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What I’ve Learned from 10 Years with Clinical Depression & Anxiety

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I have put off sharing my experiences with mental illness for a long time because I wanted to be “fixed” before I could feel like I was in a place to be giving advice to others.

I would have felt like a fraud to be telling others how things can get better, when I kept taking the odd step backward with my own mental health.

But here’s the secret: there is no “fixed,” and that is OK.

There isn’t a black and white divide between being happy and struggling through. And that is why we need to learn to give ourselves a break when we stumble or have a bad day, or a bad month. It’s OK.

I have always been a deeply private person; feeling more comfortable listening than holding the attention of others.

However, when I see others suffering, I feel that there is a greater need to do what I can to give those people out there some advice, and a bit of hope. So I’ve decided to put my privacy aside for this article.

That’s why I’d like to share my experiences with mental illness, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I hope it helps even one person feel less alone.

It’s thanks to my own support network as well as a much-needed push after reading Navah Hopkins’ great article on Search Engine Journal which inspired me to finally show this post the light of day, after years of going backward and forward between writing out my thoughts only to back out and scrap them.

My Experiences with Clinical Depression & Anxiety

I started experiencing symptoms of severe clinical depression at the age of 15.

As someone well-versed in hiding my emotions, I have always noted the surprise on doctors’ faces — both on the day of my diagnosis and on multiple occasions over the years — when I would come into their office with the most convincing smile and politeness I could muster, and then score in the mid-20s on the NHS Depression in Adults questionnaire.

Alongside depression, my anxiety levels soon started creeping up and I have been struggling with a combination of both for more than 10 years now.

Depression and anxiety are a really difficult combination to deal with.

The depression will sap you of your drive and energy, and the anxiety will be sending you waves of panic because you aren’t being as high-functioning as you could be.

The two are at constant war with one another. You’re sinking further underwater and losing touch with the world around you, but also feeling alarm bells ringing inside at the same time.

This is something I still struggle with, but where I am now compared to where I was 10 years ago is astonishing when I stop and think about it.

I was a very unhappy and lost teenager who couldn’t see a way forward for myself. I felt that applying to university would be dishonest because I didn’t see a future for myself, and I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time as I didn’t think I’d be around long enough to actually go.

I did apply, however. And with a combination of multiple visits to the campus doctor, a course of strong antidepressants and postponing my final year and graduating a year later than expected, I made it through with a degree to show for it.

My journey into technical SEO hasn’t been all smooth sailing, which I have written about previously. However, I have now reached a point in my career where I’m really proud of what I have achieved.

I have developed the internal strength and mental control to face new challenges, such as publishing articles and research pieces to wide audiences, as well as delivering technical talks at digital marketing conferences around the world.

By no means has this journey been easy; my progress has been down to a number of different factors that I have had to work really hard at over the years.

That’s why I’ve decided to put together some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my own experiences, in the hope that they can help others.

1. Open up & Talk

This is the first and most important step to getting better.

I know it can be overwhelming to consider letting someone else know how you’re feeling inside, because they’ll never understand and they’ll think you’re ‘crazy,’ right?

Wrong.

The people who matter will want to help you, and they will not judge you or see you any differently.

I’ve been surprised by how understanding people have been when I’ve told them about my illness, whether that’s family members, friends, or even bosses. It can be scary to strike up that conversation, but you’ll feel so much better once it’s out in the open.

Choose a few select people to tell about your illness and build your own support network of people who will be there to check in on you.

This will help to start clearing those feelings of loneliness, and your network will also be able to provide you with the support you need to go and talk to a doctor who will be able to help you plan out your recovery strategy.

2. Practice Mindfulness

This has been one of the most effective methods that have helped me over the years.

I’ve attended a variety of different types of therapy sessions in my time, but something really clicked for me in one particular CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) session.

I was given a thought sheet, which is a piece of paper with different columns where you write down your worry or negative thought, and then fill in the following details:

Thought-Sheet

At face value, I thought this was a basic method that wouldn’t be useful. I initially thought I would humor the therapist by trying it out.

However, the first time I filled it out I was able to see how unwell I really was and how unhealthy my existing mental processes were.

