do Restaurant Email Marketing Right appeared first on Benchmark Email.

Reblogged 1 week ago from www.benchmarkemail.com

Convert Prospects With the Power of Case Studies

A case study can be an effective storytelling tool to use in B2B content marketing. Learn why, as well as how to craft one, in this article. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Reblogged 1 week ago from www.marketingprofs.com

Your guide to Core Web Vitals tactics using Cloudflare and WebpageTest

Here is how to test Core Web Vitals scores and code changes using Cloudflare Workers as a reverse proxy and WebpageTest.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 week ago from searchengineland.com

Become a master of search marketing in 2022

Say hello to the SMX Master Classes — live, virtual, two-day deep dives into your search marketing specialty.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 week ago from searchengineland.com

E-commerce sales jumped this holiday season as search marketers weathered Google updates

Despite supply chain challenges, U.S. consumers spent more than $204 billion online this holiday season.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 week ago from searchengineland.com

A Deep CSS Dive Into Radial And Conic Gradients

CSS gradients are a useful CSS feature that can be used to create interesting UI effects or even help us in drawing something without the need to create HTML elements for it. Two gradients that I would like to focus on in this article are conic-gradient and radial-gradient. Each one works differently (conic gradients are curved, while radial gradients are a straight line).

To follow along, you don’t need to know about either radial-gradient or conic-gradient. I will try my best to explain them in a good manner.

Let’s dive in!

What Is A Radial Gradient?

From their name, radial-gradients provide us with the ability to draw radial elements like a circle or an ellipse.

Let’s look at the most basic syntax.

The Most Basic Example

In this example, we have a radial-gradient with two color stops. This resulted in an ellipse-shaped gradient.

.element {
    background: radial-gradient(#9c27b0, #ff9800);
}

The above is the most basic radial-gradient we can do in CSS. You might be wondering, why it defaulted to an ellipse? Well, let me explain.

If there is no shape name defined in the gradient (circle or ellipse), it will default to an ellipse in case:

  • There is no size determined;
  • Or, there are two values (for the width and height).

How Does A Radial Gradient Work?

I will go through a series of visuals that will show how a gradient works by incrementing different keywords and additions.

First, let’s get back to the initial example.

.element {
    background: radial-gradient(#9c27b0, #ff9800);
}

When there are two colors without identifying the shape, the gradient will default to an ellipse, like so:

The ellipse is filling the width and height of its container. It looks blurred because the browser assumed that the start and stop points are 0% and 100%, respectively.

Here is how the browser sees the gradient:

.element {
    background: radial-gradient(#9c27b0 0%, #ff9800 100%);
}

If we append circle before the first color stop, then this is how it looks:

.element {
    background: radial-gradient(circle, #9c27b0, #ff9800);
}

Now that you have an idea about how the circle and the ellipse look like by default, let’s get into positioning.

By default, both of them are centered horizontally and vertically in their container. In other words, at 50% 50%:

The important thing to notice here is that the positioning happens from the center of the circle or ellipse, so we position a circle at the top left, what will be positioned is the center point.

Let’s take a closer look at a few examples.

.element {
    background: radial-gradient(circle at top left, #9c27b0, #ff9800);
}

We could also center it on the right side. Adding only right will center the circle on the right 50%:

.element {
    background: radial-gradient(circle at right, #9c27b0, #ff9800);
}

Here is how it looks:

What Is A Conic Gradient?

The conic-gradient() CSS function creates a gradient that is rotated around the center of the element. Let’s see a basic example.

.element {
    background: conic-gradient(#9c27b0, #ff9800);
}

Look at how the gradient starts from the center point of the element. It rotates from 0deg to 360 by default.

Let’s see what happens when we add a hard stop value for the first color.

.element {
    background: conic-gradient(#9c27b0 50%, #ff9800);
}

Now the first color fills 50% of the element, while the second one will gradually be shown till 100%.

What happens if we apply a hard stop on the second color, too? In the snippet below, the first color will fill 50% of the element, the second one will start from 50% to the end (100%).

.element {
    background: conic-gradient(#9c27b0 50%, #ff9800 0);
}

Increasing the first color stop value will create an angled fill:

.element {
    background: conic-gradient(#9c27b0 65%, #ff9800 0);
}

Not only that, but we can also create a repeating gradient using the CSS function repeating-conic-gradient() as shown below.

