Instructional Leadership, emphasis: K-12 School Leadership (MEd)
Students walking next to N A U "Founded 1899" sign on campus.

Web best practices guide

NAU web best practices

Why are web design best practices so important?

Even a seemingly small design detail like a navigation bar can be important, making or breaking the relationship with students, faculty, and staff. If a web visitor struggles to find the information they need, they could get frustrated and leave the website—a lost opportunity to win over a potential student.

Here are a few more general reasons to pay attention to website best practices:

  • Create a great first impression: When visitors come to your website, you want them to be interested and engaged. A well-designed website will draw in visitors and encourage them to keep clicking, spending more time on the site. Think of a website like a modern business card. It’s all about first impressions.
  • Improve your SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) rankings take into account all elements of your page, including an evaluation of your site’s performance, content, links, and more. Providing a good user experience and easy-to-find information can improve your ranking.
  • Maintain consistent branding: NAU has established a brand identity that helps distinguish us from other universities. This brand identity consists of everything from the appearance of the logo to the color schemes and messaging used in marketing campaigns. Your website is a valuable tool in reinforcing this brand identity.
Probability of abandoning page increases 
if page load time increases from 1 to 5 seconds.
– Google/SOASTA Research, 2017
smartphone users will immediately switch to another site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs.
– Google/Ipsos, U.S., August 2015

Note that web design isn’t the same as web development. While the design is about how a website looks (its form), development is about its function. Web development refers to the work happening behind the scenes (e.g., the coding that determines how the website reacts when the user clicks on a button). Web design is what you see front and center.

Consistent branding

It’s important to keep branding consistent across all domains. The logo, color scheme, and iconography should remain consistent. The same holds true for the brand voice and key messaging. You want to reinforce your value proposition, aesthetics, and tone across your website.

Using consistent branding throughout your site helps visitors recognize NAU and establishes trust.

A consistent color scheme is part of any strong visual brand identity. Think of some of the biggest brands you know—you can probably immediately name their signature colors. For example, Coca-Cola has red and white, while Walmart has their blue/yellow scheme, and McDonald’s has the golden arches against a red backdrop.


Good website navigation is characterized by the site’s information architecture and a primary navigation bar, keeping the user experience and journey through your site intuitive and easy to follow. Help guide the user through your site with a primary navigation bar (menu bar), clear communication telling the user what they’ll find when they click on a page (e.g., “degrees,” “resources,” “about”), and proper parent-to-child page relationships.

If you make it easy for users to navigate your website, you’ll give them a deeper, more engaging experience.


  • Use simple, recognizable terms like “About,” “Degrees,” and “Resources” on your site’s navigation. Don’t use unique word choices just for the sake of doing something different; it could confuse your users and cause inconsistencies across NAU sites.
  • Use NAU standard menu items/order. “Degrees & programs” far left; “About” on far right; “Experience,” “Events,” and others to the right; “Resources” for current students and faculty; and “Community” for prospective student-facing content.
  • Tailor your navigation to your content. You might only need a few navigation links if you have a website with limited pages. With larger sites, you might need more detailed navigation. Descriptive menus, with headings and formatting, give your users a clear path to find the information they need when there’s a lot of available content.
  • Breadcrumbs track and display where a user is on a website. They let a user easily return to a previous page by retracing their steps.
  • Don’t link top-level menu items (About, Resources, etc.); this should simply open the tab drawer.
  • Always use sentence-case capitalization except when using proper nouns or official NAU degree names.

Parent/child pages

Parent/child pages are important components of a website’s information architecture and URL structure.

  • Parent page: A parent page is a top-level page with child pages nested under it.
    • For example, you could have an “About” page as a top-level or parent page with child pages such as “Mission and values” nested underneath it.
    • A parent page can have multiple child pages nested underneath it.
  • Child page: A child page is a lower-level subpage nested under a parent page with specific information about one or two things.
    • For example, if you have a child page such as “Mission and values” nested under “About,” it will be reflected in the site’s breadcrumb and URL:
    • There is no set limit to how many child pages can be nested under a parent page, but it’s important to be mindful of how child pages are nested and ensure the topics are related.

If a parent/child relationship exists on the site, always use the menu to link to the parent page and only link to child pages when they are commonly needed by users of your site.


