Metadata is critical to creating complete on-page SEO structure. Learn how key metadata is used on your site, and how to take advantage of the technology available to you to engage with your potential clients.
Some simple changes to your site might just add up to real improvement on the Google search results!
Is metadata self-referential, and if so, would that be too meta? Greg, here, from mtek. This week’s tip is about meta data. Meta data is information that’s included within the code of your pages that helps provide information to other sources or other users of the page—particularly search engines or crawlers. That metadata usually consists of a page title, meta description, meta author information, meta keywords, and a few other very seldom-used fields. In fact, meta keywords is one that has dropped off the radar. For many years meta keywords were used to describe the content of a page by using keywords of the page in a very specific location that search engines would use when indexing. That tactic was abused heavily for a number of years. You may recall back in the early days of the internet, 2000 to 2005 or 2006, you would often run into pages on the web that would have a block at the bottom of an article or a page that had hundreds and hundreds of keywords in text that matched the colour of the background—that was a way to stuff those keywords into the page, and if you looked at the code you would see there was probably an exact replica of the contents of the meta keywords tag. As a result major search engines have pretty much decided to ignore that tag. Meta keywords: Gone. The keywords still have a place and that is in your content, but there are other meta tags that serve an important purpose. The title tag is incredibly important. Its purpose, Number One: To identify what the page is about, and that page is the first tag encountered by most search engine crawlers when they’re doing their indexing. It’s also critical because it is the tag that populates the text on the tab of the page in your browser. Therefore, it’s the first thing on your screen, technically, that people will see about your content. Beware, it’s short. Most title tags, you’ll probably have less than 50 characters to work with. 65 is the standard for a title tag line, so anywhere between 55 and 65 characters is ideal. However, even that may extend past the length of the tab in your browser. So, when you write that title tag, make sure that your keywords or your page subject is as close to the beginning of that tag as possible. That way, the most important words will still show up even if people have an entire browser full of tabs (and we’ve all seen it). The meta description tag is the second most important piece of information on your page. Specifically because Google uses this piece of information to populate the description of your page on the search results, your title will form the search link that people see in blue type on the Google page or on the Bing page. The meta description is used to fill in the description of your page on the search results. If you don’t fill it in, Google will extract some content from your page randomly (seemingly, randomly) that it believes your page is about and will put that in the search results. If that’s not exactly what you were hoping for, well, then you should have defined a meta description. The meta description gives you a place to use your keywords again, to make sure that people who are visiting understand exactly what your page is about, and if you’ve got enough room, you may even be able to get a phone number or a contact point in there. The meta description tag can be 160 characters long. You can go longer but you will get truncated, and if you go too short, well, you’re wasting valuable space. 160 characters isn’t very much to describe an entire page, but again, if you’re focused and you’re on topic, you shouldn’t have any problem doing it. Those are the key pieces of meta data to be thinking about. You would be amazed at how frequently people don’t actually set them. Your title is a must. Meta description is incredibly valuable for converting someone from a searcher on Google to a visitor on your site. There are some tools out there that can help. Screaming Frog offers a meta tag analyzer that will help you identify tags on your site that may be duplicated or meta data that may be duplicated, and SEOCentro (SEOCentro.com in particular) also has a meta data analyzer. By using the tools that are out there for free, you’ve got a much better chance of spotting a potential problem with your meta data and correcting it quickly. Remember, it’s not about getting everything right; it’s about getting a little more right every day. I’m Greg, from Mtek. Thanks for watching this tip. Be sure to hit that “Subscribe” button; hit the “Like” button if you found this tip useful, and we will see you again in another episode.