.element {
    background: repeating-conic-gradient(
    #9c27b0 0 15deg,
    #ff9800 15deg 30deg
    );
}

The above snippets fill the first color from 0deg to 15deg, then the second color is filled from 15deg to 30deg. With repetition, it will look like the figure below:

Use Cases For Radial Gradients

Oftentimes, we need to add an illustration or a pattern as a background. In case there is a headline and/or secondary text, it might be difficult to read them, of course.

radial-gradient In A Hero Section

Using an ellipse gradient with the same color as the background can help make the content stand out. In the following example, notice how the content is overlapped with the background. It makes it a bit hard to focus on reading than looking at the pattern:

A common fix for that is to add an ellipse with the same color as the background underneath (to make it blend with it).

Here is the hero section with the ellipse (colored in grey, just for demo purposes):

Here is how to reflect that in CSS:

.hero {
    background-color: #fbfafa;
    background-image: radial-gradient(#fbfafa, rgba(0,0,0,0) center/70% 70% no-repeat, url("hero-bg.svg");
    background-position: center;
    background-size: 70% 70%, cover;
    background-repeat: no-repeat;
}

That way, we covered the pattern under the content, it’s much easier to read it now.

Dotted Pattern Effect

In order to create an effect of a dotted pattern, we can use radial-gradient. Here is how it looks:

To achieve that, we can create a tiny circle and the rest of the gradient will be transparent.

Here is how it looks on its own:

When this pattern is repeated, here is how it looks:

To reflect that in CSS, we need to add a width and height for the gradient. Since gradients repeat by default, it will result in the above pattern.

.dot-pattern {
  --color-1: #9c27b0;
  --color-2: rgba(0,0,0,0);
  background-image: radial-gradient(circle at 2px 2px, var(--color-1) 1px, var(--color-2) 0);
  background-size: 15px 15px;
}

Image Effects

Combined with mix-blend-mode, radial gradients can create some interesting UI effects for images. In the following example, notice how the circle is positioned at the top-left corner. We can take benefit from that by playing with blend modes to achieve a specific effect.

.thumb:after {
    content: "";
    position: absolute;
    inset: 0;
    background: radial-gradient(circle at top left, #9c27b0, #ff9800);
    mix-blend-mode: hard-light;
    opacity: 0.4;
}

Use Cases For Conic Gradients

Pie Charts

The first use case that I can think of for conic gradients is simple pie charts. It’s been a thing that we want to do in CSS a while ago, and now it’s possible with ease.

.pie-chart {
    width: 100px;
    height: 100px;
    background: conic-gradient(from 0deg, #b2daf9 128deg, #2096f3 0);
    border-radius: 50%;
}

Backgrounds And Patterns

There are tons of possibilities to create a pattern with conic gradients. For this example, I will focus on the checkerboard pattern.

Here is what happens in the following gradient:

  • The #fff color is covering 90deg of the element;
  • Then it’s followed by #000 till 180deg;
  • Then it’s followed by #fff till 270deg;
  • Finally, the #000 filled till the end angle (360deg).
.checkerboard {
    --size: 25px;
    width: 200px;
    height: 100px;
    background-image: conic-gradient(#fff 90deg, #000 0 180deg, #fff 0 270deg, #000 0);
    background-size: var(--size) var(--size);
}

When repeated and controlled via background-size, it will look like this:

Not only that, but we can achieve really interesting effects by rotating some values in a different way. Here is an example:

.element {
    background-image: conic-gradient(#fff 90deg, #000 0 136deg, #fff 0 313deg, #000 0);
}

UI Patterns

Sometimes, we might need to generate a random UI pattern that takes different shapes. We can use conic-gradient to achieve that. The idea is that we control the gradient size via background-size, and then change the conic-gradient angle to achieve different effects.

We have an element with a width and height of 200px. Within this element, we will repeat the background.

.element {
    --size: 20px;
    width: 200px;
    height: 200px;
    background-size: var(--size) var(--size);
}

To imagine it better, each background will have a size of 20px for both width and height, and it will be repeated horizontally and vertically.

Now, each square you see will contain a conic-gradient. For now, I will add two blue shades to demonstrate the concept better.

.element {
    --size: 20px;
    width: 200px;
    height: 200px;
    background: conic-gradient(#2296F3 0.13turn, rgba(255,255,255,0) 0);
    background-size: var(--size) var(--size);
}

This is how the conic gradient looks without repeating it:

With repeating, it looks like this. Now, the point is to make the second color transparent, which will result in a triangle shape.