At that point, I had gone through 23 years of my life by letting my mind run completely wild with negative thoughts, never once pulling them up and questioning their validity.

But once I could write them down on paper and see a blank column for “facts that support the unhelpful thought” and a full column for “facts that provide evidence against the unhelpful thought,” everything changed.

Writing down your thoughts is step one, the next step is to practice this process internally, which is also known as mindfulness.

Restructuring the way you think is a challenge, but it’s essential to be able to live a happier, healthier life.

It can feel really alien at first to monitor your own brain for negative thoughts and then work through them one at a time, but it does work and starts to become a normal part of the way you think.

It takes practice and perseverance. Trust me.

Thinking about your own thoughts can feel exhausting at first. Training your mind in this way can feel like exercising a muscle that you’ve never used before.

But over time it gets easier, and the process becomes more immediate. When negative thoughts crop up you’ll be able to cut right into your internal dialogue with questions such as:

  • “Is there any evidence that I’m doing a bad job?”
  • “What about the time that x complimented me on my performance?”

3. Find an Exercise Routine That Works for You

When I’m feeling down, the last thing I want to do is leave the house, let alone physically exert myself.

But I always feel so much better once I’ve forced myself to go for a run or attend a gym class. It helps you push the reset button on your brain and return to the rest of your day with a calmer mind.

I’m someone who is really motivated by seeing progression, so signing up to a gym near my house has been great for me.

There are some classes that run through similar combinations of moves each week, and I’m able to see myself progressing as certain moves get easier for me each session, which gives me a real sense of accomplishment.

Push yourself to get out of the house a few times a week and go for a walk, a run, or a swim, anything. Just go and do something that can get your endorphins flowing. You’ll thank yourself for it once you’ve finished.

4. Give Yourself a Break

Don’t beat yourself up for having a tough time. This is where having anxiety can be a real problem when you have a low mood, as it fills you with overwhelming thoughts that you don’t have time to feel sad and that you’re letting yourself and everyone else around you down for not being at your best.

First of all, stop and breathe.

Whenever I feel like this, I practice a simple breathing exercise. Three slow, deep breaths. That’s it. This always works wonders for me and helps me reset.

And-Breathe

Secondly, this is perfectly normal. Every single one of us struggles from time to time.

Recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed and just take a step back and practice some self-care until you feel like yourself again.

Take some time to rest as well as doing some of the things you enjoy. I know that depression can rob you of your ability to enjoy things, but taking a break to rest first really helps to open me up to more positive feelings.

A “self-care” day will look different for everyone.

For example, my ideal rest day would probably involve a lie in, playing video games, a yoga session, a bubble bath, and a walk in nature where I can pet some dogs.

If I’ve had a tough day, my partner will take me out on a walk to our local park to look at dogs. It’s simple but it works every time!

5. Give Back

Nothing can pull me out of a dark place like seeing someone else hurting. Helping someone else with their problems can transport you away from your own darkness.

Make a note to check in with the people you care about every now and again and see if there’s any way you can support them.

We all like to brush things off and say that everything is fine, so instigating a genuine conversation with someone about how they’re feeling can be incredibly impactful. It’s important that we all take the time to acknowledge and check in with each other on a deeper level.

As well as helping people in your immediate network, think about other ways in which you can use your own experiences to give advice and support to others struggling with mental illness. It might be starting a blog on mental health, or raising money for charities like Mind or Samaritans, for example.

As painful as it can be to suffer from a mental illness, I believe that it gives you the superpower of enhanced empathy.

You know what it’s like to hurt, so you have a heightened sense of the pain in others and wanting to help them feel better so they don’t have to experience the kinds of things that you yourself have felt.

Embrace your powers and share them with the people around you.

In Summary

I’ve made a lot of progress with managing my mental health up until this point, but I’m not completely “fixed,” as this is an unhealthy idea that isn’t realistic.

Instead of striving for a place of perfection, we need to keep working toward being more understanding and forgiving of ourselves over time.

This post originally was published on Medium, and has been republished with permission of the author.

