By Valentina Izzo

1 year ago

Apply SEO accessibility to your e-commerce website and avoid fines under the European Accessibility Act 2025.

Table of content:

  1. A general overview of SEO Accessibility and the European Accessibility Act 2025
  2. Why should you care about the EAA Act 2025 in the European Union?
  3. What SEOs or management fail to understand or underestimate about the European Accessibility Act 2025 and why do you need to see the bigger picture
  4. Let’s talk money – what are the revenue opportunities for someone implementing accessibility on their website?
  5. What’s the reality in other countries, especially developed ones?
  6. OK, I am finally convinced – what are some great ways to make my website more accessible?
  7. Why choose WordLift as a solution for law-compliant accessibility & SEO refinement?

A General Overview Of SEO Accessibility And The European Accessibility Act 2025

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a crucial piece of legislation aimed at improving the accessibility of digital products and services throughout the European Union. The act covers a wide range of digital products and services, including websites, mobile apps, and other digital interfaces.

Complying with the EAA is not only a legal requirement, but it can also have a positive impact on a website’s search engine rankings. Search engines like Google prioritize user-friendly and accessible websites, and the EAA’s accessibility standards align with these priorities.

Some of the SEO accessibility requirements set forth by the EAA include ensuring that websites and mobile apps are compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen readers, providing alternative text for non-text content, like images and videos, and designing websites with clear and consistent navigation.

By adhering to these standards, websites can avoid legal repercussions and improve their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs), attracting a wider audience of users. Additionally, prioritizing SEO accessibility can demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion, which can be beneficial for a company’s branding and reputation.

Why Should You Care About The EAA Act 2025 In The European Union?

We have spoken with multiple SEO professionals and companies operating in the European Union area and some of the mistakes that they made regarding the European Accessibility Act 2025 are the following:

  • Stakeholders didn’t put attention to something that is not optional anymore, because the law will be enforced by the public authorities starting from the 28th of June, 2025 with a special focus on e-commerce websites. The only exception is small businesses that have fewer than 10 employees and no more than an annual turnover of 2 million euros. Otherwise, if you are coming from an e-commerce business that is not satisfying these criteria, you should start worrying now because the internal processes that need to be started and the meetings that you need to go through to consolidate take a lot of time. Priorities need to be set, and an exact framework on how to approach stuff should be in place. Believe us, this can definitely consume the time you have by 2025!
  • Stakeholders are aware of the law but think or decide that paying fines is a lesser cost for them because they believe that they don’t have the organizational, financial capacities, and know-how practices to approach the European Accessibility Law in a different way. The issue with this approach is that objectively speaking, it is the worst financial decision. It positions your company as non-inclusive from a branding perspective, and we all know how disastrous losing brand value can be for a company. It sets off a domino effect that’s difficult to stop or fix once people realize that you don’t prioritize inclusivity. It’s also essential to consider that this applies to the entire EU area. In other words, a person from Italy can sue a company in Germany, and vice versa – any combination of EU countries can be involved. As a result, the risk of facing fines is now higher.
  • Stakeholders care but don’t have an established process for defining responsibilities to properly evangelize the problem and define the relevant task force across their company. Many people believe that SEO accessibility is only a concern for the accessibility team, but this is completely incorrect. SEO Accessibility impacts multiple sectors and divisions such as SEO, UX, development, legal, marketing, and more. As an SEO and marketing leader, you need to raise awareness that the EAA Act 2025 impacts the company on a higher level and establish cross-functional working groups as soon as possible. Start taking action: conversations alone won’t do the work. This is often due to a lack of a concrete and established process within the company on how to handle legal matters. Let’s face it – this won’t be the only law that will impact you as a marketing professional or the company as a whole. It’s important to define and develop frameworks for approaching these issues. Discuss this with management and establish clear guidelines on who will handle what, the intended outcome, and the deadline for completion.
  • Specific company teams (like accessibility and SEO) care about the European Accessibility Act but don’t have the right business case to present to management. If you ever worked with upper management and C-suite, you would know that everything needs to be about numbers, projections, expected outcomes, and planned work time intervals – if you don’t prepare this on time, you’re very likely to fail on your first try.

