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Metadata. Wha...?

When they first begin adding content to websites, many people are unaware of metadata, it's purpose or it's power. Because it seems to be part of the underlying structure of…Go to post

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Metadata. Wha...?

When they first begin adding content to websites, many people are unaware of metadata, it's purpose or it's power. Because it seems to be part of the underlying structure of the site, when they do find out about it they often think it's something they shouldn't mess about with. Nothing, however could be futher from the truth!

So what is it?

Simply put, metadata describes the page. True, there are a lot of technical aspects which most people producing content for websites won't need to worry about but there are a few which can help you achieve your goals. There's quite a lot you can say about a webpage — when it was last updated, who the author is that sort of thing. This is all useful stuff to somebody (or some program) out there on the web but the bits we really need to worry about here are the ones that tell the search engines about our content. 
  • Title
  • keywords
  • description

Title

The 'title' is the description that sits in the bar at the top of your browser, on this page it says "Blog | Metadata. What?". The title should be descriptive, it should tell the search engine and the reader what to expect from the page. For this reason the title should usually be a pretty good match for the page heading.

Keywords

These are the most important words in your text, they are likely to be frequently occuring in your page because they should be what your page is about.

If for example you are writing about your free range eggs, your keywords might include

  • eggs
  • free range
  • happy hens
  • ethical eggs

and so on. These are all words or short groups of words that people you might want to talk to are likely to be using to try and find you.

Description

The description is the second thing a potential visitor will probably see on your site before they arrive. Most Search engines put this bit of copy in their results as a sort of preview of the site. This is really quite important. This is your biggest opportunity to get people to click on your website, they have found you (and 288,000,000,000 other sites but it's you they're looking at) so what will you say to show them your worth a look?

Page Content

Content, as they say, is king. And here is where we tie it all together. Here's where you tell everyone about what you sell; incorporating all of your keywords, reflecting and expanding on your description and giving your readers all the information and encouragement they need to turn them from just readers to fully fledged, purchasing customers. This is also matched against your other metadata (above) by search engines to ensure a consistent match between what you say you're doing and what you are actually doing.