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Metadata 101

Posted by fusionbox on July 5, 2011, 6 p.m.

Metadata, simply, is information about the data on your website. It helps search engines decode the information on your website and catalog your website correctly. Your metadata should be written with a view to give search engine clues about the information on your website, but also tell users why your website has relevant information for them. Essentially, it's a key element of SEO and should not be ignored.There are many elements in metadata, but the three most important are:

Title: This is one element you should spend the most time crafting, especially the beginning. Search engine robots pay the most attention to this and so should you. It's as important as the headline of a news article. Make it detailed, catchy and attractive because this is what tells users and search engines what your page is about. For example, if you own a company called Re-bottle which makes eco-friendly bottles, your title tag could be BPA-free bottles that are Eco-friendly & Reusable | Rebottle. A title tag like this helps your brand building efforts. While it's acceptable to put one or two keywords for which you are trying to rank in your title tag, don't overload your title tag because Google robots are easily annoyed by keyword stuffing. Keep it around 65 – 70 characters or less. Remember to keep it catchy because it's going to draw users to your website!

Description: The description is a summary of your company's core capabilities or if it's e-commerce then what you are selling. Think of it as the synopsis of a book you are going to buy. The description has to grab attention. If there's no description, search engines randomly pick snippets from that page and display it in results. Understandably, this has been known to backfire. A good description includes a call-to-action, combined keyword phrases and some branding effort. A good example of a description for Rebottle could be: Customize your eco-friendly reusable bottle with your favorite picture or pick from snazzy designs! Free shipping for orders over $50.

Keywords: Keywords are, in general, extremely important. Keywords, like the title tag and description, tell the search engines why you should be in the results when users search for something. Keywords are magical things that are most effective when used minimally and strategically. But using keywords in the meta keyword field may not be very effective because search engines don't pay much attention to them. Despite this, keyword stuffing is actively discouraged.

A few best practices:

  1. Each page on your website should have a unique title tag and description. Similar or duplicate content annoys search engine robots and they could lower your page ranking or drop it entirely from search engine results.
  2. Character limitations are awesome. It's that simple. Use them. Love them.
  3. Using correct grammar helps. Search engine robots weed out anything they consider aesthetically abrasive for human readers. Simple, distinctive and grammatically correct sentences get rewarded more often than not.
  4. Stealing keywords is all too common and there isn't much you can do about it. Try and rank for them anyway.

We at Fusionbox think metadata is pretty cool. And now you're armed with the knowledge from the Internet Marketing gods that be. Is your website meta data powered yet?