How MetaData Helps Improve Website Rankings
Every time you are considering watching a new movie, you will likely first watch a trailer for it. A movie trailer gives you a feel for what the main story is, some of the highlights and whether it’s worth watching at all.
In a similar way, search engines will rank your site based on a variety of key factors. Keyword phrases, domain authority, dwell time, and backlinks all play a part in a search engine ranking.
Good quality content will let your potential visitors know if your site might be worth visiting. But the first factor that will let the web crawler (and Google’s algorithm) know your site is worth a visit is the metadata.
What is MetaData?
In search engine terms, the metadata on your site lets Google’s algorithm understand whether the contents of your website is relevant and valuable for your visitors.
Metadata is like the trailer or highlights or your website for the search algorithm. It’s what creates the context of the content you have on your website. Without meta data, the search engines have to guess what your webpage is about, and are much less likely to rank your site well.
If you want to rank well in the search engine result, you need to let the search engine crawler know what you offer.
Meta Tags Help Describe Your Site
One of the most critical aspects of the Search Engines finding your site is to have the correct meta tags in place. A meta tag is a technical term for telling the Search Engine what you’re writing about. It’s one of the metadata tools available to you to help the search engine better understand your site.
Meta tags are snippets of text that help describe a page’s content to the search engines. The meta tags don’t appear on the actual page itself, but are only visible in the website page’s source code. You might sometimes hear this called structured data as it is essentially giving meaning to the search algorithm.
You can think of meta tags as content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about.
The Most Important Metadata Elements
Each metadata element will help your rank better on the SERP (search engine result page). There is no metadata standard per se, but there are different types of metadata that you need to know about and add to your site:
- Title Tags – a short description that includes relevant keywords in your page title
- Meta Description – a longer description of what the site visitor will view as page content
- Headings (H1) and Subheadings (H2, H3) – the title of the page, and main topic headings
If you get these three elements of metadata working for you, the search engine bots will find it much easier to rank your site well. Every met tag you add helps the different search engines to better rank you in their search result.
Titles and Meta Descriptions Help Visitors
The Title Tag of your website is like the cover of a book or a news headline. It grabs attention and keeps it if the person is interested. A good meta title will match well with keywords for a particular search term. It helps a site to rank higher in search engine result pages.
A Meta Description is another paragraph of text placed in the head of a webpage. It is commonly displayed in a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) snippet along with a title and page URL. Not that is not necessarily shown on the page visible to the visitors, but rather at the code level. The purpose of a good meta description is to reflect the essence of a page, but with more details and context.
While meta descriptions are not an official SEO ranking factor, it still impacts the interest of the searcher with your website. In terms of meta description length, Google search generally only shows the first 155–160 characters. A good meta description is long enough to be descriptive, so aim for anywhere between 50–160 characters.
Another valuable aspect of title tags and meta descriptions is that that they help to populate the right layout for sites like Twitter and Facebook whenever your content is shared
Using Headings to Keep People Reading
Headings will help to increase readability of the page. Most readers today will scan a page via the heading and subheading. If these look interesting or seem to contain information they need, then they will continue to read the paragraph below them.
On the technical side, the H1 headings help the bots to know which keywords are most important for the page. Any words included in H1 or H2 headings will have more weight than other text on a page.
Following Best SEO Practices Helps Your Visitors
When you design your website, you have to think of it as having two different goals: to engage your users and to be ranked well by Search Engines.
SEO can be very confusing because you have to ensure you are ticking many boxes. When writing the site content (i.e., the words on your site), you must think of how the search engines will interpret it, just as much as the people who visit.
At a minimum, you should aim to:
- Create a unique title for your page that describes the page’s content concisely
- Keep the titles around 50-60 characters long (so they don’t get cut off in SERPs).
- Put your most important keywords first. However, do this in a natural manner, don’t do it to cram in keywords
- Add alt text to each image on your site so the website crawlers understand their meaning
- Make use of your brand name in titles, so people know who you are
- Remember that the key to attracting more visitors to your website is to make it findable and valuable. By using keywords that are relevant to the page topic and the correct meta tags, you are doing many things right.
In conclusion: the easier you make it for a search engine crawler to understand your website content, the easier it will be for people to find you. The higher you rank in a major search engine such as Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo the more likely you are to attract new visitors. With metadata in place, you are also more likely to capture a rich snippet on Google.
Adding the correct metadata to your site isn’t that hard to implement yourself. You don’t really need a web developer, just some basic experience with HTML. Take the time to add