SEO

Metadata SEO 101: What You Need to Know About Using Metadata for Better SEO

January 22, 2024

Optimizing your metadata is a simple, cost-effective way to give your SEO a quick boost and to start ranking higher for the keywords that matter to your business.

While you may already have your title tags and meta description sorted, there are parts of metadata that many companies miss out.

Read on to find out how you cover all grounds of metadata as part of your SEO strategy.

What is Metadata?

Metadata refers to "data about data". In terms of websites and SEO, metadata includes page titles, descriptions, image alt text, and more.

This information helps search engines understand your content and determine how to rank your site in search results. It also shows up on search results so searchers get a preview of what’s on the page.

Importance of Metadata for SEO

Metadata not only allows search engines like Google to feature your page more accurately and frequently, it also helps you get more clicks—if done well.

Do a quick search and you’ll be inundated with pages and pages of similar content. Without good metadata like titles and descriptions, it’s tough to win clicks. This would in turn lower your rank since expected CTR is one of Google’s factors for ranking.

Where Do You Use Metadata for SEO?

Metadata is important for SEO because it helps search engines understand your content. There are a few places you can add metadata for better search rankings:

Title tags

Your page title is displayed at the top of the browser and in search results. It should be an accurate, compelling description of the page content using important keywords. Keep page titles under 60 characters.

Below, the title tag—Casper: The Best Bed for Better Sleep—includes keywords like bed and sleep, and includes a strong promise of better sleep.

Meta descriptions

Page descriptions are displayed in search results under the page title. They should be 155-160 characters and include keywords and a call to action to click.

For example, in the page includes their main keyword mattress and a gripping CTA—get the sleep you’ve always dreamed of.

Headings

Use strategic headings (<h1>, <h2>, <h3> tags) that include important keywords. Higher-level headings (<h1>, <h2>) carry more weight for search engines.

<h1> should match the title tag and <h2> are headings you find throughout the article serving as an outline. <h3> are subheadings that further break down content under <h2>.

Image alt text

This provides a textual description of an image. It helps search engines understand your images and rank them in image search. Alt text should be concise yet descriptive, around 125 characters.

For example, “Metadata infographic showing where to add metadata for SEO” would be good alt text for an infographic on this topic.

Schema Markup

Schema markup is a type of metadata that helps search engines understand the structure and content of your web pages. You can use schema markup to identify entities like articles, products, reviews, recipes, events, and more.

Adding relevant schema helps search engines display richer snippets and knowledge panels in their search results.

In this example, Adidas added product markup such as ratings, price and whether they have it in stock. This helps users make a more informed decision whether to click in.

How to Optimize Your Metadata for Better SEO

To optimize your metadata for better SEO, there are a few key things you need to focus on.

Use Relevant Keywords

Include important keywords and phrases in your title tag, meta description, headings, and content.  Better yet, frontload your title by starting it with your target keywords.

Make sure to conduct keyword research to identify relevant topics that people are actively searching for. Utilize keyword research tools like Ahrefs, Semrush or Google Keyword Planner to find popular and relevant keywords for your content.

Write an Engaging Meta Description

Aim for 150-160 characters and include your target keywords in your meta description. More importantly, make it compelling so people will want to click on your result.

The meta description should capture the essence of your content while encouraging the reader to learn more.

Use H1 and H2 Headings for Proper Hierarchy

Search engines place a lot of importance on headings, especially H1 and H2 tags. Use your target keywords in the H1 and H2 headings when possible.

The H1 heading should be the main topic of your content, while the H2 headings break up your content into logical sections.

Use Relevant Img Alt Text for All Images

Provide alt text that includes your target keywords and describes the main purpose or information in the image. Include your target keywords when applicable.

The alt text should be concise but descriptive enough that someone who can't see the image understands its purpose. Here's a good example of alt text:

<img src="infographic.jpg" alt="Seo metadata infographic showing importance of image alt text">

Make Sure Your Metadata is Displaying Properly

Once you’ve optimized your metadata, use a tool like Google Search Console to check how Google sees your page.

Look for any errors or warnings and make sure your keywords and meta description are displaying properly in the search results. Continue to refine and improve your metadata over time for the best SEO results.

Can Metadata Improve the Ranking of a Website in Search Engine Results?

Yes. In fact, strong Metadata is an essential part of any effective SEO strategy. Here are some ways metadata can boost your search rankings:

  • Optimizing your metadata to match relevant keywords and phrases can signal to search engines that your page is a good match for those search terms.
  • Engaging and helpful titles and descriptions encourage people to click on your result, which search engines see as a positive signal.
Photo by Stephen Phillips - Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash
  • Headings and subheadings that include relevant keywords help search engines understand the topics covered on your page and how those topics relate to specific searches. This structural semantic information can boost rankings for those topic keywords.
  • Relevant alt text supports the search engine's understanding of your page content and topic, therefore helping you show up under the right searches.

In summary, optimizing elements like your title, description, headings, and alt text to include relevant keywords in a natural and helpful way for users can provide signals that improve your search rankings and visibility over time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Metadata SEO

How do I add metadata to my website?

Metadata is added to the <head> tags in the HTML code of your web pages. The page title is defined in the <title> tags, the description in <meta name="description"> tags, and image alt text in the <img> tags.

Some content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and website builders like Wix allow you to easily add and edit metadata through plugins or their interface without needing to edit HTML code.

For other website builders, you may need to enable the HTML editor in your page settings or ask for help from your engineering team.

What makes for good metadata?

Good metadata should be:

  • Relevant - Closely describe the topic and content of the page. Use important keywords.
  • Compelling - Write an interesting description that makes visitors want to click.
  • Optimized - Include important keywords and phrases for search ranking, especially in the page title and first part of the description.
  • Readable - Use complete sentences and proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Metadata should sound natural.
  • Accurate - Properly represent what the content and media on the page is about. Don't mislead visitors or search engines.

How often should I update my metadata?

You should audit and update your metadata regularly, especially if:

  • Your content changes or is updated
  • Search trends change
  • Your keywords or focus changes
  • Your rankings start to drop for important terms

Updating your metadata, even incrementally, can help boost your search rankings over time. Small tweaks and improvements add up!

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Conclusion

Metadata may seem like a small detail, but it has a huge impact on your SEO and overall website success.

Furthermore, these are factors that are within your control, unlike others like backlinks or competitors’ activities. So, start working on your metadata and it’ll pay off in traffic dividends overtime.

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