Metadata, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is data that describes other data. As vague as it sounds, when it comes to the Internet, it’s anything but. Throughout the Web, metadata is used to describe individual pages on a websites, allowing search engines to understand what each page portrays. This data helps search engines evaluate the relevance of a page content, thus determining whether a page will or will not be displayed within search results.
Within metadata lies three main components:
Page Title (or Title tag) – Your site’s Page Title is the heading that is displayed upon appearing within search results. This title should include the name of your business, a main keyword you are targeting and your location if relevant – such as Joe’s Construction – Personal Contracting in San Francisco.
Description (or Meta Description) – As with your Page Title, your description will show to customers any time your business is listed within search engine results – hint: it’s the snippet of descriptive text underneath the Page Title and URL (see example below). Your page’s Description should contain similar information to your Page Title (namely a targeted keyword), but not be exactly the same – it should be used to describe concisely what the web page is about.
Keywords – Unlike your page’s Page Title or Description, your Keyword tag cannot be seen by visitors within search results. The only way your Keywords can be seen is by viewing the page source and looking at the tag itself, where it will look like this:
The importance of including keywords has decreased in recent years, as search engines no longer view the keyword tag as a major factor when ranking results. However, it is still extremely important to conduct keyword research, keeping you aware of what terms visitors are searching for in order for you to optimize for those phrases.
When adding metadata to your website it’s important to keep in mind these three important tips:
- Do your research – As mentioned, it’s important to conduct keyword research so you understand what terms your site should be optimized for. There are many tools available including Google’s Keyword Planner and Wordtracker. These tools will tell you the keyword phrases are most searched within your industry, and how competitive they are. It is crucial to do this kind of research in order to incorporate the best terms into your site’s metadata.
- Stick to the rules – There are a few rules you should be aware of when dealing with metadata. Firstly, be aware of word limits when deciding on your Page Title and Description. A Page Title should be under 65 characters in length, including spaces and should lead with the most important keyword. The Page Description should be between 150-170 characters. If you go over the word count, the copy will not be shown on the search engine results page. Also be aware not to keyword stuff or use the same keyword more than once in your Description. If you include Keyword tags, separate each keyword by a commas and use different keywords for each page.
- Write compelling copy – When writing Page Titles and Meta Descriptions, keep the copy concise, within the character limit and make it compelling. Your copy should initially grab the eye of a prospect customer, intriguing them with a brief overview of the page’s content, and therefore result in the searcher clicking through to find out more. This is a good place to include your unique selling points, or define what sets you apart from competition.
It’s easy to edit your site’s metadata using Yola. When in Sitebuilder, click Page > Page Properties > Metadata.
Need more tips? Check out this helpful tutorial, explaining more about adding metadata to your website. Also, don’t forget to pay attention to your image alt text which is also an important component of SEO.