In today's digital world, it is imperative to prioritize accessibility and search engine optimization when building a website. If you're utilizing a content management system (CMS) for your website, likely, your CMS is poorly prepped for SEO-readiness and accessibility best practices, which can leave those responsible for running and optimizing your website with the additional work of building in and maintaining SEO and accessibility. Despite most CMSs not being optimized out of the box, it should be taken seriously because accessibility and SEO are both essential components of any successful website. They work hand-in-hand to ensure your site reaches as many people as possible and that those people can have an equally enjoyable user experience. In this blog post, we'll look at how you can ensure your CMS can reach its full performance potential for accessibility and SEO. 

What is a CMS?

A content management system (CMS) is a software application used to create, manage, store, and display digital content on the internet. It helps manage webpages and websites by providing an easy-to-use interface for users to create and update content without needing to learn to code or other complex technical skills. Some popular CMS examples include WordPress, Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace.  

Accessibility Matters 

A website that is accessible means that it can be used by everyone, regardless of ability. An accessible website helps create an inclusive environment where people with disabilities can navigate and use your website without causing burdens to the user. Utilizing an accessible CMS will help you make sure that your site meets the current accessibility standards and guidelines set out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).  

For websites to be fully accessible, they should have a CMS that provides features such as user preferences, consistent navigation, and scalable layout support. Additionally, the CMS should include the ability to specify page titles, give hyperlinks titles, and add alt text to images. Furthermore, accessibility requires semantic HTML markup and data tables with appropriately labeled headers and columns. After these functionalities are addressed, there should be extensive accessibility testing for all users across different devices and browsers. 

SEO Best Practices

Next up is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The goal of SEO is simple: make your website visible when someone searches for relevant terms or topics related to your business or brand online. To do this, you need to make sure your CMS is built with SEO best practices in mind—optimizing the content on your pages with keywords, creating internal links between pages on your site, generating quality backlinks from reputable sources, and more. You should also make sure you have an XML sitemap set up, so search engines like Google can easily crawl through your content and index it correctly in their database.  

A good CMS will come with tools built-in to help optimize your pages for SEO so that you don't have to manually add tags and meta descriptions every time you create a new page. This saves time and energy while improving your chances of appearing on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Where SEO and Accessibility Converge 

When both SEO and accessibility are used together, they can create a powerful combination for better user experience and increased organic traffic. A website can't be truly optimized for SEO if it isn't accessible to all users, and vice versa. This is why it's essential to ensure your CMS includes features for both.  

Accessibility helps ensure that people with disabilities can access your site, while SEO helps you gain visibility in search engine results pages. By providing excellent accessibility through clear consistent navigation and structure, appropriate titles, headings, and image alt-texts, you improve the quality of your content which is essential for solid SEO. 

Keyword research also plays an important role in both SEO and accessibility approaches. For example, including keywords in content not only boosts its ranking in search engines; it also helps people with visual impairment or cognitive disabilities to identify what information is presented on the page as it allows screen readers to read out the context of the page. 

Moreover, when a website has high accessibility scores paired with strong SEO metrics like backlinks and domain authority, then it becomes even more attractive to visitors as users know they'll be delivered a certain level of experience regardless of if they have a disability or not. This encourages more users to visit the site and drive additional traffic—leading to increased sales or conversion.

Person searching on smart phone next to white search bar illustration.

Steps You Can Take to Make Your CMS More SEO-Friendly and Accessible

Make sure your CMS allows for easy content optimization, such as options for custom titles and meta descriptions on each page.

  1. Implement a semantic structure with appropriate headings and subheadings across the site. This will help search engines understand the page better while also providing more navigation options to people using screen readers or other assistive technology.

  2. Ensure your CMS has automated text formatting options, such as bold and italics, for better readability.

  3. Add captions and transcripts for any multimedia content on the site (audio/video).

  4. Include alt-text descriptions for all images to provide additional context to search engines and screen readers.

  5. Add a sitemap to make it easy for search engines to index all the pages on your site.

  6. Incorporate keyword research into your content to increase visibility in both search engine results and for disabled users who rely on screen readers to access information on the web.

By taking these steps, you can ensure your CMS is optimized for both accessibility and SEO, so everyone has an equal opportunity to access and experience your website.  

If you're looking for a simple accessibility tool for your current site to help with accessibility efforts, check out accessiBe's integrations for the most popular content management systems.  


The importance of having a CMS built for accessibility and SEO cannot be overstated. Not only will it make your site more usable for everyone, but it will also improve your chances of appearing higher in search results. Make sure you're choosing a CMS that provides the features and tools needed to help your website rank well while also making it accessible to all users.  

The bottom line is that if you want your website to be successful, then investing in an accessible and SEO-friendly CMS is key. With the right strategy, you'll be able to create a website that performs well in search results and provides an excellent user experience for all.  

If you have questions regarding accessibility and/or how your current or prospective CMS measures up, let our certified accessibility experts at DiscoverTec help by reaching out to us at

Published on: January 25, 2023 by Sheena Salmon, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist