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How Metadata Can Improve your SEO Ranking

Maddie Synoground

By Maddy Synoground | Apr 28, 2022

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Search engines are constantly changing and updating, with no two engines using the same algorithm. Some experts estimate that Google changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times a year. At that rate, it might seem impossible to stay on top of your organization’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. If your business relies on website traffic to be successful, finding an effective, consistent method to influence its search performance is key.

To find consistency in the ever-evolving world of SEO, it’s necessary to first understand where it currently exists in your organization. One place it’s likely to be found is in the standards and processes around your digital assets. These assets are the core of your business, and with the right information consistently attached to them, you can easily find, reference, and distribute them, and also significantly improve your search engine ranking. To better understand how your metadata can influence your SEO, let’s break them both down.

What is Metadata?

Metadata, or data about your data, is information applied to your digital assets that contain descriptive and relevant information. Often, when looking at creative assets, key information and context are missing. Metadata can provide that information in a structured and straightforward way. When applied correctly, using well-established taxonomies and best practices, it significantly increases the quality and value of your assets.

The three main types of metadata are descriptive, administrative, and structural.

  • Descriptive metadata is information that identifies and describes the asset. (i.e. Who, what, where, when)
  • Administrative metadata is information about the management of the asset. (i.e. Copyright, usage, licensing information)
  • Structural metadata is information that describes the relationship between different parts of the asset. (i.e. Page numbers, chapters, tables of contents)

Deciding which type of metadata to add to your assets depends on your industry, types of assets, and the critical information needed to better define them and their use. Book publishers, for example, benefit greatly from structural metadata describing the relationship between pages of books.

Some of the most common metadata fields are Description, Keywords, and Copyright Information. Using these three fields, as well as a combination of others, you can successfully capture the most important information about an asset and ensure its proper use going forward. Here’s a breakdown of the information that belongs in each field:

Description: Who, What, Where, When

Keywords: Relevant words or phrases not already captured in the description

Copyright Information: ex. ©John Smith Photography

Basic Metadata Fields in Adobe Bridge

The best approach to metadata is a consistent one. Whatever industry you’re in, and whatever metadata you choose to apply to your digital assets, creating best practices and control based on your approach is important. Depending on where you store your assets, there are multiple ways to approach this.

In some DAM (digital asset management) platforms, you can input values that users can select upon upload. You can even require certain fields when uploading so each asset has a minimum amount of metadata before living in the DAM system. Controlling these fields is a great way to avoid errors like differences in language or terminology and guide users to input the correct values from your existing taxonomy.

What Is SEO?

Now that you better understand metadata and how it can improve the quality and value of your assets, let’s dig into SEO. SEO is the process of optimizing information in a website to improve the amount and quality of its traffic. Instead of reading your website content, search engines index it by seeking out information in specific metadata fields. Where you ‘rank’ in SEO refers to your website’s position in a particular search engine’s results. Various factors contribute to your overall ranking, including your page speed, the age of your domain, and how accessible it is.

User search is often the primary source of traffic to a brand’s website. Optimizing your website to match your customers’ search experience determines the amount and quality of your organic traffic. Since SEO is a core building block of your marketing efforts, understanding how and what potential customers search for can significantly influence your SEO ranking. While there are various ways to approach this, including blogging and creating consistent, high-quality content, connecting your metadata and SEO efforts can impact your business significantly.

Connecting Metadata and SEO

Connecting your metadata and SEO efforts can improve both the value of your assets and the quality and amount of your website’s traffic. The three main SEO fields stored in a webpage’s metadata, also known as metatags, are ‘SEO Description,’ ‘SEO Keywords,’ and ‘SEO Title.’ These fields can be accessed via your CMS (content management system) or other website builder and are crucial to optimizing each web page.

SEO Description: Information summarizing the content of the page. This is what users see when your page comes up in search results.

SEO Keywords: Additional words or phrases summarizing the page. Think about how you would search for your particular content when creating keywords.

SEO Title: The title should summarize the page as a whole. It’s one of the most important fields that aid in search engine optimization

An effective way to optimize the words and phrases used in your SEO metatags is to link Google Analytics to your DAM platform. Doing so can give you insight into how users in your organization are searching for assets and can serve as a guide for potential metatags.

While your current metadata approach might not align with your SEO metadata requirements, it’s important to understand and test the differences in how internal users and potential customers search for your content. Your SEO metadata will probably need tuning and adjusting, but creating standards and best practices around it will significantly influence your SEO efforts and the overall quality of your website’s content. When in doubt, keep it simple and consistent.

Need help developing your organization’s taxonomy and metadata best practices? See how Stacks can help you today!

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