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Image Credits

Screenshot taken by author, August 2019
In-Post Image: Max van den Oetelaar/Unsplash



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Why behavior analysis is important online business

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30-second summary:

  • A typical consumer now owns an average of 3.6 devices which means a person’s journey may start from a laptop and end on a mobile or a tablet.
  • In the ecommerce business, the cart abandonment rate is the thing that haunts most of the business owners.
  • Developing analytical skills can help you better manage these obstacles.
  • MD of SEO Discovery shares a guide to help you understand Cohort Analysis and Behavior Analysis to eliminate roadblocks and improve engagement.

In today’s digital age, the customer journey is getting complex day by day and if you are doing online business then it’s vital to understand your customer journey. A typical consumer now owns an average of 3.6 devices which means a person’s journey may start from a laptop and end on a mobile or a tablet.

In the ecommerce business, the cart abandonment rate is the thing that haunts most of the business owners. According to Statista, 88.05 percent of online shopping orders were abandoned in March 2020 worldwide, which means over 88% of people added selected products into the cart and left without buying for various reasons. This is a massive business opportunity loss for ecommerce players.

Developing analytical skills can help you better manage these obstacles. Without adequate knowledge of analytics, your marketing won’t work because you won’t know what worked and what didn’t work. All the marketing suits come with analytics tools to help perceive the behavior, engagement metrics, and demographics of the visitors coming to a website. The most common web analytics tools are Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Kiss Metrics, and Mixpanel. They generally come with the following features and capabilities:

  • Real-time analytics
  • Mobile analytics
  • Attribution modeling
  • Segmentation
  • Ecommerce tracking
  • Funnel analysis
  • Cohort analysis
  • Cross-device tracking
  • In-page analytics (Session recording, click tracking, heatmaps)
  • Goal conversion tracking
  • Event tracking
  • A/B testing

Every feature has its own data sets which can be compared to help you make informed decisions. Today we are going to understand Cohort Analysis and Behavior Analysis to eliminate roadblocks and improve engagement.

What is a Cohort Analysis and why is it important?

Cohort analysis is a subset of users grouped by shared characteristics. It simply allows you to compare the behavior and metrics of different cohorts over time.

Cohort Analysis Example – Finding Engagement Drop

Let’s suppose you have an online food ordering website/app and using acquisition date (when users started their first sessions) cohorts you can find out when in the customer lifecycle your users tend to drop off.

Cohort table for behavior analysis

The best way for visualizing this data is to chart out the retention curve, portraying retention over time.

Cohort Curve - Behavior analysis

This retention curve clearly reflects the most important insight – around 75% of the users stop using the website after the first day. We can see a downfall in the engagement. Hence, it’s evident to improve the overall experience and abet customers through daily offers/coupons to boosting retention.

Cohort Analysis Comparison – Organic vs Direct

The below cohort analysis indicates that organic traffic has a better retention rate than direct.

Cohort - Organic vs Direct - Behavior analysis

 

Visitor behavior analysis and its importance

It’s a process of tracking user behavior on a website and there are some great tools in the market that give accurate information. Tools like Hotjar, MouseFlow, Crazy Egg record visitor sessions to see how visitors are navigating on the website. They also offer click tracking and heatmaps to analyze the most engaging and ignored (skipped) elements on a page.

Screenshot - Mouseflow - Understanding visitors' behavior analysis

If you look at the above heatmap, you would notice that no one bothered to click on “PORTFOLIO” in the top menu, which means people aren’t interested in see the portfolio. Maybe we have to replace it with something more interesting (like Case Studies, Achievements, and more) which grabs a visitor’s attention. These kinds of insights help you add/remove elements to improve page engagement.

Using filters, you can further segment your audience to dig deep and pull out actionable insights, see those filter below:

Screenshot - Mouseflow_Filters

In Google Analytics, behavior flow gives you a visual presentation of how people are navigating on your website. You can apply segments to get a deeper view of their behavior and it also enables you to apply different dimensions on top of these segments to get actionable insights.

 GA Behaviour Flow

The power of these analytical tools lies in the fact that it allows you to view which customers leave and what’s making them leave your website/app – so that you can fix it. You can also hire a professional digital marketing agency that can help you find these hurdles and remove them to enhance your overall engagement.

