How to name web content

This guide applies to web and intranet content; HTML (web pages), documents and images.

Web authors and moderators should understand these concepts and apply them when creating or editing content.

Why naming is important

Most people use search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo! or internal search) to find what they're looking for.

Get your naming right will improve search results. There a few guidelines that you can follow and a couple of tools that will help.

Search engines use titles, summaries, keywords, content  and subheadings to help index content and return search results.

Your content should meet a user need. Identifying the user need will help you understand who is looking for the content and the vocabulary they will use.

We all tend to use specific words relating to some of our services. But, the public may not be familiar with these terms. Test out several terms to see which are more commonly used.

Once you know the most popular keywords you can prioritise them in the:

  • title
  • first sentence/paragraph
  • subheadings
  • "metadata" summary

Google Trends is a good tool that can help you pick the right term to use.

The web team can help you out with internal search terms used to find content on our website and intranet. Google no longer provides search terms in analytics.


  • You should apply these guidelines in selecting a title. This includes pdfs.
  • 65 characters maximum, including spaces, as Google cuts off titles at this length
  • your title should be unique; duplicate or near duplicate content will confuse your reader
  • make your title clear and descriptive: "Report sickness absence" not "Sickness"
  • front-load with the most important information and the words the user is mostly likely to have searched for
  • use active verbs: "report" rather than "reporting"
  • avoid all but the most commonly used acronyms or abbreviations (IT, FoI, 3G)
  • avoid word play (you’ll confuse your readers and Google)
  • don't use dates or version numbers unless essential and/or descriptive – for example, a series of statistical reports: "Staff absence numbers 2015 to 2016“ not “July 06 WDC absence v.1 FINAL”


Content can help searachability

Invert the pyramid • • •Put any “call to action” at the top