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SEO Accessibility for Visually Impaired Visitors: OdioGo

For years I’ve been interested in SEO as it related to web accessibility issues. After doing some initial research into how SEO was tied to accessibility, I wrote an article (linked above) suggesting that they are so closely linked they should be married. So far I’ve found little interest among clients in making their sites fully W3C Compliant for Accessibility, due to the low volume of blind visitors to their web sites.

Visually impaired web visitors often use special screen readers to allow them auditory access to web page text content. But today I stumbled across a tool that makes text content accessible, not only to visually impaired, but to anyone who’d rather listen than read. So there is actually little to no SEO benefit to the audio option discussed here.

This makes “Accessible” have another meaning – as in accessible to those who prefer auditory to visual content. As a matter of fact, you can subscribe via iTunes if you like, among others.There is a great audio subscription page hosted by OdioGo, which gives visitors the option of listening to a stream of all posts or downloading individual MP3’s.

As you may have noted, there is a “Listen Now” link right below the post title above, which plays an automated “Text to Speech” version of this blog post. I doubt there is any SEO benefit to that and since it is displayed using javascript, it won’t work for those who surf with javascript turned off. That’s a bit ironic, since accessibility is often opposed to content displayed using AJAX or javascript.

I’ve been interested not just in accessibility though – I’m interested in availability to all who might be interested, including those who don’t happen to speak my language. I’ve recently installed the Google Translate widget on several of my websites for the benefit of those who seek my content in other languages (in the left shoulder on this blog).

Again, no value to SEO there, and there are no cached versions of those pages to get indexed in foreign search engines, but it does make the content available and useful for more people – who may use the AddThis “Share” button to bookmark – which leads to more external inbound links and higher rankings.

I guess it’s a great illustration of the concept “Just create great content” and your audience will find you. In this case, those who speak other languages, and those who would rather listen than read your blog.