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Writing Content for the Web

Writing Content for the Web

This guide provides tips and guidelines for creating great web content -- content that is scannable, accessible and maximizes search engine rankings (SEO). This guide covers:

Content and Style Guidelines

  • Follow the University of Dayton style guide and brand guidelines.
  • Don’t assume readers have looked at the rest of your website; the page might be the first page they entered in your site. Treat each page as if it stands alone, and link back to other pages when needed.
  • Each page should have a purpose and one main idea. Start with your most important content, keeping it brief and simple to understand. Cut your text down to the most important words; don't waste space with things like welcome messages or extraneous information. People scan-read content so help them get straight to key information.
  • Use headings, lists and well-written links to break up large blocks of text to help people scan. Headings increase the usability and accessibility of a page.
  • Our brand addresses the audience directly— write to the reader using second person ("you" voice). Speak to a global audience; use gender-neutral words and avoid language that would be confusing for an international reader.
  • Avoid using the passive tense. Reword sentences to make them active -- they're more engaging.
  • For accessibility and responsive design purposes, avoid directional words like “see below” or “to the right”, as the page layout can change depending on the device they’re using to access the site.
  • Make sure your pages are updated regularly and contain fresh content (especially important for pages with dates, contact information, index pages, etc.). Visitors expect to see something new when they visit.

    Writing and Managing Links

  • Make use of links throughout the page — if you mention something on another Web page, lead readers to it.
  • Hyperlinks should describe where they’re going; they shouldn’t say things like “click here” or "more".

Formatting Content for Web Use

  • Don’t use underlined words in copy (underlining is for links only), and use bold, italics and exclamation points sparingly.

    Don't use bold or font size to imitate heading styles. Instead, apply Cascade's pre-formatted heading styles.
  • Use heading styles in descending outline order (H2 is a primary topic, H3 is a secondary topic, H4 - H6 are sub-sub topics).
  • Do not skip a heading level. For example, don't use H6 just because you like the appearance of it. H6 should only be used as a sub heading to H5 content.
  • Properly formatted headings improve scanability and accessibility.

    Use the pre-formatted bulleted and numbered list styles available in Cascade. Do not create bullets or add list numbers manually.

Proofreading and Link Checking

  • Proofread and double-check everything before it gets published — spelling, grammar, names and links should all be checked.
  • Publish to the Staging Server and check your pages carefully.

SEO Tips and Best Practices

  • Offer original, valuable and relevant content to readers. 
  • Think in search terms. Use keywords throughout the copy that describe content and match the phrases readers are searching on.
  • Embed keywords in places like the title, headings, links, metadata and image alt tags as well as the copy.
  • Make each page unique by with its own topic, title and keywords.
  • Make sure the keywords represent the page’s topic.
  • Use the most relevant and popular keywords that apply to your page.
  • Use analytics to determine if people are visiting your page. If not, try reworking the page, consolidating its information elsewhere or deleting it.
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