  • Meaningful hyperlink text
    • Include hyperlinks on meaningful text within your page. Because people scan rather than read text on the web, it’s important to choose appropriate text when placing links on a webpage. The link text should always describe what the user will see when they click on it. Do not use “Read more” or “Click here” language, nor the URL itself as your linked text. Rather, link an appropriate snippet of the text within the paragraph or sentence. Using more descriptive hyperlink text will help guide users and explain where the link will take them.
    • Meaningful link text is more accessible to all users but especially helps people who are using assistive technology to read webpages. To help users best navigate the site from your pages, always use descriptive and contextually meaningful link text (e.g., “internship application form” or “upcoming CAL performances and events”) instead of non-specific labels (e.g., “click here”). This is covered under Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • Search engines use the link text as metadata to help in their rankings. A “Click here” button or URL does not give them any additional information, but the meaningful text does.
  • Using an anchor link, which links to a specific element on a page, will allow site visitors to quickly find the information they are looking for, allowing them to jump to different sections of the page that are most relevant to them.
  • Do not manually bold links.

Link examples

  • Inline link: This type of link opens a new webpage. Highlight the text where the inline link should be, click the “insert link” icon, add a full URL (e.g., “Visit the NAU Homepage.”).
  • Mailto link: A mailto link opens a new email with the linked address in the To: field. Highlight the text where the mailto link should be, click the “insert link” icon, add mailto:[full email address] (e.g., “Email for more information.”).
  • Phone number link: A phone number hyperlink places a call when clicked from a phone or phone-enabled device. Highlight the phone number, click the “insert link” icon, add a phone number preceded by tel: (e.g., “Call us at 555-555-1212.”).
  • Appropriate text: Don’t spell out a URL directly on a page or use “Click here” or “Read more.” Link from the most descriptive text. Here are a few examples of appropriate text links:

Examples of poor text linking:

By including the file type (DOC, PDF, etc.) in the link after the file name, you’re ensuring that someone using a screen reader will know what type of document will open when they click a link.

Links to sites outside the domain will automatically be set to external links in the theme. No manual settings are required.

Left sidebars (NAU21 theme)

The sidebar section on your webpage allows for featured items on your page. Typically, those features include the request for information button, anchor links, and contact information. The sidebar is a good place to feature the anchor link table of contents for your page, allowing for quick links to jump to relevant sections on the page.

Right sidebar (Enterprise theme)

This is not a good place for images/videos, critical page content, or large amounts of text. Save this type of information for the body of the page.

Suggestions for right sidebar content include:

  • contact information: email, phone number, chat, etc.
  • buttons to learn more
  • short lines of text
  • quick links to sibling pages

Buttons can be used as a call to action (CTA) on your page, such as applying now to NAU, making a purchase, or signing up for a newsletter.

Use short CTAs like “Learn about degrees,” “Events in Flagstaff,” or “Register for courses.” Try to keep your button word count to 2–3 words.


On a website, an accordion is a type of list that displays a group of headers stacked on top of one another. When clicked on (or triggered by a keyboard interaction or screen reader), these headers will either reveal or hide associated content.

  • Use for two or more closely related topics such as FAQs or bios.
  • Do not use for a single topic with only one accordion dropdown.
  • Do not put accordions inside of tabs.
  • Bear in mind the experience of a mobile user; please try to keep content concise when using this design element.

Clean design

It’s important that your website is easily scannable and your content digestible. You don’t want to overwhelm people with an explosion of colors, images, and copy. Instead, make your website easy and enjoyable with clean design and meaningful content.

How can you make your web design user-centric?

Be clear on who your content is for; is it for potential or existing students, parents, faculty, or staff? Does your content serve users the information that they expect to find on the page?

Ask yourself the following: What are my users trying to accomplish? Are they looking to find information, compare programs, or apply for a job? How familiar are they with our programs, faculty, or brand?

Keep a few questions top of mind:

  • What do they want to find out?
  • Where do they want to go?
  • What do they want to do?

Visual hierarchy for readability

One way to promote clean website design is to establish a visual hierarchy. It’s the arrangement of all the design elements of a website in order of importance. Visitors will naturally gravitate toward the most important information.

Be sure to include that important information at the top of the page with supporting elements below it. This helps guide users to act in a way that feels natural and enjoyable, so use the correct position, color, and size to draw attention to important elements.

Heading hierarchies

Headings allow users to scan a page’s content to see what it contains and determine whether it’s useful or interesting to them. They are essential to grabbing the viewer’s attention and providing a quick reference of what they can find in the text. Below, we’ll describe various ways of making sure your headings are working in your favor.

