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Overlapping factors in search engine optimization and web accessibility

Lourdes Moreno (Department of Computer Science, University Carlos III of Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
Paloma Martinez (Department of Computer Science, University Carlos III of Madrid, Madrid, Spain)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 2 August 2013




The purpose of this paper is to show that the pursuit of a high search engine relevance ranking for a webpage is not necessarily incompatible with the pursuit of web accessibility.


The research described arose from an investigation into the observed phenomenon that pages from accessible websites regularly appear near the top of search engine (such as Google) results, without any deliberate effort having been made through the application of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to achieve this. The reasons for this phenomenon appear to be found in the numerous similarities and overlapping characteristics between SEO factors and web accessibility guidelines. Context is provided through a review of sources including accessibility standards and relevant SEO studies and the relationship between SEO and web accessibility is described. The particular overlapping factors between the two are identified and the precise nature of the overlaps is explained in greater detail.


The available literature provides firm evidence that the overlapping factors not only serve to ensure the accessibility of a website for all users, but are also useful for the optimization of the website's search engine ranking. The research demonstrates that any SEO project undertaken should include, as a prerequisite, the proper design of accessible web content, inasmuch as search engines will interpret the web accessibility achieved as an indicator of quality and will be able to better access and index the resulting web content.


The present study indicates how developing websites with high visibility in search engine results also makes their content more accessible.



Moreno, L. and Martinez, P. (2013), "Overlapping factors in search engine optimization and web accessibility", Online Information Review, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 564-580.



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