A Beginner's Guide to Metadata

A Beginner's Guide to Metadata

Looking to improve Google ranking through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Those simple three letters, S-E-O, can actually be pretty daunting. There are many directions one can take when planning an SEO strategy, but the easiest place to start is with metadata.

We created this guide to help you understand and improve upon SEO efforts by utilizing and updating metadata.

What is metadata?

Technically, metadata is data that describes other data. The type of metadata we are talking about is a basic summary of information regarding the contents of a specific webpage. Metadata appears on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and includes a page title and description, using keywords that are relevant to the content on the page.

Title

You guessed it: the title is simply the main title of the webpage. When creating a title, also known as a title tag, it is important to include the main keyword at the beginning of the title and end with the website name for branding purposes.

Be sure to write for humans, not search engines, because the title helps users decide if the webpage is relevant to their original search query. As always, avoid keyword stuffing and duplicate content.

Search engines limit how much text they will display, so it’s important to be concise. A general rule of thumb for the length of a title is between 50 and 60 characters.

Meta description

A meta description, placed below the title in the metadata, is a snippet of information summarizing the content of the webpage.

Much like the title, the description entices users to click the link; therefore, compelling content is critical. Keywords in the meta description can be helpful, but again, avoid keyword stuffing and duplicate content. Always write for users first. Be sure to keep the description under 160 characters.

What does metadata look like to a user?

We see metadata every time we search on the web. The page title and description are read by search engines and displayed to users in the SERP, helping the user to understand what the page is about and decide whether or not the page will be helpful.

Metadata can be found in various other places, such as social platforms. When a webpage is shared on social media, the metadata is often pulled in to the post to include the title, description and image.

Additionally, the title will appear in the tab of a web browser.

Why is metadata important for SEO?

You wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you would read the title and first few pages, right?

Think of your metadata as the movie trailer to your webpage, and you’ll soon realize it is critical to users and search engines. When you show a great title and description, users are more likely to click on your page. More clicks = improved organic click-through rate. And an improved organic click-through rate ultimately improves ranking.  

Similarly, well-written metadata means search engines will have a better idea about the content on your page, and can therefore show your page to searchers with the most relevant queries, more often. More visibility = more opportunity for clicks. Remember: your metadata communicates to all who see it (humans and search engines) so it’s important to take the time to craft original, informative metadata.  

Believe it or not, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO but it’s a great place to start. Learn more about the importance of SEO and get your business on the first page of Google.

Need help with a digital strategy? Let’s chat.

Author

Stephen Luke

Stephen Luke

Stephen is Hudson Integrated’s Lead Search Strategist. As a t-shaped web marketer with a love for multi-tasking, Stephen overlaps experience in UX, email marketing, and other disciplines to build comprehensive search marketing campaigns that grow and retain customer bases.