Mandeep Singh is the MD of SEO Discovery. He’s mission is to provide affordable digital marketing services to startups and SMEs. He’s an official member of Forbes Agency Council. You can find him on LinkedIn.



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Top 15 Chrome extensions for social media marketers

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30-second summary:

  • When it comes to the internet browser, Google Chrome, with its extensive list of extensions is the indisputable chart-topper.
  • As a digital marketer, you have to keep track of so many things – different projects at various stages of development, research, reporting, new leads, existing clients, et cetera.
  • Bhavik Soni shares a list of the top 15 Chrome extensions that will make social media marketers more productive, smart, and efficient.
  • These are categorized into extensions for – Productivity, research and tracking, content creation and implementation, and digital marketing. Dive in!

When it comes to the internet browser, Google Chrome, with its extensive list of extensions is the indisputable chart-topper. From simple theme-based to technical coding-related, the extension list in chrome is practically endless.

This extension-packed list also boasts a wide variety of efficient social media extensions that boost professionalism, punctuality, and productivity. And, who wouldn’t love a convenient free plugin that makes life easier!

As a digital marketer, you have to keep track of so many things – different projects at various stages of development, research, reporting, new leads, existing clients, et cetera. These extension apps create a focus-orientated and organized work environment by keeping marketers updated on project developments, sending to-do reminders, enhancing content, and more.

In short, these install-and-use plugins act as the ace up their sleeves for social network marketers. They work as useful gadgets and trained assistants. They are the must-have social media marketing tools for every marketer.

You can optimize and make Google work for you in a jiffy by adding these 15 Chrome Extensions to your browser today.

Chrome Productivity Extensions

1. StayFocused: App block & website block google chrome extension

Designed to boost productivity, the StayFocused extension limits the amount of time you spend on vanity Googling. It offers the brute force you need somedays to anchor your focus to what’s more important.

Pricing:

Free

2. Momentum: Personal dashboard new tab chrome extension

Perhaps, Momentum is the best Chrome extension for productivity. It steers your focus from idle to important by motivating you with quotes, encouraging positivity with mantras, and inspiring with serene photography. Features like Daily Focus, To-Do, Countdowns, Metrics, Event Reminder and Links help you browse the internet with intent. What’s more? The plus version is available for just $3.33/month.

Pricing

$3.33/month

Research and tracking extensions

3. Diigo Web Collector: Highlighter and bookmarker for chrome

Diigo is a research chrome extension that lets you highlight important phrases, bookmark and save pages, write notes, and collect references at a single place. It comes in handy for social media marketers, who generally invest hours in R&D for planning a campaign, learning trends, and comparing the competitor’s strategy.

Pricing:

Free

4. Google Analytics URL Builder: Online UTM tracking

This is a tracking extension that lets you build UTM parameters. With the help of this plugin, you will be able to gauge the effectiveness of the UTM tags used in the campaigns. Google Analytics URL Builder also allows you to share templates with others, saves time when you have to generate URLs manually, and shares progress with clients.

Pricing:

Free

5. Ghostery: Makes web cleaner, faster, and safer

Ghostery is designed to block ads and trackers, this productivity chrome extension makes a great social media marketing tool. With its help, you will be able to learn the trackers on the competitor’s sites that they use to attract, engage, and convert the visitors.

Pricing

$11.99 USD /month/user*

6. SpyFu: SEO and PPC tools for professionals

Yet another efficient tracker extension that lets you peek into the competitor’s site data. Spyfu reveals extensive information, including where the competitor appeared on Google in the past nine years. The social media marketing (SMM) plugin also shows all keywords bought on AdWords, every ad variation, and every organic rank for $33/month.

Pricing

$33/month

Content creation and implementation

7. Canva: Design is all around us

How social media advertising will perform relies a lot on visuals. Photo-driven platforms like Instagram and Pinterest yield better ROI than content-driven Twitter or Facebook. It is because photos get more engagement. To ensure you can make most of this social media trend, creating impressive and attention-grabbing posts become imperative. It is where Canva comes into the picture.

