Metadata Best Practices
When it comes to ranking, the best way to do that is by optimising your site for both Google and your users.
And the best way to do that is by making sure your metadata is optimised.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what metadata is, the different types of metadata, as well as metadata best practices to get the most out of your meta work.
What Is Metadata?
In short, metadata is data about the data on your site.
While metadata takes a myriad of shapes and forms, the main use of the term is for giving a brief overview of what you’re talking about on any given page.
When it comes to SEO, metadata will appear in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) by using keywords which are relevant to what’s happening on the page.
Metadata can be broken up into three parts:
- A meta title (also known as the page title)
- A meta description
- URL structure
Meta titles are the first thing you see on a Google search result.
When figuring out meta titles, it’s vital that you include keywords as close to the beginning of the title as possible.
Adding in the website name is great for branding purposes, as most people don’t usually keep the company name in mind when looking for results – they just want what’s relevant to them.
When writing meta titles, make sure it’s designed for humans – not search engines.
While they help search engines match what people search for, it’s ultimately up to the user to decide what’s relevant to them.
Meta Title Best Practices
- Give each page a unique title – it’ll help them all stand out.
- Keep your title between 50 – 60 characters (including spaces).
- Put your most important keywords first in the most natural way possible.
- Use your brand name in the title. Even if the user doesn’t see it, the search engine will.
When it comes to metadata best practices, meta descriptions are usually the ones with the most emphasis placed on them.
In short, the meta description’s job is to elaborate on your meta title by offering a short, concise summary of what the user can expect to find on the page. While the meta title is more important in ranking, the meta description will (ultimately) be what determines whether or not you’ll get a click on that result. If you’ve done well with your keyword research, it’ll show up in bold for the user result, which will catch the user’s attention, and increase the chance of them clicking through to find out more.
Meta Description Best Practices
- Give each page a unique description that clearly shows what that page is about.
- Keep it between 150 – 160 characters (including spaces).
- Include the most important keywords so that they’re highlighted – be careful of keyword stuffing, though. Google won’t like it.
- You can make use of call-to-actions to grab attention as well.
URL structures are one of the most basic elements of metadata, and one of the most important.
At its core, your URL structure is the one thing that’ll have the most sway on the search engine as opposed to the user.
Its job is to tell Google exactly what you’re talking about on that page.
If your meta description and title speak about one thing, but your link leads to something completely different, chances are that the user won’t bother clicking through.
URL Structure Best Practices
- Ensure you’ve got an SSL certificate
- Stick to around 50 characters
- Use “-” in place of your spaces
- Aim for 3 – 5 words in your URL
If you’re looking to optimise your website to rank better, you absolutely have to follow metadata best practices.
This is a space where towing the line between user and search engine merges, and being able to find the balance isn’t just beneficial for your ranking – it teaches you how to create SEO-friendly content in other aspects of your website too.
Optimising your site for off-page can seem complicated. That’s why it’s always handy to have an SEO agency audit your website to ensure both your users and Google are experiencing your website at its optimum.