Wednesday 17 July 2002

Accessibility tip 22: Use real headers

“Think of your weblog as an outline,” writes Mark Pilgrim. (I can think of someone who’s going to love that idea.)

Now mark up your weblog as an outline, using real <h1>, <h2>, <h3> tags. Screen readers rely on these tags to interpret the structure of your pages. Your pages do have a structure, but without proper header tags, screen readers can’t find it.

A day off for me, since I’m already using the markup Mark recommends. Although this doesn’t apply to template-generated weblogs, it continues to amaze me how many designers use graphical headings (i.e. GIFs) thereby ensuring that their sites fall even lower in Google’s ranking.

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Yeah, I love days like this, where I can honestly say that taking 10 minutes to benefit some blind users *is in your own self-interest*. Of course this matters more for commercial sites than for personal weblogs (other than vanity, Google ranking doesn't matter much), but still, it's nice when acting out of rational self-interest actually ends up doing the right thing.

The search engine optimization industry is all over this accessibility thing, especially now that Google is king and none of the sleazy tricks work anymore. Making your site accessible is one of the cheapest things you can do to boost PageRank. Remember, Googlebot is a blind user who reads the entire Internet every month. If Googlebot can't read it, it may as well not exist.

Posted by Mark Pilgrim on 17 July 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Ah, the glorious intersection of altruism and self-interest. Would that it occurred more frequently.

Posted by Jonathon Delacour on 17 July 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Jonathon, you practice an intersection of altruism and self-interest everytime you swim and don't piss in the pool.

Sorry. Couldn't help myself. I'm bad.

Posted by Burningbird on 18 July 2002 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

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