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The Importance of Well-Written Metadata

July 2018

Many people assume that search engine optimization is all about keywords and content. In reality, it's just as much about metadata. Meta tags are a crucial part of any website. They exist inside HTML headers, which means you never actually see them on a page when you are visiting it. However, what those meta tags are doing is offering a quick and concise description of what your page or site is. This information is essential because it’s what users are likely to see when they do a Google search, and your page pops up. The meta description is often what appears under the link to your website in Google. Other parts of metadata—such as meta title tags and meta keyword tags—are also important.

Related: Best Practices in Website Design

Contrary to popular belief, meta tags do not impact your sites rankings on Google. They used to, but people abused them as a form of keyword stuffing. Google ultimately decided to change its policies to prevent this type of “black hat” SEO. Still, even though meta tags don’t impact your search rankings, they are still useful for SEO in a few ways.

Always remember that landing at or near the top of a Google search is only part of the battle. You also need to get the people who did that search to click on your page. Meta tags can be extremely helpful for making that kind of action happen.

Firstly, meta tags can and should be compelling. Writing an interesting meta description for your page— one that accurately highlights the content therein—can intrigue users enough to visit your site. The same goes for the meta title. An eye-catching title can pique the interest of your audience, sending them to your site—and hopefully urging them to explore other pages, too.

Metadata gives you control over the titles and descriptions that show up in Google. If you don’t add these tags to your page, Google will pick the text to display. In the description part of the search, Google-selected content is usually just an excerpt from the text on your webpage. This text might lack context and probably hasn’t been calibrated for short-form consumption and engagement. It’s not necessarily the foot you want to put forward—especially if you have another option. Metadata gives you that other option.

The other factor to remember with meta tags is that Google will bold keywords from the user’s search in each meta title and description that appears on the search page. If users are scanning for the pages that have the most keywords in their search, then it stands to reason that the pages with the most deliberately and carefully written meta tags are going to win.

So how can you write strong meta tags? Keep them short (usually around 150 characters for a meta description), use keywords, make them informative and compelling and be sure that they accurately reflect the content on the page. Lastly, make them unique: never copy and paste the same meta descriptions across several pages. Even if it takes you some time, writing unique descriptions for every individual page will pay dividends eventually.

Need help executing a robust meta tagging plan for your website? Let Inherent help! Get in touch with our team today to see how we can help you up your metadata game.