It’s easy to ignore metadata but taking note could quickly lead to more interest in your website. Indeed, understanding metadata in digital marketing is vital for effective digital marketing and directing quality traffic to your website. So what are the key types of metadata for digital marketing and how can you make sure yours hits the mark? In this post, we will outline the answer to these questions and the key things you need to know about metadata for successful digital marketing campaigns.
What is metadata?
Simply put, metadata is data that describes other data or ‘data about data’. It is structured data that can be used to describe aspects of data including how it is created, what it is for, when it was created, and data quality amongst other things. Typically, metadata is used to facilitate resource discovery and improve how resources are organized. Metadata also makes it possible to exchange data and resources securely across domains and over time. Different disciplines also set different standards in relation to metadata to improve its utility.
When it comes to digital marketing, metadata is used within the HTML code of webpages to help search engines know what a page is about. When used properly, it provides the key information about webpage content and helps to increase your site’s traffic. For effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) the title tag, meta description, and meta keywords need to be placed in the head section of the HTML page.
What are the key types of Metadata?
The three most important types of metadata in digital marketing are the title, the description, and the keyword metadata. However, the key metadata to get right are the title and meta descriptions as these are what will appear on listings. These help search engines to accurately identify your content when crawling through your site. When search engines are able to interact with your pages in this way, you’ll appear higher up the listings.
Getting your content marketing metadata right will connect you with more and better-qualified traffic. Here, we outline the key things you need to know to get this right:
Title metadata is sometimes referred to as the SEO title. Indeed, for search engines, this is the most vital metadata. This is what is used on the search engine results page (SERP). The title metadata will appear underlined and in blue on Google and most search engines. Some or all of the title metadata will also appear in an open tab on a browser when opened. It is also what is usually pulled through as anchor text when people share your content on social media.
You should bear in mind that Google can override your title tag if it sees fit. It does this by taking into account the content of your page and any references to it appearing elsewhere on the web. However, you want to avoid Google doing this as it may not pick up the relevant information you wish to present. To avoid this and to write optimized title metadata you should:
Ensure they are concise and clearly tell search engines and users what your page is about. The clearer and more engaging they are, the more likely you are to get the qualified traffic clicking through to your site;
Make them no more than 50-60 characters, including spaces, if you want them to be displayed in full on the results pages (sites like Yoast also offer useful tools to let you preview how your SEO title will look on the SERP);
Include the most important keywords you wish to target;
Include your brand name. This can be included at the end of the title tag if it does not form a part of any of your keyword targets;
Be unique. Replicating title tags has a negative impact on your visibility;
Avoid keyword stuffing. Whilst you want to target certain keywords, packing titles full of them can be penalized by search engines and will make your title incoherent, and;
Be different from your headline in the <h1> HTML tag. This helps you target more keywords without having to keyword stuff.
Meta Descriptions are sometimes described as snippets. They are best when they are up to 155 characters long and summarize page content. This is shown by search engines when a searched-for phrase is found within the meta description HTML tag. The purpose of meta descriptions is to get people using a search engine to click-through to your page. They do not directly affect search engine rankings, but higher click-through rates do move your page up, so are indirectly beneficial.
To write successful meta descriptions you should:
Get to the point. As with titles, the best meta descriptions are kept short and sweet. However, they should still accurately describe the content of your page and you can go up to 300 characters if needed;
Engage the reader. Ideally, they will be written in an enticing way that encourages readers to click-through and look at your site. Use an active voice rather than a passive one to ensure your description is more interesting;
Include a call-to-action. You can use phrases like ‘find out more’, ‘get it now’, ‘shop today’, and other enticing phrases to encourage action;
Contain appropriate keywords. If useful search keywords appear in your meta description Google is likely to display your meta description;
Link to your content. Like titles, your page meta-descriptions should be unique. This improves user experience as they use your website.
Keyword metadata summarizes the idea of your page for search engines and are not displayed to site users. As such, keyword metadata should represent the content of your webpage. Whilst Google stopped using meta keywords tags for ranking purposes in 2009, they are still important when it comes to SEO. This stems from the fact that search engines will check if your keyword metadata matches your content.
Where keywords match content, your site will appear more relevant and trustworthy to search engines. However, it is important to remember that the keyword metadata tag is not the same as keywords. Indeed, keywords are still vitally important when it comes to SEO. In-text keywords to attract relevant and organic traffic to your site are still essential.
Given that 95% of users only click-through to pages listed on the first page of search engine results, getting metadata right matters in digital marketing. Understanding content marketing metadata helps to ensure your content is both visible and user-friendly. Whilst the keyword metadata tag is not as important as it used to be, keywords themselves still are. They also play a vital role in getting click through from your meta titles and meta descriptions. The tips above outline how you can ensure you are writing metadata optimized for searches.