Meta-Data: Does it matter?
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
There is a lot of information around the term “meta-data” and there seem to be a plethora of opinions and perspectives out there regarding their relevance to todays Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But, for today, let’s start with what meta-data is.
Meta-data is tiny content descriptors that provide a brief description of the content and intended use of a web page. In other words, meta-data is data on other data.
Typically speaking, meta-data is most familiar to us in 3 forms: meta tags, titles tags (aka. page titles), and meta descriptions.
First, let’s look at meta tags.
Meta tags live in the HTML code world and are not usually visible to viewers of a page unless they know what to look for.
Description and keyword meta-tags are still commonly used to describe web page content even though the days of “keyword stuffing” are gone.
If you are curious and want to to find out whether a page you are on is using meta tags, right-click anywhere o the page and select “view page source”.
Next, let’s look at title tags and meta descriptions.
Title tags go hand-in-hand with meta descriptions and are visible through search engines. I like to use the analogy of a book when describing both and in this analogy, title tags would be the title of a book and meta descriptions are more like the snippet found on the back of a book or just inside the cover, designed to draw you into the book or in this case, a webpage.
To someone searching online, title tags and the meta description help them to determine if the page is relevant to the information they were seeking.
From a technical standpoint, search engines like Google use meta-data, like meta tags, page titles, and meta descriptions to catalogue content pages according to the content itself. By cataloguing the pages by the content on those pages, they are able to improve the relevance of of searches results. This in theory, and advertising buys aside, will increase your SEO purely based on relevance.
It is important to note, that the effectiveness of metadata on SEO, is ever fluctuating as search engines like Google tweak their algorithms and we see a shift away from organic content.