Metadata, Meta Tags, Web Page Titles, Descriptions Explained

Metadata meta tags titles descriptions SEOIn the Web World the term Metadata is an important element in optimizing a web page or a website to rank well in the search engines and receive the greatest amount of visitors. In a broad sense Metadata means “data about data.” In a web context these elements are also often referred to as meta tags, and sometimes, meta data.

When it comes to web pages, Metadata and meta tags refer to the title and description of a web page that are encoded into the page but not actually displayed on the screen with the page. The real consumer of this invisible data and HTML code are the search engines, as this data provides important information to search engines about the content and purpose of the web page.

In the visible world, Metadata determines what a search engine displays when your page turns up in the search engines results page (SERP) after someone performs a search.

“Metadata determines what a search engine displays when your page shows up in the SERPs”

Impressions or Clicks?

The content of the Page Title and Page Description also have a direct impact on which terms or keywords the given web page will rank for in the search engines. Better constructed Titles and Descriptions can result in better rankings and more visitors to your website, key goals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Well written Titles and Descriptions can get searchers to click through to your site regardless of the location on the SERP. A page with a well written and engaging description ranked at number 4 or 5 can potentially get more clicks that the page ranked number 2. This can be the difference between “impressions”, or views of the search engine results page, and getting a searcher to actually click on the link and visit your website.

Main Elements of Web Page Metadata:

Title: This Metadata element, sometimes referred to as the SEO Title, shows up as an underlined blue link on the search engine results page (SERP) with the search phrase bolded. All or part of the Title will also be displayed in the upper left hand corner of your browser.

The page Title is considered the single most important element on the page for telling the search engines what the page is about and which keywords to focus on. Titles should be 70 characters or less including spaces. You should have a unique Title and Description for every page.

The actual code will look something like: “< title > This is the Page Title < /title >” when viewing the source code of a web page.

Meta Description: this element is displayed directly below the Title and the page URL in the SERPs. The description is limited to approximately 160 characters including spaces and provides further information describing what a visitor might find on the webpage. The more accurate and informative a description is, the more likely someone will click on the link on the SERP and visit the webpage. There should be a unique description for every page on the website.

“There should be a unique description for every page on the website.”

If the search engine does not find a Description meta tag used for a web page the search engine with attempt to use the most logical content it can find on the page, generally from the beginning of the page.

The actual code will look something like:
< meta name =”description” content = “This is where the description data will be located” / >  when viewing the source code of the web page.

Meta Keywords: This meta tag has diminished in importance to the point it is rarely used anymore. Most search engines ignore the tag. It is important no to confuse this meta tag with the on-page keywords that are used within the text of webpage and are an important, visible part of the webpage.

How Title Tags & Meta Descriptions Look in Actual Results

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand word – or more. The Screenshot below provides a good illustration of the Title and Meta Description in action.

Box #1 points to where the text from the Title Metadata is displayed on the actual SERP.
Box #2 points to the where the text from the “Meta Description” is displayed.

Metadata Titles Description SEO Web Presence

Some Key points to remember about Metadata:

1. When used effectively Metadata can have a significant impact on a page ranking better for targeted Keywords.

2. A well-crafted Title and Description can help motivate searchers to click through to your website.

3. Missing or incomplete Metadata can limit search engines and prevents pages from ranking.

4. Clicks to your web page are more important that just showing up in the search results (impressions) so write compelling Title and Descriptions

5. Create unique Titles and Descriptions for all pages.

It’s worth it to take the time to do it right and create engaging and informative Titles and Descriptions. After taking the time to create the content on the page make the extra effort to help potential visitors find your content.

About Mike McEvoy

Mike McEvoy has a strong and successful history in the technology business world. With more than 25 years as a technology, marketing and Internet professional, Mike has also been a small business owner since 2002.
The primary focus of Mike and his team is on helping small businesses build a stronger web presence using digital marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, social media and email marketing.
 Connect with Mike on Twitter - @Mike_McEvoy and @WebPresenceBiz