Is metadata an important SEO factor?

Written on 06 December, 2016 by Ben Pearce
Categories: Search Engine Optimisation

You will see the term "metadata" on all SEO checklists, but what is it and is it an important factor for SEO?

In this article, I will break down what metadata is and whether it's still important for SEO.

What is metadata?

Metadata is pieces of text that describe what the page is about. Metadata doesn't always appear on the page itself when reading, but is embedded within the code of a page.

Most metadata is created using HTML code and is used by search crawlers to effectively index your page for the right keywords. Without the right metadata practices on your website, your page may not rank for your intended keywords.

The three most important metadata tags

Every responsive website will have three metadata tags. They are:

Title – The actual title of your page will be placed in a metadata tag. If your website is hosted on WordPress, then it will also be wrapped around the Heading 1 tag. Your website title is the first piece of data web crawlers use to identify who your page is relevant to.

Meta description – This is typically 160 characters and provides the searcher with a description of your page. The meta description isn't shown on your website, only within search listings.

For example, the text below the URL is the meta description.

metadata

A strong meta description can be the difference between a searcher clicking your search listing over your competitor's. Pages that don't contain a meta description are typically ranked lower in the search.

Keyword – The keyword meta tag tells search engines the keyword your page is trying to rank for. Matt Cutts, Head of the Google's Webspam team, said Google no longer uses the keyword tag as a ranking factor, but that doesn't mean you should ignore it.

It is still used by other major search engines and is a useful tool to provide internal structure to your website and allow you to internally keep track of the keywords you have used so far.

Should you bother with metadata?

Yes, you should.

Search engines use over 200 ranking factors including metadata. Not doing so would only hinder your search visibility. Metadata is also seen by users during their search period, so a well-crafted title and meta description can see your page drive more traffic to your website.

Google uses click through rates as a ranking factor when prioritising content. For example, if your page is listed fifth on Google but receives more clicks than listings placed second and fourth, then Google may bump up your listing as it's more relevant to searchers.

Are all your website pages listed with the correct metadata tags to rank your business as high as possible? If you're unsure, then you can get in touch with us today to find out more.