Heat Level: Hot: These tips are meant for marketing experts.
Bottom Line: Website accessibility is becoming a more prominent issue every day. Legal warning letters are hitting businesses across the US, and are not limited to any particular business size, location, or industry, which includes the real estate industry.
Do This: Take steps now to understand where your business stands. Learn about accessibility standards and see how your website stacks up so you can start optimizing your site now rather than waiting until you receive one of these letters.
Before the World Wide Web, accessibility only applied to physical locations. This meant that businesses had to accommodate individuals with disabilities at their brick-and-mortar space. But due to recent legal precedent, this now includes their website.
So, how did this all start?
The ADA was signed into law in the 1990s, before the Internet was "a thing." As more and more of the world came to rely on the internet, activists began to assert that ADA protections needed to apply to websites as well as physical spaces.
The first landmark case was when a blind man sued Domino's Pizza after he was unable to complete an order on the restaurant’s website or the mobile app using screenreader technology. The US court presiding over the case ruled in favor of the disabled individual, which means that Domino’s Pizza, along with every other website on the Internet, is considered a public space and must be accessible to all people.
Since then, more legal cases have started to surface over web accessibility, and to make matters more chaotic, law firms are starting to send letters to local real estate businesses threatening them with legal action if their website doesn’t meet accessibility standards.
Want to know just how accessible your real estate website is? Get a free report and accessibility score now.
Having an accessible website means you’re able to reach a larger audience for your real estate business, which increases your chances of getting more leads. Accessibility doesn’t just help disabled people; it also helps users with unique circumstances like someone who is temporarily injured or may not have their glasses handy to read the text on your site.
Optimizing your site’s accessibility can also improve your site’s design, functionality, and SEO. Furthermore, it can increase your overall traffic and decrease the bounce rate on your site.
But most importantly, making your real estate website accessible shows that you want to provide a meaningful experience and be inclusive of all users.
There are plenty of things you can do to make your website more accessible that doesn’t require advanced web development skills. Let’s go over a few.
Alt tags are HTML attributes that describe the contents of an image to a user who is unable to see it. It’s best to make these descriptions as informative as possible. So instead of just saying “dog” to describe an image, write something more detailed like “A blonde-haired woman walking with a gray dog at a park.”
The HTML code of the alt tag should be formatted like this: <img src =”image-file-location” alt=”this is where your image description should be”>
Try to add alt tags to every image on your website if possible, especially images with text in them.
These are HTML tags that are used to define headings and subheadings on a webpage. They play an important role in separating titles from the body of the text. They are ranked by importance starting from H1 to H6. You don’t have to use every header tag, but you should always use an H1 tag for the title of your web page. Also, make sure they are in descending order! This helps not only screenreaders but search engines crawl and index your web pages. Here’s an example of how pages should be formatted in HTML code:
<h1>This is where the title of your page goes</h1>
<p>body of text</p>
<h2>This is where your subheading should go</h2>
<p>body of text</p>
Another tip: try to incorporate keywords into your headers to increase your webpage’s SEO value.
Podcasts and videos on your website should have closed captions. Captions are absolutely needed for deaf users but can also be useful to users who are unable to listen to media content with the sound on because they are in a noisy location.
Providing a text transcript for media content doesn’t just enhance user experience and accessibility; it can also improve your search engine rankings because Google and other search engines are able to understand your media content and index it appropriately.
If you’re unsure of how accessible your website is, good news! You can get a free report showing you the accessibility score of any webpage. Scoring is 0-100, with 100 being excellent. If your website is subpar or even in the red, don’t panic. Our team of web development experts can optimize your real estate website so it’s more accessible to all users. We’d be happy to take a look at your site - get in touch with us today!
Website accessibility is a growing concern and should be addressed immediately before your real estate business is targeted with legal warnings. There are plenty of improvements you can make on your own that don’t require advanced web development knowledge and reporting tools that will provide insight on which areas of your website need to be fixed. Contact us if you have any questions or want to get your accessibility scores in tip-top shape.