Metadata is sometimes called “data about data.” For the purposes of SEOs and website owners, that is most certainly accurate. These data are describing our data, or our content. Metadata, in the form of meta tags, describe images, text, video, and other elements of websites for search engines. Optimising meta tags can help Google and other engines crawl and index your sites more efficiently, helping you climb in the SERPs.
Here are some tips to creating effective meta tags:
- First, head to Google and see which tags they support. You can use others, but these are the ones that Google will pay attention to when crawling your site. If you’re optimising for Bing or other engines, check with their webmaster guidelines.
- Ok, now get meta tagging. One of the most important is the meta description. This describes your page concisely. Often, Google will use this in the SERP as the little blurb under your result. It should tell searchers what they need to know so they can click through. To improve your CTR, make sure your description is accurate and clearly articulates what searchers will find in your site. Including a call-to-action (“Free 30 day trial! or “Free sample”) is also a good idea.
- Keep it short. Your description should be no longer than 160 characters. If it is more, it will get cut off in the SERP, and searchers tend to be turned off by incomplete descriptions.
- Highlight your keywords. Tagging the keywords on each page helps Google crawl and rank your site. Google doesn’t care too much about these, but if there are common misspellings of your keywords, you can include them here.
- Use the Robots tag. You can tell Google which pages to follow and which to ignore. The link above has a list of values they support (noindex, nofollow, nosnippet, etc.). You can, for instance, use a nofollow on your sign-in page so Google doesn’t bother crawling and can move on to your content-rich pages.
- One more tip: if you haven’t set up the authorship tag, do it now. The tag goes into the header of your webpage HTML, after the description and keyword tags. This tag will help you establish authority and credibility with Google and searchers.
Metadata is one part of the overall SEO pie; these small tweaks can help you rank a bit better, but the real key is providing great content to searchers.