What is Metadata and Why is it Important for SEO?

Brandon Keller   •   March 30, 2018

In every big company, there’s a group of behind-the-scenes workers who truly make everything work. While they’re often unheralded to outsiders, those in the know appreciate all the dirty work these invisible warriors do to make a company thrive. In search engine optimization (SEO), metadata is a hard-working, unseeable component that has a huge impact on the success of your website.

What is metadata?

Metadata is invisible nuggets of information hidden in the code of a website and impossible to find with the naked eye. While visitors to the site cannot view metadata, search engines can. Metadata is a way to tell search engine crawlers what to expect from a page, blog, image, or paragraph, providing the search engine advice on how to best index the site.

What are the key components of metadata?

Metadata is a broad term given to all hidden tags and information on a website, but there are various specific components that make up a website’s metadata. Below are the three most important components of metadata for search engine optimization:

Title Tag

Each page on a website has a title tag. It provides a quick, abbreviated title for the page. This information is not only submitted to crawl, but it also surfaces as the title of the page when viewing Google search results. Title tags are a great opportunity to add both local and organic SEO keywords, such as the service that is being offered or the location of the business. However, you don’t want a title that is a mishmash of keywords thrown together. The title tag should be eye-catching to visitors, as it may determine whether they click through to your website from the results page.

Meta Description

Meta descriptions provide a summary of everything a visitor (and a search engine crawler) should expect on a given page. For blog posts, meta descriptions may surface on a blog landing page to provide visitors more context about the post. Previously, meta descriptions were also listed on a search results page, but Google recently made a shift so that descriptions are now chosen from throughout the text to find the most appropriate description based on the search query.

Image Tags and Alt Descriptions

Image tags and alt descriptions are tags added to images to help search engines determine what the picture conveys. While Google Images is becoming increasingly complex in its ability to distinguish images, the image tags and descriptions provide some additional context. If for some reason the images are unable to load or the individual using the page has impaired vision, the image description will surface to help the visitor better understand the information on the page.

Why is metadata important for SEO?

In the past, metadata was considered one of the most important methods to increase search rankings. However, as search engines have evolved in their ability to analyze the quality of content, metadata has become slightly less important. But only slightly. The metadata still communicates directly with search engines, providing them with pertinent information about the content of your webpage. Without metadata, you’re missing out on easy opportunities to increase your search traffic.

Optimize Your Metadata with Our SEO Experts

Don’t worry if metadata sounds complicated. It is! Conveyed primarily in HTML, metadata can look like a whole different language to the untrained eye. If you want to truly optimize your website, your best bet is to have an SEO and metadata specialist do it for you. Our SEO team members at Reader Digital Agency in San Diego are metadata experts, and they’re ready to help drive more traffic and sales your way. Contact Reader Digital at (619) 483-4600 to learn more about our services or to request a free website audit today.