What SEOs Or Management Fail To Understand Or Underestimate About The European Accessibility Act 2025 And Why You Need To See The Bigger Picture

  • There are people who have a disability by default (long-term disability) but there are also people who have been disabled temporarily (a user broke an arm or whatever), so they cannot use your services and online website like they used to do before;
  • Disability is not physical only: it also includes mental states and challenges, so it’s more prominent among people than you might have estimated in the beginning. To be more precise, there are 4 main categories of disability to be aware of:
    • Motor
    • Cognitive
    • Auditory
    • Visual

15% of the world’s online users live with at least one sort of disability according to Billie Geena Hyde’s accessibility presentation.

  • When you optimize for SEO accessibility, you also optimize for normal users (no disabilities included) who use your e-commerce website in problematic conditions. Some examples include lack of light or too much light within a room, using your e-commerce apps outdoors or in crowded places like public transport, etc. Caring for accessibility on time is inclusive for everyone: not just for people with some disability in place;
  • The population in the European Union is aging…which means that more or less, the people using your e-commerce store have some disability by default. This is especially true for countries like Germany, Italy, and Finland where over 22% of the people in these nations are over 65 years old (aging of  Europe by 2020 – Wikipedia) and over 44% of the total population in Germany is over 50! If this didn’t trigger worry in you by now, you should start caring about receiving potential law fines today!
  • All EU countries will need to develop laws that are compatible with the European Accessibility Act and most probably they are going to differ slightly. That means that you will need all sorts of customized solutions for different countries, so being generally accessible is also far from ideal;
  • If you’re an e-commerce player, chances are you have a problematic page structure and a lack of proper templating. What does this mean for you? It means there were no specific rules on how your website components were developed during the coding process – sad but true in practice. 

If your software developers use React or a similar JavaScript framework, it’s highly probable that they didn’t have a clear view of how the end product should look. Therefore, they may have used different heading structures and logic that are not necessarily accessible or SEO-friendly.

  • Page templates and unstructured data such as text and images are the biggest obstacles from an accessibility standpoint but also present a significant opportunity for SEO improvement. That’s why accessibility and SEO go hand in hand, and you need to integrate both into your internal development, marketing, and legal processes;
  • The European Accessibility Act will initially target product-based websites such as e-commerce stores and platforms. However, it’s important to recognize that its scope will likely expand to other sectors in the future. This means that you too may be impacted soon. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider this now and take proactive measures to ensure your online website is prepared for this potential reality today;
  • Lack of a validation pipeline or a concrete process on how to validate the underlying data and the facts obtained from it. Contrary to this, WordLift has developed extensive know-how in validating knowledge graphs. Validation (also known as fact-checking) aims to evaluate whether a statement in a KG is semantically correct and corresponds to the so-called “real” world.

Therefore, WordLift uses advanced techniques to evaluate if an AI-generated paragraph is a representative or not of the underlying data that helped generate it. This allows us to limit the interaction with the content team while keeping the quality at a constant level. 

We also constantly improve the quality of the fine-tuned model by feeding it with content that is humanly reviewed and that keeps stable its rankings stable on Google’s SERP.  This way, SEOs, and content editors can work interactively with the fine-tuned model from WordLift’s dashboard to adapt the validation rules. Content guidelines change over time, and it’s essential to make things as simple as possible for human editors.

Let’s Talk Money – What Are The Revenue Opportunities For Someone Implementing Accessibility On Their Website?

We can take Germany and Italy as a benchmark in the EU. 

