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What is Metadata And Why You Should Care About It

Us SEOs throw around the term ‘metadata’ quite a lot. It might sound like jargon, but metadata should be at the top of your to-do list when considering on-site SEO. 

Put simply, metadata is content that describes data. In terms of your website, this means a page title and a meta description. This metadata provides Google and other search engines with information about certain web pages and the content within it. From this, search engines will determine whether or not your website and pages are relevant enough to be ranked highly in search engines.

When done well, metadata can massively impact your sites visibility in organic search results. So in this blog, we’re going to take it back to basics and address how to craft metadata. This will help your website stand up in the competitive Google search results. 

Page Titles

Believe it or not, a page title tells search engines and users exactly what the page is about. This will not only be displayed in SERPs, but also in the browser tab on the web page. Also in links on external sites including social networks.

There are no specific rules for forming page titles, but it’s generally recommended that you include a keyword and your brand name to guarantee the maximum exposure. Some other best practices include:

  • Using special character such as ‘&’ to cut down characters 
  • Avoiding ‘stop’ words including ‘and’, ‘with’ or ‘so’
  • Using call-to-action words including ‘Get’, ‘Buy’ and ‘Learn’

You should also pay attention to the length of your page title. Titles that are too short won’t perform very well in search engines. However titles that are too long get cut off and you risk losing important information. The optimal length for a page title is around 60-65 characters including spaces. 

Meta Descriptions

The meta description of the Colewood website

A meta description provides additional information about the content and purpose of the web page. It appears below the page title in search results. It will be shown with the title when the page is shared on social media. 

Though they are an essential part of SEO, isolated, they are not a ranking factor. A well-written meta description will persuade users to click through to your page. This will also help search engines determine the relevance of your page.

If search engines don’t view the description you have provided as relevant, they may instead pull an extract from the page. 

The ideal length for a meta description is 150-155 characters. Descriptions that are too long may get cut off mid-sentence.

Some other best practices for writing effective meta descriptions are:

  • Include a call-to-action to encourage click throughs
  • Use friendly language which fits with your sites tone of voice
  • Give accurate summaries of your page to avoid bounces

Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some important tips and tricks to keep in mind when creating metadata for your site.

Write for Users

While the purpose of metadata is to help search engines, you should always follow the SEO golden rule of writing for users first and foremost. The metadata is there to attract traffic to your site. Well written metadata will also reduce your sites bounce rate. Users will get a good idea of what is on the page before they click through.

Keep Updating

To ensure your metadata remains as effective as possible, it is recommended to update it every so often. This not only shows search engines that you are updating your site constantly, but it also helps boost the traffic and rankings of older pages.

Don’t Duplicate

Duplicate content is an issue we come across all too often. It confuses search engines about which page to rank for specific terms and can actually result in lower rankings. There are a number of ways this can become a problem. The easiest way to avoid it is to ensure each of your pages has a unique meta title and description.

Our SEO team are experts in content marketing and are happy to help if you are struggling with creating original metadata.