An Introduction to Metadata Elements and Best Practices
Do you remember last week, when you googled, “What is a balloon?”
Wait, that might have been me.
Anyway, the first result that came up on Google was from Merriam Webster, which said (without actually clicking on the link), “balloon definition is a nonporous bag of light material that can be inflated, especially with air or gas.” The short description under the website title is the meta description. Interesting right! You may have wondered how you change that. Well, get ready to learn how and even more interesting facts about meta.
You may not be thinking about meta when you are writing content or creating the design for your website, and that’s why we are here. We are going to get into why metadata is important and why you need it. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be an SEO expert to do this! We’ll walk you through the steps and what you need to know to make an impact on your website.
What is Metadata? And Why is Metadata Important?
Metadata means “data about data,” and that’s exactly what you are writing. In other words, it’s information that’s used to describe the data that’s contained on something like a web page, document, or file. (Think your content, images, dates, authors, etc.) With that said, metadata is the umbrella of all the types of meta that we are going to dive into in this post – meta title, meta description, and URL.
Metadata is an important element in optimizing a web page. It helps a website rank well in the search engines and receive the highest number of visitors. Metadata determines what a search engine displays when your page turns up in the search engine results page (SERP) after someone performs a search. Without metadata, Google, Bing, and other search engines won’t be able to find your content. It gives you a chance to optimize your content.
Not only is it important for SEO, but it's essential for the person that is searching for content. The meta title helps them understand what the page is about and should compel them to click your page vs. the other options presented on the search results. Your meta description should intrigue and inform. It should intrigue people with persuasive language, and it should inform with the content that the searcher is looking for in their search.
Let’s get meta-started! 😂
Elements of Metadata & Best Practices
A meta title, also referred to as the SEO title, is the blue underlined title that is shown on the search results. The recommended character limit is 50 to 60, although Google allows up to 65 and a minimum of 30. When a person is searching, they shouldn’t have to do a lot of digging to find what they are looking for; the meta title should tell them what the article covers. It's important to include keywords as well. This will help the search engine identify what the page is about to show it on relevant searches.
The meta title is what visitors first see before arriving at your site. It is their first impression of your company. When well-written, it will help you stand out from the other search results and increase your chances of attracting new customers.
In DirectLync, whether you are writing a title tag for a page on your website or the meta title for a blog, you need to make it short and to the point. We suggest keeping the title simple with only the page name and the company name. A person searching for a company isn't going to be impressed if all their page titles are unorganized, and not consistently presented across the website. For instance, for our DirectLync website pages, we always keep it consistent with the page name and company name. Below is an example of our Case Studies page. If you are a local business, you’ll also want to include your location in your meta titles.
The meta description is a short summary of the content available on a particular webpage. The meta description is displayed by search engines as text under the title. It should be unique and descriptive for every web page. It is more likely for someone to click on the page if the description is accurate, informative, and includes a call to action. The recommended character count is 120 to 160.
In DirectLync, in your Website CMS module under pages or blog posts, you can input your meta descriptions. When it comes to writing your meta description, give an accurate summary of the page, include a call-to-action, and make it unique. For our Case Studies page, we used our name, what we can help you achieve, what our page is about, and a call-to-action. Sometimes, even add in your location or phone number too.
*FYI* Keywords only matter in the meta title and on the content of the actual page. You may add keywords into your meta description, but it won’t help you rank on search engines. Search engines automatically scan your website for keywords, factual information, and reliable sources. So, focus more on making it valuable for the person searching than on stuffing keywords.
Your meta URL should be short and sweet. The meta URL is the ending of the website URL that will bring searchers directly to a specific page. When writing a proper URL, it's a bit tricky. Below is a short guideline of how you will know if you have a working URL.
In DirectLync, your URL in your blog post is pre-populated for you, but you can edit it to create your own. When entering a URL, you must follow these guidelines for your URL to work and be effective.
- There must be a dash (-) in between each word instead of a space
- Keep it short and simple (especially if the title is longer)
- Cannot use apostrophes, quotations, or any symbols
- No spaces in between words
Tips for writing meta tags
When writing content for your meta title and descriptions, keep the following in mind:
- Every page of your website should have unique titles and descriptions
- Make sure descriptions are well written and accurately describe each page
- Keep titles under 60 characters
- Keep descriptions under 160 characters
- Write your descriptions with marketing and sales in mind
Metadata, when done correctly, can have an impact on page ranking and site traffic. Take advantage of these metadata best practices and put them to use next time you are writing the metadata for your website. The more you write metadata, the easier it’s going to become for you. The trick is to think about the person searching – what they are searching for, what would they want to see, etc. And then, add in what you can do to help a search engine identify what your page is about and when to show it in searches. Now it’s time to start writing your Meta!
Updated on January 13, 2020