Headings, content, and readability are three key factors you should consider while creating and editing your webpage. Knowing how to properly phrase and format headings can help improve your site’s SEO, which would lead to more engagement with your site overall. The readability of your webpage depends directly on the content of your page. Easier to understand, well-organized content can help with readability score.
Webpage headings are more important than printed headlines. Online, headlines help to engage the reader and easily inform them what the page is about.
Headings come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
They often are formatted as:
- Help to answer exactly what your reader is thinking
- Tips: keep them short and sweet, cover only one question per section
- Example: “Why Vaccinate?” would be a solid heading for an audience who may be wondering just that, why they should vaccinate.
- Often used as second level headings to help answer the main question of the page
- Phrase as if you are talking directly to the reader
- Help to make key messages stand out
- Verb Phrases
- Call to action
- Helps reader know their place/job
- Helps to avoid repetition
A maximum of three levels of headings is normal. Level one headings are mainly used only for the article title. Headings should only be included where absolutely necessary. If you struggle with where to place a headline, the creation of an outline may be helpful.
Headings are often organized in a hierarchical pattern, with the most important headings being the largest text and the least important being the smallest. The coloring of headings should not vary strongly from the paragraph text color. Remember: the color blue and underlining are reserved for links and should not be used for regular headings.
The website linked below is a great example of two levels of headings.
Below is another, straight forward example of three levels of headings, shown as a screenshot from the article “How to use headings on your site” from Yoast SEO.
In order to help improve your page’s SEO, you may decide to make your headlines include the words that most readers may search on google, bing, or other search engines. If headline wording is close enough to what a viewer may search, webpage traffic could potentially increase.
As stated by Janice (Ginny) Redish in Letting Go of the Words,
“Seven guidelines for headlines that work well are: use your site visitors’ words, be clear instead of cute, think about your global audience, try for a medium length [sentence] (about eight words), use a statement, question, or call to action, combine labels (nouns) with more information, and add a short description if people need it.”
Overall, well-written and formatted headlines help your viewers to use the grab ‘n’ go concept with their needed information and quickly find the exact section/answers they need. The viewer will be able to follow the flow of your information, and control how much they view at once.
In order to know how to correctly format your headlines, and what words to choose, you must know how to phrase your webpage content. The term “content” can mean a variety of things when discussing webpages, but for now we will focus mainly on how best to style content on a webpage.
When content is properly engaging, it is relevant, targeted, and does not waste the viewer’s time. On a webpage, the content should be a conversation with the viewer.
- Be short and sweet
- Use short sentences, usually 10-20 words. Sentence fragments are also allowed.
- Be clear and concise
- Format paragraphs for grab ‘n’ go reading style
- Talk to your readers
- Use I, You, and We as if you were in a conversation
- Start with the main context
- Focus on the information that the reader does and does not need to know
When following this list of standards for the content of a webpage, your site will excel in readability.
Readability is exactly that: the ability to read.
Therefore, strong readability means that webpages are easy to read and accessible to all. Readability matters in all scenarios and professions.
Three content readability tools that are often used include:
- Provides analytics and statistics
- Shows word, letter, and syllable counts
- Shows adjective, noun, and adverb use
- Uses Automated Readability Index
- Highlights sentences you can shorten or break up
- Picks out long words and offers alternative options
- Lists short words that can be used to replace long, current words
- Helps with government communication standards
As we now have seen, strong headings and content can help readability. Well-placed headings help to guide what and how much the viewer sees at one time. If you, the webpage writer, take the time to put the context first, it will make your website that much stronger.
Alderson, Jono. How to use Headings on your Site. Yoast: SEO for Everyone, 07 December 2020. https://yoast.com/how-to-use-headings-on-your-site/.
Blog Hands. “Tips and Tools for Improving Your Content Readability Score.” Medium, Medium, 24 May 2018, medium.com/@bloghands/tips-and-tools-for-improving-your-content-readability-score-eed82e2ffa87. Accessed 19 Sept. 2021.
Lynch, Patrick J., and Sarah Horton. Web Style Guide, 4th Edition : Foundations of User Experience Design, Yale University Press, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/gvsu/detail.action?docID=4612480. Created from gvsu on 2021-09-18 23:09:42.
Tanton, Sharon. “Which Words Does Your Website Need? – Valuable Content.” Valuable Content, 12 June 2017, www.valuablecontent.co.uk/blog/words-website-need. Accessed 18 Sept. 2021.
Redish, Janice. Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works. Available from: VitalSource Bookshelf, (2nd Edition). Elsevier S & T, 2012.
3 Tools to Improve Your Content’s Readability | Forge and Smith.” Forge and Smith, Vancouver Web Design Company, 29 Sept. 2017, forgeandsmith.com/blog/3-tools-to-improve-your-contents-readability/#The_Hemingway_Editor. Accessed 19 Sept. 2021.