Naming pages is hard.  It may not seem like a tough task, but it can actually become pretty complex.  You have to balance your various audiences and clearly explain what content is on a page using only a few words.  No easy feat.

Naming the pages on your website is also one of the most important things you’ll do in the process of building a new site.  It impacts everything from user experience to design to search engine optimization.  Even the most wonderful website can quickly become ineffective if the page names make no sense to your visitors.

Fear not woeful writer of website content.  Asking the following key questions will help guide you in crafting those perfect page names.

Will my target audience know what these words mean?

It’s common (and tempting) to use jargon in page names.  But unless you’re targeting those already well versed in your field, drop the insider lingo.  Most people won’t know what it means.

In order to do this, you’ll first need to determine the target audience(s) for your website.  There are a variety of ways knowing your audience impacts your website.  Page names (and subsequently navigation) are definitely one such way.

Will visitors know what to expect on this page?

In addition to simply using understandable language, you need to make sure your visitors will know what content they’ll find if they visit a given page.

I’d recommend developing the page name and outlining the type of content you envision for the page.  Then, circle back to the name and make sure it conveys the type of information you’re planning to tackle on the page.

If it does, great!  You’re all set.  If it misses the mark, revise either the name or the content (or both) to match.  One great way to keep your website visitors happy is to ensure they know what content they’ll find on each of your pages.

Is there any way to be more succinct without sacrificing clarity?

When naming your pages, it’s important to get to the point.  Don’t use unnecessary words.  Keep your page names short and clear.

Limiting page names to a few words also helps with the design of your site.  If a page is going to display in your navigation, a long name can look pretty awful.  Cut those names as short as possible without sacrificing clarity.

Would someone type these words into a search engine?

This question applies to organizations looking to boost the traffic they get from search, which is (or at least should be) most nonprofits.

Search engines use the content on your site to determine what each page is all about.  One of the many important pieces of content search engines look at is the name of your page.

In order to drive more traffic from search, you’ll need to use words people are typing into search engines.  Not only will this help search engines, but it also will appeal to your visitors since your page names reflect the information they’re seeking.

Do you have any other questions you think can help nonprofits better name the pages on their websites?  Or have you come across a site that does this particularly well (no shame in sharing your own here)?  Let me know in the comments.