How Does Metadata Affect SEO?
Just like the processor in a computer, the engine in a car, or the ink in a pen, a website’s metadata may not be immediately visible to us, but it matters in terms of its performance on search engines.
Although visitors to your site won’t see its metadata on the page, the likes of Google and Bing certainly will – and if it’s not up to scratch, you may struggle to rank at all, let alone at the top of the first SERP.
While meta descriptions are no longer considered a ranking factor, meta titles are – so it’s important to get them right.
What Does Metadata Do?
To understand how metadata (meta titles specifically) affect SEO, you first have to understand what it does.
In a nutshell, metadata (or meta tags) feeds search engines supplementary information about a webpage, telling them exactly what’s on it and what it’s about. That’s if it’s written correctly, of course. Some site owners neglect to include metadata at all (or use generic descriptions and titles), which makes it hard for search engines to discern what a page is about. In turn, this limits how likely it is to rank.
For example, say you’ve put together a comprehensive, well-written blog article about how to grow tomatoes. The content itself may be fantastic, but if the metadata is generic or missing entirely, search engines may view it as less relevant than the competition. With that said, it’s important to note that not all metadata impacts rankings; meta descriptions don’t, but they remain important for reasons we’ll discuss in a bit.
When adding metadata to your site, make sure it’s concise (adhering to Google’s character limits) and that it accurately reflects the content on the page. Google can disregard title tags and descriptions if it doesn’t feel they’re relevant – or if they’re too long or too short.
The benefits of good metadata don’t end there. As well as potentially helping you rank, well-written metadata can persuade users to click on your site when they see it in their search results. That’s because Google displays meta descriptions and title tags on its results pages. So, make yours sound enticing enough and you may get more clicks than your competitors, even if you’re not ranked as highly on the SERP.
Metadata remains an important SEO fundamental, but it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all it perhaps once was. There’s an array of other ranking factors to consider nowadays, but metadata definitely shouldn’t be forgotten about.