Pricing

Free

8. Figure it Out: Solve your time zone pain

A digital marketer works for clients and target audiences in different time zones. For them, Figure it Out proves to be a handy tool. It is an extension that lets you keep track of up to 10 time zones, and makes scheduling posts accordingly.

Pricing

Free and paid ($3/month)

9. WhatFont: Identify fonts on web pages

We get it, fonts are tricky. Download an app, and it gives you hundreds of fonts that are too similar-looking, too familiar, or too quirky for your campaign. One day you browse a site – may be a competitor’s – and find just the font you were looking for but have no clue which one it is.

That’s when WhatFont comes to the rescue. A single click and it reveals not only the name but also the family, style, weight, size, line height, and color of the font.

Pricing

Free

10. Unsplash Instant: Beautiful photos in your new tab

For every social media marketing post, there is a tedious task to find high-quality, professional stock pictures, usually for free. Unsplash Instant lets you find great photos ranging from flowers and skies to desktops and artsy portraits. You can save them for free and use it for all kinds of commercial use.

Pricing

Free

11. Colorzilla: Advanced colorful goodies

Colorzilla allows you to hover over any color shown on a webpage and learn about its hex code for future use in a social media ad post. With this plugin, you will be able to create consistent color themes, appealing visuals, and come up with perfect palettes.

Pricing

Free

12. Sniply: Drive conversion through content

Social media promotions through third-party content are more effective when they include a tempting call-to-action that takes the reader to your own online space. Sniply helps you make those conversion-generating posts by letting you add custom CTA to any piece of content. On the dashboard, the plugin will show how many clicks your links are getting and the level of engagement for tracking purposes.

Pricing

$29/month

Digital marketing extensions

13. IFTTT for Marketing and social media automation

IFTTT free digital marketing extension syncs multiple apps and automates them, thus saving a lot of time and effort. In simple terms, you could post a pic on a dozen different platforms all at once.

Pricing

Free

14. Buffer: Share content easily

With this social media extension, you will be able to schedule and manage posts across different platforms. Buffer will also let you follow up with analytics to track the performance of each post.

Pricing

$85/mo

15. LastPass: Free password manager

By downloading the LastPass Chrome extension, you will not need to remember dozens of passwords to each social media platform. This free password manager will do it for you. You could also create a master password through LastPass.

Pricing

Free

Let’s sum it up

Here’s a guide to 15 best Chrome extensions available for social media marketers. From saving bookmarks to managing posts and passwords, these plugins will work as assistants to digital professionals.

Note: Details like pricing are subject to change as per the respective tool provider.

Bhavik Soni is a Creative Writer at Auto Monkey. We provide an original analysis of the latest happenings in the social media industry. Connect with Latest Social Media Trends and News plus tips on Twitter, Facebook, and other social tools on the web.



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How to make your website ADA-compliant and win at SEO

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30-second summary:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 does now include mobile apps and websites.
  • An ADA-compliant website helps more people than those covered by ADA.
  • There are many SEO benefits such as increased visibility on google image searches, and featured snippets.
  • Co-founder of Ally digital media, Abhishek Shah says, “Responsive websites help with ADA compliance and further improve your website’s overall search presence.”
  • The four best ways to make your website ADA-compliant with a clear outline of its ADA as well as SEO benefits.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 does now include mobile apps and websites. Specifically, Title III of the ADA has taken an official stand on how websites should be accessible for disabled users. However, when you look at what’s necessary to make a website ADA-compliant, you will see that these also will help improve your site’s SEO.

Some elements such as title tags, heading structure, alt text, and responsive design are things all websites should include. By ensuring these are done properly and in an ADA-compliant way will maximize your website’s effectiveness.

How ADA accessibility prioritization benefits everyone

Ensuring your website complies with the ADA helps you serve a larger audience and gives a boost to your search engine rankings. This is because most of the necessary components of making your website ADA compliant feed directly into SEO best practices.

After all, the whole point is to make your website easier to view, understand, and navigate. What business doesn’t want all that for their website?

Four ways an ADA-compliant website helps improve your SEO

Here are 4 ADA-compliant must-haves (in no particular order) that will help improve your SEO. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good place to start.