Germany has approximately 7.8 million severely disabled people based on 2021 data (9.36% of the total population in Germany). At the same time, according to Internet statistics, there are 94% of total German citizens with Internet access out of which 80.44% are active Internet users. The total number of active people with active Internet access that have a severe disability in Germany is (9.34% * 80.44%)/94% = 8% approximately of the total population in Germany. 

Germany has $46.795 per capita and 83,294,633 citizens so that makes 6663570.640000001 * $46.795 = 311.821.788.099 dollars = 311.822 million dollars = 312 billion dollars = 283 billion euros approximately! This is only for online sales opportunities – we don’t even calculate the offline ones even though they are impacted too by the ROPO effect (Research Online Purchase Offline). If we also factor that in, we can conclude that the money interval between the first and the second is a huge amount of money! 

Italy has 4.8% of the total population with at least one disability and that makes 2890264.08 citizens (Italy has 60213835 citizens in total in 2023). According to Internet statistics, there are 84.7% of the total citizens with Internet access, out of which 51 million users are active Internet users (84.45%). This makes (4.8%*84.45%)/84.7% = 4.78% of total citizens in Italy are active Internet users that have a disability or more precisely that’s 2878221.313 = 2.97 million people. The GDP per capita in Italy is $35,657.50 or that is 35,657.50 = 102.630176468 billion dollars = 93.20 billion euros for online sales! Again, the potential for offline sales is not included, as in the German case.

This is how proper business cases are developed: you need to speak the “money vocabulary” and (guess)estimate to convince your key stakeholders to take action now. We learned this the hard way too.

What’s The Reality In Other Countries, Especially Developed Ones?

At the current moment of speaking, Australia has the following accessibility laws in 2023, as shared by Nik Ranger by Dejan Marketing on Twitter:

  1. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  2. Web content accessibility guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) which is only applicable to Government websites
  3. The World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act (2014)

Let’s elaborate a bit about some of these Australian laws and what kind of consequences they brought for Australian online businesses. 

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) is a federal law in Australia that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in various areas of public life, such as employment, education, goods and services, and accommodation. The law requires that reasonable accommodations be made to ensure people with disabilities have equal access and opportunities.

Failing to comply with the DDA can have significant consequences for businesses, including penalties, fines, and damage to their reputation. Not implementing the DDA can also lead to lost business opportunities as consumers are more likely to support businesses that are committed to diversity and inclusion.

Businesses found to have breached the DDA can be fined and ordered to compensate victims of discrimination. They may also be required to implement changes to their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the law. Failure to implement the DDA can also result in negative publicity and reduced trust from customers and stakeholders, which can have long-term impacts on the success of the business.

In summary, businesses in Australia must comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to avoid legal and reputational consequences, as well as lost business opportunities. Providing equal access and opportunities to people with disabilities is essential for businesses to succeed and maintain customer and stakeholder trust.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) is an international standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that provides guidelines for making web content more SEO accessible to people with disabilities. In Australia, WCAG 2.0 is not a legal requirement, but it is recommended as a best practice for businesses to ensure equal access to their online services and websites. The consequences are similar to the law elaborated in the previous paragraph.

The U.S. on the other side has the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law in the United States that was established in 1990. Its objective is to safeguard the civil rights of people with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination in various areas such as employment, public accommodations, transportation, telecommunications, and more. According to the ADA, a disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities.”

The ADA contains several crucial provisions, such as Employment, which forbids employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotions, and job training. Public Accommodations require places that are open to the public, such as restaurants, hotels, and retail stores, to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes physical access, such as wheelchair ramps and accessible parking, and communication access, such as sign language interpreters and accessible websites. Transportation stipulates that public transportation systems, such as buses and trains, must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Telecommunications mandates that companies that provide telephone services must provide relay services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The ADA provides legal consequences for violating its provisions. Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, which can investigate and file a lawsuit against the violator. Violators may be required to pay damages to the individual who was discriminated against, as well as fines and other penalties.

