Through The Eyes Of A Search Engine: Metadata And Your Searchability

by | Jul 9, 2015 | Author Platform Resources, Search Engine Optimization | 1 comment

metadata

The eyes of a search engine are upon you.
Any metadata you provide, it’s gonna see.
When you have an author website, look behind you.
’Cause that’s where the search engine’s gonna be.

Search engines, such as Google, are changing their algorithms all the time. So if you want to make sure your author website is always at the top of search results, it’s important to pay attention to the latest trends in SEO.

Recently, metadata has become one of the chief elements used by search engines to determine a page’s content. In fact, metadata has become more important than keywords for increasing page rankings overall. But just what is metadata, and how can writers use it to its fullest potential? Let’s find out.

What Is Metadata?

Metadata, simply put, is data about data. In Web design, it is generated by the use of meta tags in HTML to provide information about a Web page to the browser or search engines indexing that page. Metadata describes your author website’s content in a way that Web browsers and search engines can understand.

Metadata is also used by people who are searching for key terms online. If you specify metadata, it will often show up in search engine results. Every time you do a Web search, the results you’re seeing are metadata.

Here are the three most effective ways metadata communicates with search engines:

  • Description Attribute (description=“text”)
    • The meta description usually accompanies a page or post and gives a succinct description of that page or post. Generally fewer than 160 characters long, the meta description is a quick way to tell a search engine what your page or post is about using sentences that can be read by the user in search results. For best results when composing a description, use the key terms that a potential visitor might type into a search engine to find your page/post.
  • ALT Attribute (alt=“text”)
    • The ALT Attribute is used to specify alternative text to be displayed when the element to which it is associated cannot be rendered. The ALT Attribute is often used by search engines to index and categorize images within pages and posts. For example, if your author website has a picture of you riding a horse, you might give the image the ALT Attribute “John Smith riding a horse.” With that ALT Attribute, your image will be categorized by the search engine accordingly, and anyone who can’t see the image will know what it’s supposed to display.
  • Rich Snippets
    • Rich Snippets are the short lines of text often displayed beneath a URL in a search result. These can be achieved by using certain HTML tags within your page or post’s copy. Learn how to create rich snippets.

What About Keywords?

Using specific keywords in your page/post text has become mostly irrelevant in terms of searchability and SEO. While keywords were used in the past to categorize pages and posts, most search engines have abandoned keywords for more reliable sources such as metadata.

How To Start Using Metadata To Increase Your Searchability

If you’re using WordPress, many themes come with meta description editors installed. If your theme does not, you can use the WordPress SEO Plugin from Yoast. This plugin creates a back-end editor for your pages and posts that allows you to enter metadata. It even scores how well you’ve written your text.

And if you’re using Google Chrome as your Web browser, META SEO inspector will help you view the metadata of all of your pages to see what’s missing and what can be improved!

One Warning About Mastering Metadata

If you don’t specify metadata, a search engine will “create” the metadata for your page or post based on the content of that page or post. This is not always the ideal scenario, because nuances of your page or post will not necessarily register with the search engine if it is left to its own devices.

Also, it’s important to remember that while metadata has become the new Knight in Shining Armor of SEO, content is still key. Entering metadata alone won’t bring your author website to number one in the search results. Be sure to fill your pages and posts with useful information that users crave. Search engines want to make sure your content is reliable; so make sure to actually write strong content and deliver on your promises. Readers—and search engines—will appreciate it.

QUESTION: Do you use metadata to its fullest potential on your author website?

1 Comment

  1. Elaine Carnegie

    I have been struggling with this. Hopefully, I got it right but I love that you offer the guide. Thanks!

    Reply

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