By having a different angle, we can randomize the pattern shape to get interesting effects.

Animating Conic Gradients With @property

We can create interesting animation effects with conic-gradient. However, this isn’t possible by default. We need to use the @property definition to define a custom property that we’ll use for the animation.

@property --conic-mask {
    syntax: '<percentage>';
    inherits: false;
    initial-value: 0%;
}

.conic-mask {
    --conic-mask: 0%;
    -webkit-mask: conic-gradient(from 0deg at 50% 50%, #000 var(--conic-mask), #0000);
    transition: --conic-mask 1s ease-out;
}

.conic-mask: hover {
    --conic-mask: 100%;
}

Using Conic Gradients For Section Backgrounds

I saw this on a demo shared by Scott Kellum. I really liked the way the technique works to add a partial color to a footer while at the same time it looks smooth.

.footer {
    background: conic-gradient(from 0.25turn at 25% 0%, #FFD9CE, rgba(#FFD9CE, 0) 50%);
}

Conclusion

As you’ve seen, using CSS radial-gradient and conic-gradient functions can result in very interesting (and useful) UIs. However, there is no black and white when it comes to when to use each. Most of the time, it depends on the use case at hand.

I hope you find the article useful. Thanks a lot for reading!

Further Reading On Smashing Magazine

Reblogged 1 week ago from smashingmagazine.com

How To Hire For Digital Accessibility Roles

I’m currently the Head of Services at Fable, a company that connects organizations to people with disabilities to make user research, design, and development more inclusive. Because of the nature of the work we do, we have many accessibility roles within our company and we also work directly with people in accessibility roles at companies that use Fable for accessibility research.

I’ve heard from people who don’t have accessibility expertise that it can be challenging to figure out how to hire for accessibility roles. I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned over the last decade of hiring while working at Fable and other organizations.

First, there are a number of reasons why accessibility is important:

  • Ethical
    Ensuring everyone can access digital products is the right thing to do.
  • Legal
    In most places around the world there is either a direct legislative requirement to be accessible and/or a risk of being sued for human rights violations if your products and services aren’t accessible.
  • Business
    People with disabilities are a huge global market (15% of the population) with disposable income that you can’t tap into if you’re not accessible.
  • Innovation
    Diversity within your team and inclusive design lead to better, more creative digital products.
  • Usability
    Accessible products are more user-friendly for everyone.
  • Technical
    Accessible products are more robust.
  • Brand
    Inclusive organizations develop better customer loyalty and attract more positive press coverage.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. I’m going to assume if you’re reading an article about hiring for digital accessibility roles, you’re already on board with accessibility being important.

Now, you likely want to know what you have to do within your organization to staff up. What roles are critical to hire for? Which one should you start with? Where can you find people who know about accessibility and how do you evaluate their skills while hiring? These are the questions I will address in this article.

There are several ways to increase digital accessibility capacity in an organization:

All three types of roles are critical for a robust and sustainable accessibility practice. Let’s explore each option in detail.

Accessibility Specialist

An accessibility specialist is someone who deeply understands how to create accessible websites, mobile apps, and/or documents. They may be certified as a Web Accessibility Specialist through International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), have extensive work experience or have lived experience as a person with a disability and/or as an assistive technology user. The IAAP is a non-profit organization that works to promote accessibility as a profession globally through networking, education and certification.

The benefit of hiring this type of specialist early is the ability to understand deeply what is needed at a technical level to make digital products and documents accessible. The downside is that it’s easy to fall into a trap of relying too heavily on your accessibility specialist (or team) and they can become a bottleneck to making progress in accessibility across your organization.

Another downside is they can become frustrated if there is no executive support and therefore no budget and mandate for accessibility. It may be difficult for someone who isn’t a senior employee to get teams to make the changes required in order to create accessible products. Imagine someone highly skilled, who knows what needs to be done, but doesn’t have the support to do it. They can quickly become disillusioned and may leave the company.

Hiring an accessibility specialist first, can work well in a smaller organization with a digital team of less than 50 people. In larger organizations, it makes sense to have an executive champion for accessibility in place before you hire a specialist.

Upskilling Your Existing Team

Upskilling your existing team in accessibility through training is a fantastic way to decentralize accessibility and enable many people to learn accessibility skills. Accessibility is a team sport and the more decentralized it is, the more likely it is to be integrated into all projects and processes.

To upskill your team, you’ll need to provide accessibility training to all digital team members and to new hires. If you don’t have an accessibility team or specialist setting standards, you may end up with differing approaches to accessibility across parts of your organization.

You can more consistently approach accessibility by creating a network of champions that work across all functions.

Make sure that your training and onboarding program helps the team to understand various approaches to accessibility that should be used by researchers, designers, writers, developers, and testers. For example, if you wish to ensure that a percentage of all research participants have a disability, that’s a very different approach than doing accessibility-specific research studies. You may even want to do a mix of both, but it helps to have an organization-wide understanding of when to engage disabled people in user research, i.e. for what types of projects, how often and for what types of studies (generative research, evaluative research, surveys, and so on).

If you design an accessibility training program that covers those kinds of details and also make it part of onboarding new team members, you’ll get better consistency. There are organizations who can help create custom accessibility training programs.

Another great way to ensure consistency in design and code is to bake accessibility into your design system. For just buttons alone, you can standardize the following things that will impact their accessibility:

  • What colours to use for primary, secondary and ghost buttons;
  • What the default, disabled, focused, hover, and active states look like;
  • How labels should be handled if a button has text, just an icon, or both;
  • Minimum target sizes across large, medium, and small screens;
  • When to use ARIA states like aria-expanded and aria-pressed;
  • How to create a buttons that doesn’t use button semantics by using role=”button”, tabindex=”0” and keyboard event handlers to listen for the spacebar and enter key press.
    (Note: You really should use real HTML buttons, but if you don’t it’s critical that the <div>s or the tags that you use are coded with accessibility in mind).

Finally, consider a chat channel dedicated to sharing accessibility approaches and feedback so that questions are answered in the open and are searchable. Accessibility documentation can help, but only if it’s done really well (in context, bite-sized, searchable, up-to-date, easy to find, and available exactly when people need it). In many organizations, documentation isn’t useful or well used, so definitely consider whether your existing digital documentation is effective before deciding to create more documentation.

Decentralizing accessibility throughout the team is one of the most sustainable and impactful ways to increase accessibility in your digital products.

It’s quite difficult to secure the budget and prioritize the time for training a whole digital team without an executive champion in place. It can also be difficult to know what training to purchase if you’re buying paid training or who to hire if you’re doing in-house training without an accessibility specialist on the team. For larger organizations (50+ digital team members), it is best to make this the third thing you do, after securing a champion and a specialist.

Upskilling your team first works really well on smaller digital teams of less than 20 people. At that size, your team is more likely to pursue self-guided training using free online resources or taking online courses that aren’t as expensive as the custom training a larger team will often purchase. Since the team is so small, you may not have the budget to hire an accessibility specialist so it makes sense to increase your existing digital team’s accessibility knowledge first.

A small team often has direct access to leadership making it less important to have an identified executive champion for accessibility. Teams can have conversations as needed to prioritize accessibility. They are also likely to be more agile and won’t need to secure an accessibility budget in advance for a full year, but can tackle needs on a project-by-project basis.

Executive Champion For Accessibility

An executive champion for accessibility (or several) can pave the way for an effective accessibility program. They can bring accessibility considerations into all key conversations around budgeting, planning, and execution of projects. Accessibility is never effective as an afterthought. “We’ll audit the site after we build it” just doesn’t work unless you are willing to make major changes and even rebuild parts of it to make it accessible.

Shawn Lawton Henry explains it well in his book, “Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Through Design”:

“When accessibility is considered early and throughout design, it can be seamlessly and elegantly integrated with overall product design. Incorporating accessibility early decreases the time and money to design accessible products and increases the positive impact that accessibility can have on design overall.

If accessibility is only addressed late in product design, it can be very costly to make required design changes. Furthermore, accessibility ‘tacked on’ at the end is usually much less effective for people with disabilities and less beneficial for others.

As an example, consider a building that is architecturally planned for accessibility from the beginning and has a wheelchair-accessible entrance that fits with the building design aesthetically and practically.

Compare that to a building with a ramp added on after the building was already designed and the ramp looks awkward and is less useful to all. Incorporating accessibility from the beginning of a design project is significantly easier, more effective, and less expensive than waiting until later in the project.”

The downside of starting with an executive champion is that they may not have the specialized knowledge to know:

  • How to integrate accessibility into processes;
  • What training is most effective for the team;
  • How to advise on procurement of accessible products and services that are used to create digital products.

