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Re: accessibility and SEO


From: _mallory
Date: Jun 7, 2016 1:23PM

On Sun, Jun 05, 2016 at 02:24:51PM -0400, Linda Ferguson wrote:
> Mallory, I can understand your bad experiences with SEOs. There are a lot
> of sub-par companies out there. Fortunately, SEO is no longer about keyword
> stuffing or other black hat techniques. The changes in the Google algorithm
> over the past few years means that Google rewards sites that use SEO best
> practices and penalizes sites who try to game the system. The best SEOs
> know that it is all about relevant, usable, engaging, and accessible
> content.

An "expert" from one of the Netherlands' largest marketing & SEO
companies (not Joost btw!) said having headings in the footer
"confused Google" and would therefore lower rankings. Another from
that same company said, over another client site, that "more than
4 h2's on a page dilutes Google rankings". Boiled my blood.

As a low-wage front-end dev, I could only do what they said after
arguing my case. Since the headings had to be removed but also
needed to keep their heading-like styles, I used a class name
that was the URL to the WCAG failure example where p's and spans
are styled like headings to keep these now-p's styled as
headings. Two sites with this are still live and I point to them

Also a lot of the content that recenty at NCDT (the Dutch National
Congress on Digital Accessibility) Gerry McGovern called "bullsh*t"
(as it's created by companies to feel good about themselves
rather than to actually give value to real users/customers) was also
encouraged by these SEO companies "because Google values content"
(which is true, it's just that the examples were useless for what
real humans looked for in sites like those we were building).

They were in general anti-stuffing/anti-cloaking, they did not go
into anything we'd call black-hat, but this too was a detriment:
hidden headings for screen-reader accessibility was often flagged
as "cloaking" and I had to remove headings of landmark areas
regularly (luckily I could get almost the same effect with aria-label
which these companies ignored). Linking to the video by Matt Cutts
himself stating accessibility would not be punished by Google was
not enough.

I don't blame the clients believing the "large prominant SEO company
with many famous clients" over the minimum-wage front-ender of some
small e-commerce company. But I heard these sorts of things so
regularly, it soured me permanently.