  • Descriptive headings will mean less work for site visitors. When a page is easy to understand, people are more likely to read and absorb what you have written.
  • A heading should not be longer than a short sentence. If it is, then it probably belongs in your paragraph block. Keep it short and concise.
    • Headers: 55–65 characters
    • Sentences: 50–75 characters
    • Paragraphs: 150–500 characters
    • Webpage: 750–2,500 characters
  • Use sentence case in headers. Write the header like a sentence but without a period. Capitalize only the first word and proper nouns.
  • Consider accessibility. Accurate headings make it easy for all visitors to navigate a webpage. Screen reader users can listen to a list of a page’s headings to help them locate relevant information. To be useful, headings must accurately describe the content that follows. Headings must also be formatted with heading tags (instead of bolded text, for example) so a screen reader can identify them.
  • Do not skip or use headings out of order. The H1 is always first, and there should only be one H1 per page. Every page must have at least one H2.
    • H1 tags are used to denote the most important text, such as the main theme or title of a page.
    • H2 and H3 tags are commonly used as subheadings.
    • Finally, H4, H5, and H6 tags may be used to provide further structure within those subsections.
    • Keep H3s, H4s, etc., nested beneath similar lead concepts.
  • Do not select heading levels based on their appearance.
  • Do not bold or emphasize paragraph text in place of a heading.
  • Do not add additional formatting such as bold or underline to headings.
  • Do not apply heading formatting for aesthetic purposes to text that does not head a section.
  • Do not link headings.

White space

It’s also important to use white space effectively. White space helps keep a website from looking cluttered or overwhelming. It’s essentially the “negative” space between the layout elements, paragraphs, and visual components. Margins, gutters, and in-between graphics are all important zones for white space. It gives the reader a chance to breathe.

What does this white space accomplish? It promotes a tidier appearance, creates a balanced visual effect, and makes it easier to read the content. When the eye isn’t overwhelmed by text and images, it’s easier for web visitors to register what’s on the screen and act accordingly.

Designing with white space in mind will make your content more scannable, digestible, and easier on the eyes.

Text minimization

Large chunks of text are often passed over on digital screens. This is especially true for people accessing a website via their tablet or mobile device.

An easy-to-read website makes for a pleasant user experience, so it’s important to find the right balance between content, style, and functionality. Avoid clutter, let the content breathe a little, and use images or videos as support for your content. Here’s how to make your content easy to read:

  • Use consistent fonts to create a sense of cohesion across your site.
  • Stick to just two or three font sizes in total.
  • Chunk text into short paragraphs to make it easier to read and scan—large blocks of text are visually unappealing on a screen.
  • Start each paragraph with new information so users can quickly see whether they need to read it.
  • Use bullet points to make text scannable.

Visitor Engagement

Before you begin creating a page, always consider the page’s primary goals for your audience and keep it in mind throughout the page build, revision, and review process. Every page will vary, but many NAU webpages are likely to reflect some type of visitor engagement including site navigation, form submission, etc.

Will your visitors primarily wish to compare degree types then click a link for more information? Will your visitors primarily wish to read a story, or click for more information on a related topic? Are your visitors likely interested in applying to NAU or contacting us for more information? Questions like these can help you consider the best layout for your page, usually helping you organize the most high-priority actions toward the top of the page.

If you are considering creating a content-heavy page that serves a variety of different audiences with in-depth content, always consider if you would better serve your users by creating multiple pages. This can help you better align your visitors’ intent with your own.

Content layout choices for engagement and site speed

NAU’s developers and analysts handle most of the heavy lifting to ensure that your pages perform as smoothly and swiftly as possible. However, you should always take special notice if a particular layout reduces site load times or creates a significant layout shift while the page is loading. For example, some large custom image blocks near the top of your pages may contribute to slow perceived load times or layout shifts—all of which may result in a reduced user experience quality or visitor engagement.

In many cases, this will not be a major concern for most site stewards. However, it’s worth noting that our layout choices—especially those above the fold—can have an impact on page performance and may occasionally need to be audited.

Web content guidelines

Make content easy to scan by keeping sentences and paragraphs short and by using relevant and descriptive headings. Use brand voice, active tone, and easy-to-read sentences.

Please see the full NAU Editorial Writing Style Guide for our most up-to-date, comprehensive style rules and guidelines. Always reference this guide, the Chicago Manual of Style, and the dictionary by Merriam-Webster in that order when making writing style decisions.

Common links for NAU web style rules:

Content should be reviewed frequently as needed, but at least every six months to ensure information is accurate. Site stewards and web coordinators should periodically perform content assessments, working with subject matter experts to determine a plan for updating outdated content.

The responsibility for current/relevant/up-to-date content is the responsibility of the unit/site steward. The UM Web Team will periodically perform content audits and may reach out to site stewards to determine a plan for revising outdated content.


A well-designed website takes the user by the hand and leads them through the site. Sometimes, that web visitor’s journey concludes with them pursuing a certain action. Storytelling can help contribute to this journey by drawing in the web visitor and encouraging them to continue to the final goal.

This doesn’t mean you have to add huge narrative chunks of text to your website, but it’s important to pay attention to your brand voice and take advantage of storytelling when you can.

Vertical lists

When possible, introduce vertical lists with a complete clause (a grammatically complete sentence) followed by a colon. Use parallel (similar) phrasing for entries in a list. When each item in a group of unnumbered items is an incomplete sentence, begin with lowercase letters, and do not use periods.

For numbered lists, use a period after each number and begin each entry with a capital letter—even if the entry is not a complete sentence.

See “lists” in the Writing Style Guide for detailed examples and guidance on run-in, vertical, and numbered lists.

Punctuation, capitalization, and spelling

Always use sentence case when writing and publishing content, even in headings or limited cases where the web theme may modify capitalization. In some sections of the website, the theme may show uppercase, lowercase, title case, and other formatting schemes for your content. This is expected at the theme level. However, you should always continue using sentence case when drafting and publishing content with limited exceptions, usually for true proper names.

See “capitalization” in the Writing Style Guide for detailed information on capitalization using NAU style.

Dates and times

Please see “dates” and read our full guidelines for abbreviating dates and times in the Writing Style Guide for official policies and additional guidance. We’ve included a few highlights here and in the sections below:

Spell out days of the week. See “abbreviations” under “dates and time” for more details. Where space is functionally limited—including title tags, meta descriptions, and other areas with character limits—use one of the following abbreviation systems:

  • Sun. or Su
  • Mon. or M
  • Tues. or Tu
  • Wed. or W
  • Thurs. or Th
  • Fri. or F
  • Sat. or Sa

Spell out the name of the month. See “abbreviations” under “dates and time” for more details. Where space is functionally limited—including title tags, meta descriptions, and other areas with character limits—and in limited other cases where appropriate, use one of the following abbreviation systems:

  • Jan. or Jan
  • Feb. or Feb
  • Mar. or Mar
  • Apr. or Apr
  • May
  • Jun. or Jun
  • Jul. or Jul
  • Aug. or Aug
  • Sept. or Sept
  • Oct. or Oct
  • Nov. or Nov
  • Dec. or Dec

Days of the month and other ordinal numbers. When writing days of the month, do not use ordinal numbers (such as th, nd, or st). For more detail, please see our full ”numbers and dates” entry.

  • Correct: May 15, June 21, July 22
  • Incorrect: May 15th, June 21st, July 22nd

In other cases, please refer to “ordinal numbers” in the writing style guide. Generally, spell out ordinals first through ninth when used to indicate time or place. When ordinal numerals are required, use superscripts if possible. Note that superscripts are not possible in plain text, only in fields including meta descriptions, title tags, and others.

Other numbers

Please see “numbers and dates” in the NAU Writing Style Guide for full guidelines.

Phone numbers

  • Do not use parentheses for area codes. Phone numbers should only include dashes (e.g., 928-555-5555).
  • Use tel: in a link tag for accessibility purposes (see accessibility section of this document for how-to).


Please see “addresses” in the NAU Writing Style Guide for full guidance and specific examples.

Academic degree names

Always refer to the current degree catalog for formal degree names, and be careful to consider context when using the word “bachelor” to describe a degree. Often, it may be best to say “bachelor’s degree,” “Bachelor of Arts,” “Bachelor of Science,” or others instead of just “bachelor” or “bachelor’s” on its own—but this may not always be possible. Always ensure that you’ve considered context so that readers will clearly know that you’re discussing a degree and not a person who is also a “bachelor.”

See “capitalization of academic degrees” and “academic terms” in our word list for additional guidance on academic degree names and terms.


Only use directory listings from No manually built directory pages. Each unit has a directory maintainer that should be keeping their unit’s directory current and up to date.


Events within must come from the centralized calendar.

Learn how to submit an event for approval, including properly wording your event to show up in an event calendar search.

Do not use placeholder text, such as “Information coming soon.”


The purpose of this section is for recurring blog posts, and only if the unit is committed to making timely updates to the blog on the page. Blog posts should be from the last two years only. Anything older cannot be published. If a unit chooses to manage a news page, they are solely responsible for keeping the stories on their page current, relevant, and up to date. Learn more about best practices in our Essential Guide to Blogging.