There have been several high-profile lawsuits related to the ADA in the United States. For example, Walmart was sued in 2001 for failing to provide reasonable accommodations for its employees with disabilities. Walmart eventually settled the lawsuit for $6 million and agreed to modify its policies and practices. Netflix was also sued in 2012 for not providing closed captioning for all of its content, making it inaccessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Netflix settled the lawsuit for $755,000 and agreed to caption all of its content by 2014.

Overall, the ADA has been a crucial piece of legislation in the United States that has ensured that people with disabilities have equal access to employment, public accommodations, transportation, and other areas of life.

Ok, I Am Finally Convinced – What Are Some Great Ways To Make My Website More Accessible?

For both SEO and accessibility, you should use structured data. It powers voice search that helps people with different types of disabilities to navigate websites. This is already a reality within new chatbots like Bing Chat which are using structured data to understand the intent of the user and develop more accessible and engaging user experiences further. 

With WordLift you can add structured data to your website (e-commerce and not). So, using WordLift you can make your website more SEO accessible.

Let’s take a closer look at this together. By using WordLift, we can automate the process of data integration and create your connected graph. One way to achieve this is to decentralize the process by having each team publish its own JSON-LD files. For example, we can help your sales team publish their own sales data and ask them to link each sale to the correct product and client. 

In the second phase, we can connect GPT to the JSON-LD that your teams have published. Finally, we will be ready to harness the power of GPT to assist your new teams in publishing their own JSON-LD file data. This will help you integrate it back into your enterprise-wide knowledge graph.

According to Tony Seale, a knowledge graph engineer at UBS, “by following this simple process, you can create a reinforcing feedback loop that is capable of integrating ALL of your organization’s data.” UBS is doing it, Google is doing it, Microsoft is doing it, and big e-commerce players are doing this – then why wait?

WordLift’s KG helps us align LLMs like GPT-4 for generating high-quality content on a scale.

Here are some specific features that can help you out  with SEO accessibility:

We leverage the power of the latest large language models (LLMs), including BLIP2 and GPT-4, to offer a groundbreaking solution for advanced image captioning.
  • Video captions, summarization, and Q&A with contextual links.
  • Automated generation of frequently asked questions – FAQs
  • E-commerce specialized product knowledge graph powered ChatBot (in RD phase) – this is something that we’re currently working on. We at WordLift are studying and experimenting with a specific type of chatbot for e-Commerce using the product knowledge graph. By having a product knowledge graph (PKG) optimized for SEO that contains both product data and frequently asked questions about categories of products, a chatbot for an e-Commerce website can accurately provide customers with relevant information about the products they are interested in. This can improve the customer experience by making it easier for them to find what is best for them and make informed purchasing decisions. Additionally, the chatbot can use the knowledge graph to provide personalized recommendations based on the customer’s interests and previous interactions with the website.

Why Choose Wordlift As A Solution For Law-Compliant Accessibility & SEO Refinement?

Because we have not just the tools and the knowledge on how to implement everything properly to help you adhere to the new law requirements but also the know-how and the experience obtained from working with multiple small and big e-commerce players in the European Union. 

We know how to scale workflows and processes in the most customized, intuitive, and data-driven way so that you can take the most out of your investment on multiple fronts. We’re the ones who think in advance for you: building future-proof data pipelines and processes to help you develop new e-commerce solutions on top of your and our tech stack combined together.

We know how to build proper validation pipelines to help validate your SEO efforts – a missed opportunity for other SEO software players in the field because they don’t offer it in their tooling.

Moreover, we have proved that we’re pioneers in digital and marketing innovation, and are flexible with our clients, putting a lot of work to understand your specific business case to build custom and personalized solutions for your e-commerce business. What’s even more important, we don’t offer the typical SEO services like most SEO software providers, so we will perfectly complement your SEO tech stack to help you develop a solid search engine optimization strategy, implementation, and accessibility optimization. 

Ready to start with us today? Talk with our expert team.

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