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Content guides Page titles and URLs

Every page of a website or service needs a page <title> and a URL. Clear and accurate page titles and URLs help users find what they want. They help users navigate to and around a site and see what will be on each page.

To be helpful for users, page titles and URLs need to:

  • describe what is on the page
  • have the most important words first
  • be concise
  • use clear, plain language
  • be unique
  • avoid internal jargon
  • use a primary keyword from the page

Page titles

Page titles are the first thing read out by screen readers and the link that shows in search results.

Use consistent language for page titles. For example, if you use “Start survey” for one page title, it would be inconsistent to use “Submit form” later in the user’s journey.

Include the site name on the end of each page title so the user is clear about where they are. For example, “Introduction to people who live here – Census 2021” or “Births, deaths and marriages – Office for National Statistics”.

For the error state version of each page, add “Error: ” at the start of each page title.

URLs

Search engines use URLs to determine what a page is about before returning results. They also use them to make connections between different pages on a site.

Do not use automatically generated URLs.

Start all URLs with the root domain of the site or service. Then use slashes to separate areas of the site, and hyphens to separate words. For example:

  • https://ons-design-system.netlify.app/guidance/page-titles-and-urls/
  • https://census.gov.uk/privacy-and-data-protection/

URLs should:

  • not include pronouns or articles, for example, “your”, “the” or “a”
  • only use lower-case letters
  • not include any special characters or punctuation, other than hyphens to separate words