On a large digital team (50+ members) it’s often impossible to get the momentum to start an accessibility program without an executive champion in place. It’s usually necessary to have that person identified before you can get the budget and support to hire a specialist and effectively upskill your digital team.

To summarize where I think you should start:

  • Digital teams of < 20 people should focus on upskilling the team;
  • Digital teams of 20 to 50 people can start with hiring an accessibility specialist;
  • Digital teams of > 50 people should identify an executive champion first, then hire an accessibility specialist and then upskill the team.

Regardless of which approach to building accessibility capacity you start with, I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to fill roles with people who have disabilities. They may be visible disabilities like blindness or physical limitations, or invisible disabilities like neurodiversity, hearing loss, non-verbal communicators, or many more. Ideally, you have users of assistive technology (like screen readers, screen magnifiers, or alternative navigation) on your digital team to test products or hire a company to connect you with users of assistive technology for feedback and testing.

People with lived experience with disability will bring diversity, creativity, innovation, and unique perspectives on how to integrate accessibility within your organization as well as being valuable members of your digital team even if they aren’t in accessibility-specific roles.

Hiring An Accessibility Company

Sometimes it makes sense to find a company and not a person to support your accessibility journey. If you have a large organization with a digital team of more than 100 people, you’ll likely need an accessibility team of about 5 people (I’ll explain why later on) unless you invest in upskilling the entire team.

You could hire a company that specializes in accessibility consulting to create a strategy, provide training and coaching, and recommend accessibility tools and processes that your digital team can use.

Be wary of settling for a “quick fix” on accessibility. Quick fixes that don’t involve changing how you design and build will not help you build a more inclusive design practice and can actually make accessibility worse for website visitors who use assistive technology.

Also be wary of companies that heavily focus on accessibility auditing. An audit will give you a snapshot of the accessibility of your website at a particular point in time, but without additional support, your team won’t know how to address the issues found in the audit and without changing how they work, they’ll continue to create new accessibility issues over time.

An audit is useful if you’ve already created an accessibility practice and you know your digital products are accessible. An audit can provide documentation to demonstrate compliance with accessibility laws. You want to find an accessibility company that works closely with your team, understands your processes and products, and helps to build accessibility capacity internally.

What Skills Are Needed

You’ll want the following skills on your team:

Skilled In.. Why?
Product Accessibility To understand how to resource and plan for accessibility in the product development lifecycle, understand how accessibility impacts product sales and users, and to account for legislative requirements.
Research Accessibility To facilitate user interviews and accessibility testing with disabled people.
Design Accessibility To review prototypes and design patterns to identify where accessibility needs to be included and provide guidance on annotating designs and writing alternative descriptions for images.
Development Accessibility To review code and suggest changes for accessibility, identify how and when to use ARIA and choose accessibility testing tools to integrate into the development lifecycle.
Content Accessibility To review written content for plain language, logical heading structure and accessible instructions and error messages.
Multimedia Accessibility To understand how and when to use described audio, captions, transcripts, sign language, and other supports for audio and video content.
Q&A Testing Accessibility To use automated accessibility testing tools and do manual accessibility checks and/or coordinate testing with assistive technology users.

You likely won’t find all these skills in one person, so you’ll probably need to build an accessibility team of 3 to 5 people. If that’s not feasible, consider hiring an accessibility consulting company instead.

Note: For more details on role-based accessibility skills, check out the Teach Access accessibility skills hiring toolkit. The toolkit includes a description of responsibilities, qualifications, resume screening guidance, and interview questions related to web accessibility for more than 10 different digital team roles. It can be used to write job descriptions, screen resumes, and create interview questions. However, it is missing guidance around expected answers to interview questions. You’ll have to compare the answers of different candidates to understand which answers show the most expertise and relevance to your organization’s needs.

What An Accessibility Specialist Does

Accessibility specialists should primarily serve as enablers for others to practice accessibility. This starts with teaching people (or recommending training), identifying processes to change, tools to use, and ways to measure progress.