1. Title tags help screen searches and readers

Title tags are very basic SEO. They let the reader, and search engines, know what the page is about. A title tag doesn’t show up on your website. Rather, it appears on the results page of a search engine, and the tab at the top of your web browser.

SEO benefits

Title tags, while basic SEO, are very important. This tag needs to match your user’s intent. For example, when someone googles “best phone” the phrase best phone (or a variation like “best smartphone”) will appear in the title tag.

Writing a title that accurately reflects what the page is about is the best way to get found and clicked on. It’s why a title tag should be specific: “The best Android phones for 2020” is far better than “Why you will want to buy one of these phones.”

ADA benefits

For those who need screen readers to help them use a computer, a specific title tag such as the above example is much more user-friendly. So, it is vital the title tag accurately reflects the page content.

The accessibility guidelines say the title should be “The best Android phones for 2020” instead of “Why you will want to buy one of these phones.”

2. Descriptive alt text

Alt text is not the same thing as a caption. A caption is visible usually beneath an image. Whereas alt text is not visible on the front end of the site. The alt text is a written alternative to a page’s visual elements. This includes: .jpegs, .pngs, and .gifs. the alt text is a description of an image that lives in the backend of the site.

SEO benefits

Alt text lets search engines know the subject matter of an image. It also helps search engines to better understand the page. Additionally, if you want images to show up in Google, then writing descriptive alt text is a must-have.

ADA benefits

For web users with visual impairment using screen readers, descriptive alt text is read aloud. This helps a visually impaired reader get a better sense of what’s going on, on any given page.

A useful descriptive alt text might be: “woman at café with laptop drinking coffee” 

A useless alt text would be: “SEO tips for freelancers | Get more clients with SEO | Writing your way to success with SEO”

3. Responsive design

Responsive design has been around since 2012/2013 in one form or another. But it means more than just your website being able to adapt to whichever screen size it finds itself on.

It’s about where your logo sits, how easy is your site to navigate, how easy is it to read, and how quickly does it load?

SEO benefits

Websites that offer good, functional user experience rank better in search results. User experience isn’t just one ranking factor but an umbrella term for quite a few. Google has said that a site that takes longer than three seconds to load on a mobile site will rank higher.

How easy content is to read (and how useful it is) is also an important ranking factor.

ADA benefits

Good responsive design puts the user first. It starts from the premise that a website needs to be easy to look at, easy to navigate, and be easy to understand.

This is why you need legible text for the visually impaired. As well as quick load times for people with slow internet. And straightforward navigation to make it easy for people to get around your website.

4. Proper heading (and subheading) structure

Headings (which show up in the code as <h1> or <h2> or <h3> etc.) define your content’s hierarchy. These headings (and subheadings) work along similar lines to when you wrote essays in school.

Proper heading structure:

  • Goes in order: a h3 doesn’t go directly after a h1.
  • Describes the copy beneath it.
  • Follows a sequence: if your h2 is “4 ways…” then the h3s would be each of those points.

SEO benefits

When your writing is clearly structured it is easier to read, and easier to follow. It’s also easier for Google to crawl your content and understand what is the most important (starting with h1, and so on).

Good header structure can also your content appear in the featured snippets in the search engine results page (SERPs).

ADA benefits

For users who have limited reading comprehension or cognitive impairments, clear and direct headings make it easier to read. Headings and subheadings let a reader know what’s worth reading and what’s worth skipping over.

And just like a reader skips heading, so too can a screen reader. Which only reinforces the need for a strong, clear heading structure.

An example of a website that has both good SEO and is ADA compliant is Enviro Safety Products. When you review this site you will see it ticks all the boxes, and provides the user a seamless, friendly experience.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA-compliant) - Example

Source: Enviro Safety Products

How making your website ADA compliant will help you win at SEO

By applying all the necessary ADA compliant elements to your website, you are helping the one in four Americans with a disability use your website. Additionally, you will also greatly enhance your website’s SEO.

If you would like to know more about how making your website ADA compliant will help you win at SEO, you can throw questions in the comments section below.

Abhishek Shah is the co-founder of Ally Digital Media, a leading voice in digital media and marketing. He advocates for evidence-based marketing strategies to fuel the businesses. He can be found on Twitter @abiishek.





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