What is metadata?
Metadata is essentially data about other data. In internet technology, metadata provides information about other data found in the world wide web. Its main purpose is to supply search engines, browsers, and other web tools or services information about web pages and websites.
Metadata is actually not displayed on the web pages. It is, however, visible in search engine results. For instance, when you type in Google in search engines, one of the top results has the following metadata about the search engine:
Simply put, metadata helps search engines check, collate, and give the most relevant results to internet users. In consequence, metadata plays an important role in SEO (search engine optimisation).
What are HTML meta tags?
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) meta tags are basically HTML tags within which you can put your metadata. These tags, along with the metadata in them, do not appear on web pages themselves, but in the coding of websites, particularly in index.html files.
There are many kinds of meta tags that you can put in your website. Not all of them, however, may be important or useful. If you have a website and you want search engines and web users to easily find it, here are the meta tags you might want to have in your pages:
||This will have the title of your page, and is displayed at the top of web browsers. Most search engines consider this section to be very important. Putting your top keywords here is advisable. However, make sure they are relevant to your site’s content.
It is advisable that your title tag should only have 50 to 60 characters. This is because most search engines, such as Google, only displays the first 50 to 60 characters of title metadata.
Fun fact: Title tags are HTML tags, but they are actually technically not meta tags. And according to W3C, they are necessary elements of pages.
||This should have some brief information about what your website is. It should be accurate and concise. This content can be seen under the page title in search engine result entries.
According to best SEO practices, the advisable length of description tags should not be more than 155 characters, including spaces.
||This tag should have the important terms and phrases that are relevant to your site or pages. When choosing keywords, you should consider the words or phrases you want to be associated with your site. For instance, if your website is about cats and dogs and you want it to be associated with the words "pets", "furry friends", and "pet supplies", you should add these words or phrases in your keywords tag.
Take note that you should put not more than 10 keyword phrases here.
Fun fact: Keywords used to be one of the most important SEO factors a few years ago. However, Google discovered it was being abused, and they removed its SEO value. Despite this fact, using keywords tag is still advisable, if only for tagging purposes.
||This is where you put specific instructions for web crawlers visiting your site. Although you can do without this tag, it can help you control how robots treat your pages. With this, you can actually specify the web pages you want indexed, as well as those you don’t.
Important note: It is extremely important that you are careful when creating this tag. If you accidentally type noindex, your page or whole site could be de-indexed, and disappear from search results. Potential clients will be unable to find your site, and you do not want that to happen.
Why do you need HTML meta tags?
Essentially, HTML meta tags inform search engines that they have pertinent data or information about your site. When your site has meta tags, web crawlers or net robots know to crawl your site and web pages. In turn, your site gets indexed by search engines.
Indexing by search engines is according to content relevance and keywords in your metadata.
When a user searches for something online, they type in keywords into a search box. Search engines then scour their database using the said keywords as reference. After that, the search engine collates relevant data from indexed websites and pages, and deliver them to the user in the form of search result pages.
So when you put correct and relevant metadata in your site and its individual pages, your site becomes more crawlable to search engines and more visible to users.
How to put meta tags in your site
Putting meta tags in your website will help search engines find and efficiently index it for web users. Here are some guides on how you could do that.
For Basic Sites:
- Open a text editing tool such as Notepad or Notepad++.
- Open the .html file for your web page.
- In the upper portion of the .html file, below the < head > tag, is where you should put your HTML meta tags.
- Insert the appropriate metadata in their respective sections, like in the example below.
For static websites, since each web page will be coded in its own .html file, you will need to add meta tags in every .html file so each page will be crawlable by net bots and indexed by search engines.
In the Website Builder:
If you have a registered domain and website builder, and you want to add metadata to your site, you can do the following:
- Click on My Account at the top of this page.
- Ensure that Account Manager is selected from the drop-down list.
- Enter your username and password, then click Log In.
- Click on Website Builder from the menu bar at the top of the page.
- Click on the Plan beside the domain you wish to update. If you only have one Website Builder plan, you will be taken straight to the management page.
- Click on the Build Now button to access your Dashboard.
- Click on the SEO tab from the left-side menu.
- Enter your metadata in the Title, Description, and Keywords fields; then click Submit.
In order to be sure that your metadata has been saved, visit your website and right-click anywhere on your home page that does not have an image. Then, click on the View page source option.
Check the upper part of the source code and your metadata should be listed below the < head > tag.
If you want to know more about how to further optimise your site, check out our Traffic Booster here.
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