Some of the key activities of an accessibility team will be:

  • Ensuring user research involves diverse groups of people and helping researchers get comfortable interviewing people with disabilities and accommodating their needs;
  • Teaching designers how to include accessibility annotations in their design deliverables and helping to add accessibility to design system components;
  • Helping developers to determine how to build accessible components;
  • Identifying accessibility testing tools suitable for your organization’s development workflow and teaching people the best ways to use the tools;
  • Accessibility UAT: A final check pre-release to ensure researchers, designers, developers, and QA testers are integrating accessibility practices into their work and identifying ways to change processes if digital products aren’t accessible enough;
  • Measuring the progress of an accessibility program.

I don’t believe accessibility specialists should “do accessibility.” The exception would be in a very small organization with a small digital team and products that aren’t frequently updated. You don’t want your accessibility team to be the ones researching, designing, and coding for accessibility — it’s inefficient, leads to burn out, and doesn’t scale.

“What we have are a few people who know a lot about Accessibility. What we need are a lot of people to know a little about it.”

— Matt May, Adobe

Accessibility specialists should build an accessibility program, be advocates within the organization, coach people on the harder parts of accessibility, create resources, provide training, facilitate process change, select accessibility tools, and help measure the success of the accessibility program.

Where To Find People

Now that you have an idea of the types of roles you need to fill, how do you go about finding people? Start within your own organization. Try recruiting volunteers to be in an accessibility champions network and you might be surprised to find that you already have a wealth of accessibility knowledge on your team.

In addition to the standard hiring channels, you might consider posting job ads on a11yjobs.com and in the international accessibility Slack #jobs channel (ask for an invitation to join web-a11y Slack). Try posting on job boards for people with disabilities like Disabled Person in Canada and abilityJOBS in the U.S. Most importantly, make sure you are clearly calling out accessibility skills in all your job postings — even if they aren’t for dedicated accessibility roles.

For example, when hiring designers, make sure you list requirements (e.g. selecting colors with accessible contrast ratios, specifying keyboard interactions in design deliverables, considering optimal touch target sizing, and so on) under “job responsibilities”. These details can be hard to figure out if you don’t already have an accessibility specialist to provide advice. Consider working with an accessibility consultant or leverage Scott O’Hara’s accessibility interview questions.

Budget Considerations

When hiring for accessibility — whether for dedicated roles or not — consider that this is a specialized skill set and will likely require a higher salary to attract and retain knowledgeable and experienced job candidates. Salaries vary by location, but you can get an idea of accessibility salaries in your area on ZipRecruiter or glassdoor.

The other thing to consider is what are the accessibility leadership roles you need. Accessibility specialists often work across an organization — a type of collaboration suited to a director role. Consider who your accessibility team is interacting with regularly. If you have a manager of accessibility who is regularly in conversation with directors, you may need to hire at a higher level. Similarly, if you want an executive champion for accessibility, that needs an executive title, consider hiring a Chief Accessibility Officer.

When hiring for digital team roles, using a salary range can help you to provide better compensation to candidates with accessibility knowledge. This will help you to attract and retain the best talent and can also be used as an incentive for existing team members to learn new skills. Rewarding accessibility skills and the application of those skills to work should be considered when doing employee development planning.

Hiring Considerations

When hiring for accessibility roles, your hiring process must also be accessible. Using a consultant to review your hiring process for accessibility can be helpful if you don’t have the knowledge to do this internally.

If you want to be able to hire people with disabilities, you really don’t want the job application process to be a barrier.

If you can’t budget for a consultant to ensure your hiring is inclusive, make sure you have an accessible means of contacting HR or the hiring manager. For example, use a Google or Microsoft form to collect requests for accessibility accommodations and provide a link to that form on all job-related materials — the job posting, emails sent to candidates, and interview invitations.

When a job applicant asks for an accessibility accommodation, make sure you have processes in place to facilitate that. It’s the worst experience to be hard of hearing and show up to a video-based job interview and not have captions. It’s terrible for your brand reputation if you offer to make accommodations and then fail to provide them.

Conclusion

There are many ways to increase your team’s capacity for accessibility and it’s less important where you start than it is that you do start. Accessibility must be a permanent program within organizations, much like security. You wouldn’t just do one round of security testing and consider it taken care of.

Accessibility is an ongoing journey, one with many rewards — a more diverse and creative team, more robust digital products, more market share, and more meaningful work for everyone involved.

Further Reading On Smashing Magazine

Reblogged 1 week ago from smashingmagazine.com

Yoast SEO 17.9 adds keyphrase performance tracking

Yoast SEO partnered with SEO tool provider Wincher for these capabilities.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 week ago from searchengineland.com