Let’s get Meta.  Why is metadata important?

Let’s get Meta. Why is metadata important?


Is metadata self-referential, and if so, would
that be too meta? Greg, here, from mtek. This week’s tip is about meta data. Meta data is information that’s included
within the code of your pages that helps provide information to other sources or other users
of the page—particularly search engines or crawlers. That metadata usually consists of a page title,
meta description, meta author information, meta keywords, and a few other very seldom-used
fields. In fact, meta keywords is one that has dropped
off the radar. For many years meta keywords were used to
describe the content of a page by using keywords of the page in a very specific location that
search engines would use when indexing. That tactic was abused heavily for a number
of years. You may recall back in the early days of the
internet, 2000 to 2005 or 2006, you would often run into pages on the web that would
have a block at the bottom of an article or a page that had hundreds and hundreds of keywords
in text that matched the colour of the background—that was a way to stuff those keywords into the
page, and if you looked at the code you would see there was probably an exact replica of
the contents of the meta keywords tag. As a result major search engines have pretty
much decided to ignore that tag. Meta keywords: Gone. The keywords still have a place and that is
in your content, but there are other meta tags that serve an important purpose. The title tag is incredibly important. Its purpose, Number One: To identify what
the page is about, and that page is the first tag encountered by most search engine crawlers
when they’re doing their indexing. It’s also critical because it is the tag
that populates the text on the tab of the page in your browser. Therefore, it’s the first thing on your
screen, technically, that people will see about your content. Beware, it’s short. Most title tags, you’ll probably have less
than 50 characters to work with. 65 is the standard for a title tag line, so
anywhere between 55 and 65 characters is ideal. However, even that may extend past the length
of the tab in your browser. So, when you write that title tag, make sure
that your keywords or your page subject is as close to the beginning of that tag as possible. That way, the most important words will still
show up even if people have an entire browser full of tabs (and we’ve all seen it). The meta description tag is the second most
important piece of information on your page. Specifically because Google uses this piece
of information to populate the description of your page on the search results, your title
will form the search link that people see in blue type on the Google page or on the
Bing page. The meta description is used to fill in the
description of your page on the search results. If you don’t fill it in, Google will extract
some content from your page randomly (seemingly, randomly) that it believes your page is about
and will put that in the search results. If that’s not exactly what you were hoping
for, well, then you should have defined a meta description. The meta description gives you a place to
use your keywords again, to make sure that people who are visiting understand exactly
what your page is about, and if you’ve got enough room, you may even be able to get a
phone number or a contact point in there. The meta description tag can be 160 characters
long. You can go longer but you will get truncated,
and if you go too short, well, you’re wasting valuable space. 160 characters isn’t very much to describe
an entire page, but again, if you’re focused and you’re on topic, you shouldn’t have
any problem doing it. Those are the key pieces of meta data to be
thinking about. You would be amazed at how frequently people
don’t actually set them. Your title is a must. Meta description is incredibly valuable for
converting someone from a searcher on Google to a visitor on your site. There are some tools out there that can help. Screaming Frog offers a meta tag analyzer
that will help you identify tags on your site that may be duplicated or meta data that may
be duplicated, and SEOCentro (SEOCentro.com in particular) also has a meta data analyzer. By using the tools that are out there for
free, you’ve got a much better chance of spotting a potential problem with your meta
data and correcting it quickly. Remember, it’s not about getting everything
right; it’s about getting a little more right every day. I’m Greg, from mtek. Thanks for watching this tip. Be sure to hit that “Subscribe” button;
hit the “Like” button if you found this tip useful, and we will see you again in another
episode.

Daniel Ostrander

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