Tools and Tips to Make Your WordPress Blog Content Super-Accessible
An award-winning blog serves up information to readers like a five-star restaurant. Taxonomies are the menu advertising “food” to both guests and SEO spiders. Categories and tags are part of the active ingredients that make your bouillabaisse bubble with tasty morsels of nourishment that your readers crave.
Simple tools like plugins can make your WordPress website’s blog content super-accessible. Your goal as a publisher is to increase the number of people who visit your website year over year with original, exciting content. However, I will suggest that while your content must follow the taste of your readers, your basic WordPress physical structure remains consistent.
Consider your blog layout like comfort food. Key ingredients like perceivability, operability, understandability, and use of assistive technologies, are discussed as part of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) relating to the technical aspects of WordPress theme accessibility. I want to suggest, in comparison, tools and tips that make your page, your post, and your blog content super-accessible. Let’s use a restaurant menu as a model.
People who sit down at a table in a restaurant and look at a menu know why they are there and what they want. Your home web page, if not the entire site, is like a restaurant menu.
Physical access and consistency are critical because your readers already know why they are viewing your pages. The fact you have, for example, a consistent and recognizable color palette and font family, helps identify your “brand”. One tool that helps organize colors, logo, and overall online presence is Ultimate Branding v188.8.131.52.
In terms of basic layout, consistent use (or perhaps a more significant non-use) of, for example, a left-hand or right-hand sidebar not only identifies your “brand” but gives your readers a more predictable, comfortable “feeling” as they focus on your content.
However, a general website’s silo architecture doesn’t have to be boring because your chosen topics are organized into separate areas or pages. If you want to change the look and feel of one or more of your WordPress pages or posts while keeping the overall structural consistency of your website, use Multiple Themes v7.1.
Using assistive technologies like GSpeech v2.0.1 not only reflects well in terms of WCAG 2.0 mentioned above, but also adds both novelty and convenience to your pages. Consider using a text-to-speech plugin, not only for your readers but also as an aid to editing your content. Zoom v1.2.6 is a plugin that enables your readers, in a similar assistive way, to customize the size of a predefined area in your website.
Consider using WP Accessibility v1.4.3 as an overall check of your online presence. I have this plugin as my personal pick because of minimal setup time, and reliability in finding and correcting many common accessibility issues.
The above tools and tips address the physical appearance of your website in terms of recognizable branding, theme, and pages. Returning to our restaurant theme, it’s much like looking at a fancy, leather-bound menu or simple, laminated listing of Today’s Specials. The accessibility of content listed inside the menu is also important because the way you describe your food determines whether or not your reader or a search engine web crawler will want to “consume” it.
People read a restaurant menu to decide what the restaurant is offering. The faster a person understands how a restaurant menu is organized, the faster they find what they want to eat. In a similar way, search engines use content layout to determine page ranking, which in turn provides greater accessibility to your content.
Accessibility is not just about adjusting for a reader’s impairment. Search engine web crawlers (commonly called spiders) rank your website and make your content super-accessible by collecting the best information (in terms of originality, content value, and freshness) in the fastest, most direct ways. You need to include navigational guides and contextual directions in your content to help your reader and the search engine crawler find their way to your target.
There are several excellent plugins that help make your content super-accessible. Yoast SEO v2.3.4 and SEO Ultimate v184.108.40.206 are two very popular tools every WordPress publisher should consider using to help super-charge their website and the presentation of their content. Simple changes like adding a breadcrumb trail – the navigational aids on a web page that track where a reader is located in a website – helps readers and search engine web crawlers find their way through your content.
Consider Pretty Link Lite v1.6.8 (and the premium Pretty Link Pro) or adding a Link Library v220.127.116.11 as additional ways to “dress” your hyperlinks and improve access to your data. A plugin called WP Post Navigation v1.2.3 also adds navigational markers “Previous” and “Next” to the Edit Page in your administrative area.
You want to avoid search engine penalties if you are considering using SEO plugins or adding page structures that cross-link your content. Some of these third-party plugins offer easy-to-use features that enable you, for example, to activate selectively the index or follow functions associated with layout components. Look for this capability in, for example, Yoast SEO v2.3.4, under SEO/Titles & Metas, in specific tabs for Post Types, Taxonomies, Archives, and Others.
From a bird’s-eye view, super-accessibility is all about knowing where you are, where you have been, and where you want to go. Yoast SEO v2.3.4 and other plugins like Multisite Sitemaps v1.1 by WPMU DEV automatically generate sitemaps for search engines. The WPMU DEV plugin has the additional benefit of automatically creating and updating these maps for every website in a WordPress network.
Sometimes a restaurant has separate menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, many restaurants offer a separate wine listing! Separating your material to make your content super-accessible is part of the silo architecture I mentioned in the first section about physical layout. You can also logically organize your general “post” content into hierarchical categories and informational tags that match your content and your business. These logically ordered lists are called taxonomies.
Taxonomies can make content super-accessible, much like a more-specialized restaurant simplifies their offering with a price fixed menu and a complete but pre-selected multi-course meal. Imagine a search engine spider accessing the website owned by a small French restaurant. The restaurant has a streamlined listing of only a handful of specially-selected entrees, making it far easier to index.
You can use plugins like Types v1.7.11, Custom Post Type UI v1.1.2, or Pods v2.5.4 and their premium add-ons to add or replace the more general “post-type” object with a custom post type (commonly called CPT) designed specifically for a custom website. This is an advanced example of super-accessibility because the WordPress installation is changed to exactly match the needs of a business or expectations of a reader.
Last but not least, niche software products like Gwolle-GB 1.4.4 or Visual Recipe Index 1.2.8, specifically designed for the food-serving industry, might help our restaurant improve access to their content. Leverage the experience of other designers – don’t forget that super-accessibility is giving people not only what they want but what they expect. As previously mentioned, help readers focus on your message by providing them with a consistent and familiar scheme or layout. You expect to read a menu when you go to a restaurant!
What is often taken for granted or overlooked are the keys to making five-star cooking super-accessible: simple ingredients, original composition, and clear presentation. It works the same way with WordPress websites. I have suggested tips and tools that will make your content available to larger numbers of readers.
Super-accessible content is like bringing out the flavors of familiar comfort food. If you keep your meals fresh and balance your ingredients, you will leave your readers, and search-engine crawlers, returning for another serving. Bon appétit.