Some websites struggle to engage users because they require users to read walls of text that can be hard to skim. Alternatively, websites that incorporate engaging visual design elements (photos, videos, and illustrations) can often communicate information to be quickly digested and understood. These visuals can help potential students see themselves as part of our Lumberjack community and can help affirm that students are making the right choice when selecting NAU.

There are many ways to incorporate visuals effectively on your website. There are also many different types of visuals you can play with, including photographs and videos. While we don’t want to overwhelm people with visuals, it’s good to provide enough diversity to keep the website lively and interesting.


Only photos approved by NAU Marketing can be used on NAU WordPress sites. Approved photos are available in the NAU Online Photo Gallery. Utilizing photos outside of our digital assets opens NAU up to infringement liability. If you are actively publishing pages in WordPress and do not have access to the NAU Online Photo Gallery, please reach out to your Unit Web Coordinator for assistance.

Always follow these best practices for web images:

  • Avoid generic images; use high-quality photos of your programs, students, and faculty; and highlight unique aspects of your program.
  • Make sure to add descriptive alt text for accessibility and SEO.
  • Consider image file size: use an image that is high quality (not blurry or stretched) but also not too large where it creates long load times for your site.
    • Our WordPress will not support images larger than 20 MB.
    • Images should be minimum 2400px on the long edge and 72 DPI.
  • Learn more about NAU’s web image standards, and use our official Widen collections for photo selection.

A featured (NAU21 theme) or hero (Enterprise theme) image appears at the top of each page and should help users quickly understand the purpose of a page. When choosing photos for featured images and hero images, keep a few special considerations in mind:

  • Ensure images follow a horizontal (landscape) format where possible.
  • Featured images display a long and narrow ratio, so it is important to select images that fit the space.
  • Feature engaged people when possible. We have a busy, vibrant campus; our web photos should reflect that. Try selecting images that represent activity and interaction.
  • Always ensure that heads are not cut off, and check all breakpoints for mobile and desktop.
  • Faces looking directly at the camera are out of brand, so please use only with discretion.

Please submit a Marketing Support request if you require support with images.

Image alt text

It’s very important that we use our best efforts to make our pages accessible for everyone, including using alt text on all images. We require alt tags for all images to remain in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and to best support all our community members and web users, regardless of the technologies they use to interact with NAU web resources.

Including alt text for all images ensures that screen readers and similar technology can describe the element, including for someone who may be visually impaired. Be as descriptive as possible:

  • Use complete sentence structure (e.g., A new student learns about campus from an N A U student ambassador.).

Images with text

Don’t embed text inside an image or use an image as word art. Assistive technologies, such as screen readers, are unable to read text in images. Additionally, embedded text is neither searchable by browsers nor translatable for non-English-speaking users.

Static images with text present issues with accessibility and usability in responsive design. When there is text inside an image—including signs, billboards, logos, and others—make sure the text of the image is in the alt text and is clearly labeled (e.g., A student stands near a campus sign reading Northern Arizona University.).

Do not use an image with text as a button.


Video content is an integral part of any website’s user experience. You can use video as an effective way to increase your brand awareness and capture your audience’s attention.

Try to follow these tips and tricks when adding videos to your webpage:

  • Using a reliable hosting service like YouTube or Vimeo can help avoid long load times for embedded video display. Buffering data and a browser struggling to load can lead to a poor user experience.
  • Only use officially supported blocks to embed videos on your page. Do not use unsupported iframes.
  • For accessibility purposes, always include closed captions and include a full transcript whenever possible. Closed captions are required following our university’s legal guidelines, and transcripts will support a wide range of accessibility and SEO purposes.
  • Don’t make a blank page with only a video; always include supporting content.

Social media icons

  • Only use the social media icons provided by WordPress.
  • Be sure to link to active accounts where users further engage with you.
  • Do not modify or use alternative icons. If an icon is needed that is not already provided, contact


Web accessibility is about designing websites and other digital materials so that they can be best used by everyone. Accessibility includes all the practices we follow, for both legal and ethical purposes, to help all users best engage with our pages. These practices can include using alt text, providing descriptive link text, responsive design, and following proper heading hierarchy (H1, H2, H3, etc.).

Accessible practices may have a particularly significant impact on users with visual, motor, auditory, speech, or cognitive impairments, but these accessible practices should also help create a more equitable digital experience for everyone. These practices should be implemented to help all our users, giving priority to users who have historically been underserved by web technologies.

