What is Metadata & How Should I Use It?
Originally published on Music Meets Social.
Metadata is one of those abstract pieces of marketing and the web. It can be hard to grasp the full meaning and potential of this tool. That’s part of why I’m writing about this today. Because I don’t completely understand it and want to know how to best use it. It’s a valuable tool to know!
Essentially, metadata is data describing other data.
Meta tags are used to describe the page’s photo, video, and text content. An image’s metadata is its size, color depth, resolution, date created, and more. A text-only page has data about the author, length, date, and a brief summary. (Source)
A Real World Example
Google has essentially taken over the world (and I’m okay with that… for now), and they use metadata to harness users’ searches. This provides marketers with another way to reach potential customers. The idea behind AdClick is to use metadata to show specific ads to specific people. This ensures marketing dollars are spent as efficiently as possible. (AdClick is what makes those specific ads appear on some websites you visit.)
Google saw the potential in metadata early on. Now, companies can reach the most target customers possible, whereas a billboard is not as targeted. (Source)
The Growth of SEO
Yet, with the advent of SEO, some say that metadata is not important, while others are saying it’s still crucial. Because search engines rely on keywords instead of metadata, it makes sense. If metadata helps with rankings, and it isn’t as important now, than metadata must not be as important, right? Well, not really.
It’s still considered SEO best practice to use metadata as best you can. It can also help you find resources quickly.
Utilizing Meta Tags
Potential visitors can still see meta tags, because it helps provide information about the page. The title tag is the title of the post and the link to the page. It’s important to include keywords, because they'll be bolded (if in the user’s search) and will entice them to click and read. The title tag cannot be more than 70 characters, or it gets cut off. Because of this, the meta description is better used for a description.
The meta description is the short piece of text in a search result, under the title and URL. If it's not used, it will be pieces of content with the keywords searched for. This article emphasizes the meta description because it’s a “sales pitch” for your web page. You want people find your awesome website, so don’t ignore the meta description. It’s a valuable tool that you can place your SEO keywords in to help draw visitors.
Note: Just because you can include them doesn’t mean you should include the three keywords four times. And throw in some that don’t even apply, but will bring clicks.
The keyword meta tag is usually ignored now because people over used it. This then crossed the line into spamland. Because of this, you can usually ignore this type of meta tag. That said, though, it can help internally to track the targeted keywords of each post. (Source)
So, yes. Meta data does not have the role it used to. But it helps organization, search result customization, and it's still SEO best practice. Take the few extra minutes and tag those posts!
- Did anything surprise you about the role of metadata?
- Does your organization utilize metadata for their digital assets?