The Truth about your website’s metadata impact on search

by Ray Larson
  |  February 9, 2017  |  
February 9, 2017

Recently, all of the news about improving SEO and how your website is ranking on Google has pretty much focused on “going mobile” with faster speed and localization of your site.  A lot of people have forgotten about “regular” SEO practices, but Google hasn’t.  Want to know the truth about metadata and how it impacts your search rank?  Read on.

Metadata – the basics

With so much focus on website ranking going to mobile speed and localization, fewer people are still looking at metadata. Big mistake.  Google still relies heavily on metadata and so do your search results.  If you don’t get it, don’t worry.  It’s not as difficult as it sounds.  

Let’s start with this: “Metadata – What is it?”

In general you already know that “data” is just another way of saying “information” and may know that “meta” means “after, next, across”, etc.  It’s a Greek word root that really means “next important.”  Put it together and “metadata” is “important data that Google considers next,” after looking at your website as a whole.  

Having this information already identified makes it easy for Google to find — any time you can make it easy for Google, you make it better for yourself.

Metadata is often described in “tags.”  This is because they are bits of information that “tags” your website or a particular page with those bits of data that Google wants to see quickly.  

Like a clothing tag tells you what brand, size or material a shirt is, a “meta tag” tells the subject, basic idea and categorizes the information on the page.

Metadata – the parts

For a while, a long time actually, metadata was considered one of “the” most important SEO practices.  Over the past couple of years, more focus has been put on “mobile” and a lot of people have forgotten about metadata.  

So much so that a lot of sites aren’t even using it.  They should be and so should you.  Though Google is using a lot of “localization” to rank your website in comparison to your competitors, it still needs that metadata to know what and who you are.

So far, it sounds confusing.  Well, really it isn’t so hold tight.

  • Title tags

You have a title to your webpage or a blog posting.  Is this the same as your title?  Well, maybe, but maybe not.  Your title might tell the reader what to expect from your article — unless your title is written to be “catchy” and then it won’t.

A title tag tells Google and your reader what they can expect from your page or blog post so it needs to be straightforward.  For example:  A blog post about artificial ingredients in natural products might be titled “When “green” products aren’t.”  

Someone who saw that title might not know that your article was about chemicals that are found in a lot of natural products.  You would need to have a title tag that said more like “Your natural “green” products may have artificial chemicals.”

 The good news is that Google matches up “similar” terms so your wording doesn’t have to be exact, but people who search for “chemicals in natural products” will still find your article.

At worst, having a title tag means that you have the “catchy” title and a second “informational” title, but a lot of the time your title ”Best dry cleaning service in Austin, Texas” works just perfectly.

  • Header tag

Again — don’t be scared off.  A “header” is simply the title of a section. A header tag is part of the way Google knows that the next section and the rest of your page has important information like the title said.

For our “green” products blog — a good subsection might be titled “Green household cleaners.”  Google sees that it matches it to your “green products theme” and adds it to the value of your page.

 A simple subtitle like that works as  your header tag.  For the rest of your subsections (and header tags), you might want “Green bodycare products” and so on.

Header tags are important for Google but those subsections are also important for your readers.  They break up the page, which makes it more “visually appealing” and easy to read.

  • Blog post tags

This one is the easiest.  Easy to understand and easy to manage.  When you go to a blog, you can often sort previously written blogs by “category.”  This is because each post has been “tagged” or categorized.  

Most blogging templates or publishing platforms will allow you to create categories and then pick from the “category” that a particular post fits into.  

It is an index of sorts for your readers but also tells google that your site has more content that is similar.  Blog post tags can help to increase your “authority” and have some effect on your SEO.  

If your site is for a housecleaning service that uses “natural” methods and products, Google may see you as a more authoritative resource than another business that offers, but doesn’t specialize, in that area.

  • Last thing – Meta description

Your meta description is kind of an extension of your title tag.  The meta description is what you want to show in the two lines just below your title.  It is a slightly longer statement about why a user should click your site.  

A good meta description for your green products blog might be “Learn what artificial chemicals might be hiding in your natural products and how you can really “go green.”

If you don’t have a meta description — Google will fill it in with the first few words of your site but if you write one — you’ll be better off.

So how does  Google find the meta tags?  Meta tags can be written into the “code” of your website, it can be gleaned from some of your text, but fortunately — most website templates are setup to automatically find it or even provide a handy-dandy place for you to list it yourself.

You still need to localize and make sure your site is ready for mobile.  Local search is a huge deal, but you can’t forget about “regular” SEO or how metadata can impact your website in search.  

Is your website optimized for local search? Find out everything you need to know about localization with our SEO Localization White Paper!

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