When it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), content isn’t the only thing that can change your ranking. Don’t underestimate the importance of metadata to encourage clicks to your website.
Metadata is sometimes the forgotten child of the SEO world. Often, it’s overlooked in favour of content and keywords.
While easy to ignore, when executed properly, metadata can help well-ranking pages get that coveted click over your competitors’ pages.
Never heard of metadata before? Unsure what it does? Today, we’re here to walk you through the basics!
What is metadata?
Simply put, metadata refers to snippets of text that describe the content on a page. Think of the tags used to classify your blog posts or YouTube videos. Now imagine that instead of describing your page to a reader, you’re describing it to Google.
That’s pretty much what metadata does!
They’re invisible while scrolling through a site, but dive into a page’s code and you’ll see them.
Alternatively, if you use a dedicated content management system like WordPress, you’ll be able to view and edit metadata without having to know HTML.
At iformat, we mostly combine WordPress with Yoast SEO to edit metadata.
There are countless types of metadata. But unless you’re a web developer, there are only a handful that really matter to you:
When talking metadata, the title tag is arguably the most important one.
The name is fairly self-explanatory – basically, this tag tells Google and your visitors the title of the page in question.
The text entered in this field will then show up as the page title:
- When you share a link with other people or on social media
- On the tab in your web browser
- And most importantly, in a Google search
When creating titles, you’ll need to make sure it fits within Google’s 60-character limit. Sure, there’s nothing stopping you from going over, but if you do, some characters might get cut off.
How do title tags influence search engine optimisation?
As the biggest, most obvious part of your search engine results, the <title> tag impacts your ranking. While it mightn’t propel you to the top of page 1 on its own, it still has a role to play.
Titles that are stuffed full of keywords, don’t read naturally or are missing can hurt your ranking.
Not to mention, a good, strong title draws in readers and gets them clicking!
In summary, keep it snappy, include keywords (but not too many) and as with all content, make sure it’s compelling.
Meta description – what is your page about, and why should I click?
Every time you Google something, do you stop to read the result description before clicking?
That’s the meta description. And ideally, every page on your site should have one.
The meta description is the text that appears underneath the title in a search result. If you don’t include one, Google might pull the first couple lines from your page as a substitute.
While this might work in a pinch, rarely is it as concise or punchy as a well-written meta description.
And just like the title tag, you’ll need to follow a strict character limit – 160 to be exact (although Google did recently loosen the character count to 300, before quickly reverting back to 160).
How do meta descriptions impact search engine optimisation?
Back in 2009, Google confirmed that meta description isn’t a ranking factor. However, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored!
Think of the meta description as the sales pitch for your website. You want people to choose your business – convincing them to click on your site is the first step.
Meta description is also an indirect ranking factor. While Google doesn’t track meta descriptions as ranking factors, it does count site traffic as one.
And as your site’s “hook”, meta descriptions can directly increase that traffic. If your pages don’t have a description already, you’d better get writing!
Meta keywords – what do you want to be found for?
Usually, Google’s pretty on-the-ball when it comes to figuring out what searches are relevant to your site.
However, it can often lead to unexpected results. We’ve seen it happen with many of our clients – they’ll start ranking not just for their targeted keywords, but also for other searches that we are not focusing on.
Sometimes this is great, as it brings in even more traffic and leads. In other cases however, it can lead to clients being found for services they don’t really want to target.
How do meta keywords impact search engine optimisation?
Whenever you add a new page to your site, Google scans it with their bots and indexes it.
Using its algorithm, it serves said page for searches that it thinks are relevant to your page’s content.
Meta keywords tell Google what search terms you want prioritised. Additionally, they provide Google’s algorithm with another tool to figure out what your page is about.
If your SEO strategy involves targeting specific areas or services, then keywords are essential.
While they aren’t as important as they once were (thanks, black-hat SEO companies), they nonetheless have a role to play in your SEO strategy.
These are just the more important bits of metadata
Other types of metadata include information about:
- Images and media metadata
- What type of content is part of a page
- Copyright information
- Geographic location (place name, region etc.)
And that’s just the beginning!
If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information, we don’t blame you. SEO can look like black magic to anyone that doesn’t have a background in it. That’s why companies like ours exist!
iformat specialises in getting you found online for the types of services you want to be found for, by the types of clients you want to work with.