Metadata is the information about a data source. For example, a document contains information, but there is also information about that document such as the title, author and publisher - this is the metadata, in other words, data about data. If we compare this to the web, every webpage has a number of metadata elements that can be set for the page. Standard metadata that should be displayed for every webpage is: the page title, the description and the keywords or phrases that summarize the content of that page and which appear within it.
Metadata is not visible on the site itself but is used by some search engines and directories to gain information about the website in order to index (catalogue) it correctly. Different search engines use metadata differently and some don’t use it at all.
The following is an example of effective metadata, that could be used by the site www.currypantry.com
Welcome to Curry Pantry, suppliers of premium Malaysian Curry Pastes.
Visit Curry Pantry for authentic, premium Malaysian Curry Pastes and sauces. For gourmet food without fuss, see our recipes for vegetable, lamb, seafood, beef or chicken curry.
Curry, curries, pantry, curry pantry, sauces, pastes, recipes, Malaysia, Malaysian, cuisine, food, history, lamb, chicken, seafood, vegetable, meat, vegetable curry, seafood curry, chicken curry, lamb curry
Writing Your MetadataKeywords / Phrases
When preparing your metadata, prepare your keywords / phrases first. This is because they should also appear in your page description and title. They should reflect the specific content of the page that you are writing for and you should consider the following:
- What are the key words / phrases that your potential customers might enter into search engines or directories to find your company, site and products?
- What keywords / phrases do your competitors use?
- How competitive is your industry (you may want to select a niche and focus upon that)
- Keywords should be limited in number (Search engines generally only permit a maximum of 25 or so, all other keywords appearing after that are ignored)
- Keywords / phrases should not be repeated too many times (Search engines ‘see’ both of these strategies as ‘spam’, false attempts to increase search engine rankings and will ignore the page / site.)
Compared to our example of effective keywords above, an example of a keyword /phrase list that would not be accepted by search engines because it is too repetitive / long would be;
Curry, curry, curry, curry, curry, curry pantry, curry pantry, curry pantry, curry pantry, curries, curries, curries, curries, curries, curries, Malaysia, Malaysia, Malaysia, Malaysia, Malaysian food, Malaysian food, Malaysian food, Malaysian Food, beef, lamb, chicken, seafood, vegetable, meat, beef, lamb, chicken, seafood, vegetable, meat, beef, lamb, chicken, seafood, vegetable, meat, food, food, food, food, recipes, recipes, recipes, recipes, recipes, Malaysian recipes, Malaysian recipes, Malaysian recipes, Malaysian recipes.
When entering your keywords / phrases they should all be separated by a comma. For example:
keyword1, keyword2, phrase one, phrase two
Having selected your keywords, it is now time to prepare your page description. This is displayed by most search engines when returning a listing of relevant sites based on a specific search. Users search for sites by entering keywords or phrases into search engines or directories and the page description is displayed beneath the title in the list of results.
For the description, write one or at most two sentences describing the page content. Incorporate your page content / metadata keywords while writing it so as to increase the chance of the web page being found by search engines and directories.
The page title is also used by search engines to gain information about the website and is the most important piece of metadata on any webpage. The page title is displayed in search result listings and also in the browser title bar whenever the page is viewed.
It is advisable to make the title no more than approximately 10 words long as anything longer than this will be truncated. Try to include keywords, rather than just the company name - preferably keywords & phrases that are also used in the page content, as well as in the metadata.
Below is an example of how our metadata example would appear when returned by Google as a hit.
Welcome to Curry Pantry, suppliers of premium Malaysian Curry Pastes
Visit Curry Pantry for authentic, premium Malaysian Curry Pastes and sauces. For gourmet food without fuss, see our recipes for vegetable, lamb, seafood, beef or chicken curry… http://www.currypantry.com - 15k - Cached - Similar pages
SummaryMetadata is an often overlooked component of many websites and many webpages. Every webpage that you have should have at least a ‘Page Title’ and ‘Page Description’. The ‘Keywords / Phrases’ meta-data is nowhere near as important as the other two as it is only used by one or two search engines – but it never hurts. All the best!!
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