1 in 4: 
adults in the US have a disability
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2023)

Accessibility should always be a primary consideration at the beginning of any web project—before you are set on a path that requires difficult adaptation to match accessible practices.

You may follow examples to help ensure your website or application is accessible, but always refer to Accessibility Resources for further guidance and policies:

  • Never rely on color alone to communicate information. You must always use text labels so that everyone can discern information, regardless of how they interact with your pages. Whenever possible, combine text, icons, colors, and other treatments to support your message.
  • Always use properly nested headings to help all users understand the structure of your website. Your H1 (often the same as your page title) should succinctly and accurately describe the content of your page—and remember that you’re only allowed one H1 per page. Below your H1, H2s and lower headings should be appropriately nested using parent topics with higher-level headings and child topics with lower-level headings.
  • Consider using semantic text treatments inside your paragraphs, which include emphasized and strong text formatting, to help improve content readability while also providing information to assistive technologies about content priority. In WordPress, the “bold” option is an easy way to add strong text to the page in rich text blocks. Italics work similarly.
  • Always reference NAU web accessibility guidelines for additional info and best practices.

SEO settings

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) attempts to align your web content with the search algorithms from Google, Microsoft, and other search providers so that your pages rank well and can be found in search results. SEO can act as part of our unpaid marketing strategy, driving organic traffic from search engines to best align with our users’ intent. If you can’t outspend your competitors, you can still outsmart them with a great SEO strategy.

Great SEO strategy considers everything from your site’s architecture, how pages are labeled to the titles of images, and of course the content on the actual page (e.g., keyword usage). Integrating keywords and other SEO principles onto your website can help increase your website’s organic traffic, page visits from potential students, and overall visibility.

You can use targeted keywords throughout your website to help searchers understand your page. The more effectively your content speaks to the content your users are after, using keywords in priority fields to best highlight your page’s purpose, the more organic traffic you’ll land.

Additionally, title tags, meta descriptions, and page content are all used by search engines to preview your page to search users—so these areas are essential both to promote clicks onto your page and to help users anticipate your page’s intent once they arrive. For search engine optimization (SEO) and accessibility value, pages must have unique meta titles and descriptions.

Meta titles and descriptions

Follow these additional ways to optimize your website for search engines using meta titles and descriptions:

  • Proper title tags and meta descriptions: Relevant title tags and meta descriptions help search engines understand the content on a page and index it appropriately. A page’s title tag and meta description are shown whenever that page appears in search engine results. The titles and meta descriptions can be edited in your WordPress editor.
    • Meta titles: The meta title should be similar/related to your H1. Keep your title under 60 characters.
    • Meta description: The meta description should be a short summary of the information someone can expect to find on your page. Keep your description below 160 characters.

Social Media settings under the SEO tab

You can optimize your site for social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter using the WordPress social media settings. The content you add to the Open Graph Title and Descriptions will display in the link preview on social media platforms.

In addition, adding an image is encouraged as it will increase click-through rates on your posts. As best practice, your image should be relevant to the topic and include people or buildings to drive engagement. Horizontal images are preferred for social posts, and using logos for the social image URL should be avoided.

Adjusting your content for SEO

  • Remember your website is for real people, so finding a balance between SEO performance, clarity, and style is key.
  • Consider heading hierarchy. Create relevant header (H1) and subheader tags (H2). The header tag (or H1) will be the title or headline of a page or post. Search engines target H1s and H2s for keywords, so make sure you’re including the most relevant information in your headline, but don’t bloat your headline with keywords simply for SEO performance. Subheader tags (H2) should be used to separate content sections to make text on the page easier to navigate.
  • Use short descriptive URLs. A simple URL that’s readable for humans will often contain keywords.
  • Include internal links to other pages on your site.
  • Use alt text for images. Alt text is not only important for accessibility, but also for SEO. Keywords used in your image’s alt text could have an impact on your SEO performance.

Algorithm updates and other notes

Through regular algorithm updates, Google and other search providers are looking to serve better search results based on user intent and helpful content—so the content we are already writing is set to perform well with anticipated updates. At the same time, University Marketing and ITS work to consistently refine and improve the site’s technical side—including “core web vitals” performance metrics, mobile-friendliness indicators, canonicalization and alternate page tags, and much more—to reflect new developments in search algorithms.

Contact and support

Require support building your website or implementing these best practices? Contact University Marketing through our Marketing Support Request.