Before we delve deep into the wonders of metadata, it’s important to start with keywords. Luckily for you, I’ve already covered this off in two posts – why keyword research is so important and how to use keywords.
Without your keywords, writing your metadata is a bit of a futile task. If you’re confident that you know what you’re doing with your keywords, then let’s get started.
What is metadata?
Metadata is essentially the little bits of information which help Google figure out what your post or page is about. Robot language, if you like.
At the heart of SEO is user intent – offering both value and relevance for the user. By providing accurate metadata, you are helping Google to rank your page for the most relevant search terms. This will make it more likely that your website ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), as Google can be sure that your page or post is delivering the goods to its users.
Well-written metadata will also make your site look good on the SERPs, meaning that users are more likely to click through to your site. As long as the information you are providing in your post or page is what the user is looking for, then they are more likely to stay on your site for longer. This will lower your bounce rate, demonstrating a higher quality user experience on your site.
How do you add metadata?
Depending on your CMS, some sites will already have fields for you to add the metadata. For those that don’t, by far the easiest way to implement metadata on your site is by using a plugin. For example, WordPress users should download and use Yoast SEO.
How to write metadata
Your metadata consists of the meta title (sometimes called ‘title tags’ or ‘SEO title’) and the meta description. You may also have come across ‘meta keywords’. If you have the option to enter meta keywords, don’t do it. Leave this field blank. This is because Google does not take them into consideration and Bing considers them to be spammy. So best for everyone to just leave them out.
Meta titles should be no more than 70 characters. Otherwise, the whole of the title will not be displayed in the SERPs, which could be detrimental to click-throughs. Your meta title should feature your chosen keywords in a way that is clear and concise. If you are targeting more than one keyword then it is best practice to separate each keyword with a pipe (|).
For example, the meta title of this post could be as follows:
How To Write Metadata | Metadata SEO Tips | Pocket Wanderings
Both ‘how to write metadata’ and ‘metadata SEO tips’ are the keywords I’m targeting with this post. They only have a small search volume but they are targeted. You don’t have to include your brand name in the meta title. But if you have enough characters to spare then there’s no harm in including it.
Don’t forget that your meta title needs to encourage click-throughs. Don’t just stuff it with keywords so that it doesn’t make sense. There isn’t much point in ranking well if nobody clicks on your result.
The meta description is the little snippet of text that shows in search engine results pages. It should give a brief but accurate representation of what your post will contain. Google may include a different meta description depending on the search query but you must always write one anyway.
Google does not actually pay any attention to the meta description in terms of SEO. But hold your horses, you still need to write a description. This is because a meta description can be very influential on click-through rates. Plus, if the search query appears in your meta description, Google will highlight it in bold.
Your meta description should be around 155 characters. Try to avoid making it any longer than this, or it will be truncated. Include your keywords but in a way that is natural. First and foremost, your meta description should encourage people to click on your result above others.
Other than a slimy mollusc found in your garden, a slug is the URL title of the page. It tends to be automatically generated from your page title and should therefore already contain your keyword. The URL of your post or page should be clear and concise. Ideally it should contain your keyword but not at the cost of complicating the URL. For example, the slug for this post is:
Short and simple but informative.
Once you have your keyword, metadata takes all of five minutes to write and it can make such a difference to your Google rankings. Stick to the character limits, include your keyword and make it relevant, valuable and accurate.