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Headings and titles

Most people start their search for information with a search engine. If they can’t find your page, they won’t be reading your content.

To help users find your content, you have to use their vocabulary and keywords, starting with your page title, summary, and first paragraph.

Find the right keywords

Use search tools like Google Trends to compare different versions of headings to see which will be more effective. What you’re calling the subject of your page might not be what your users are calling it. With Google Trends, you can input two or more different words or phrases and see over time how often people have searched for them. Generally, it’s best to use whichever phrase is used more often in your heading.

For example, the phrase extractive industries is commonly used in government to describe oil, gas, and mineral extraction on federal land and offshore areas, but extractive industries isn’t a familiar term for many users (and there aren’t very many searches for that term). To help make content more findable, the Natural Resources Revenue Data site includes familiar terms like natural resources, fossil fuels, and renewable energy whenever possible.

Optimize the content

Once you know the most popular keywords, you can incorporate them judiciously in:

  • Titles
  • Headings
  • Introductions and summaries
  • Chapter and section titles
  • Metadata descriptions

See also: information about heading capitalization.

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18F Content Guide is a product of GSA’s Technology Transformation Services, and is managed by 18F.

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