If you have a website or work in areas related to writing or managing online content, then you’ve probably heard of metadata. This is something that cannot be avoided (and should not be done if you want to rank in search engines).
You might ask the question, “What is metadata and, more importantly, how is it used?” Let’s take a look at what metadata is and what benefits it offers.
What is metadata?
Simply put, metadata is “data that describes other data.” We know that this does not clarify the situation in the least.
Think of it this way. Metadata offers more detailed information and information about other forms of data. For example, if you are running a social media campaign, every post is data. Metadata provides information about a post, such as when and where it was published, and how many people viewed or interacted with it.
In other words, it tells you who, what, when, where, why, what and how. Metadata comes in many forms (depending on the data). For example, it can include details like title, description, keywords, links, creator, contributor, and so on.
Not all data uses the same types of metadata. Some of the different forms are:
- Descriptive metadata (title, subject, author, genre, creation date)
- Rights metadata (conditions licenses, copyright holder, copyright status)
- Save metadata (used for navigation, i.e. hierarchy or sequence of elements)
- Technical metadata (file size, name, creation date / time , file type, compression type)
- Markup languages ??(title, name, paragraph, list, date)
- Structural metadata (page numbers, sections, indexes, chapters, table of contents)
Common examples of metadata
Here’s a rundown of the different types of metadata you can find around you.
Photos – we take them all the time, and you will find all kinds of data on your hard drive. This includes information such as:
- Date and time
- File name
- Camera settings
- Geographic location
If you have a blog, you will be able to manage some of the metadata displayed for your posts. For example, you will find a meta description in search results.
Metadata contains information such as:
- Title and author
- Time and date of publication
You are responsible for creating most of the metadata in emails, such as subject, recipients, and sender. Other data is then collected, such as:
- Date and time of submission;
- Format (HTML or plain text)
- Anti-spam software information
- Server names and IP addresses of senders and recipients
- File name
- Creation date and time
- Date and time of last modification
- page title
- page description
- modified date
- Render Mode
- Reference URL
- When emails are opened;
- Which emails are bounced back (indicates an incorrect or old email)
- Which links are clicked in the email.
- What times and days the emails are opened (to find the template).
- The location of the recipients.
This will come in handy if you ever search for a file on your computer. You can enter the file name in the search box on the desktop.
Take a look at the various metadata gathered from computer files:
Web pages have metadata similar to computer files and other digital assets. For example, it contains information about:
How is metadata used?
I hope you have a better understanding of what metadata is and where to find it. Now is the time to see how this data is used.
Improving web page rank
Google and other search engines use data and metadata from your web pages to determine their ranking. The better your data is optimized, the easier it will rank for it (assuming there isn’t a lot of competition for the keywords you are targeting).
For example, you need to optimize the meta title and meta description that appears in search results. This helps search engines understand what your page is about and how it will benefit users.
Online Consumer Tracking
Have you ever noticed how ads follow you wherever you are on the Internet? It shows items that you may have searched for on the website earlier in the day or even a few days ago.
This is a great example of how brands and businesses use metadata to track consumers. E-commerce uses this method extensively because it helps them recognize their customers and create data-driven shopper profiles.
Your smartphone is another tool used to track your location and device. If you have geolocation enabled, you can see coupons and deals that appear during purchases.
Email Campaign Tracking
The average person might not care about collecting metadata from email (unless you have a legal case). As such, those who find it worthy are usually marketers, advertisers, and business owners.
Those who send out emails need to know things like:
Improving social media algorithms
Not only does Google track your browsing habits, but social media like Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram too.
Every time you like, comment, or follow, it is recorded by the platform. This then tells the algorithm what and who you like so that it can show you more relevant content.
It’s all about providing user-friendliness. It can also be useful for marketers running social media campaigns.
Improving database management with metadata
There is a lot of metadata to collect and organize, especially if you are a company owner (or small business owner). To help sort all this out, you can use tools known as data management software.
This will help you determine what each dataset is. For example, if you collect a list of emails from a campaign, the data processing tool will determine what is unique about them. In this case, these may be letters that were returned and should be removed from the campaign.
Is the metadata in the cards right for you?
You hear about metadata and big data all the time. How will things change for you with your new understanding of metadata and what it’s used for? Are you going to pay attention to the meta title, tags, and description on your WordPress dashboard? Or maybe you can find better ways to organize the files on your computer based on the type of data.
As you delve deeper into metadata, you will find that there is a lot to learn and what to do with it.