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Metadata Best Practices For SEO And More
Posted by Cameron Francis on January 02, 2014 in SEO

Metadata has become increasingly important over time. Metadata began with things as simple as the meta description tags and page title, and then progressed to include a number of protocols such as Open Graph, Schema.org, Twitter Card and even more.

metadata

Inserting the proper metadata in your code has numerous benefits. These benefits are not limited to SEO but also include brand engagement and social media. We will examine some of the main elements of metadata, how they can help you, their implementation, and some helpful tools.

Titles and Descriptions

Simple title meta description tags remain important for SEO purposes. It is still imperative that you include your keyword in the title and have a descriptive meta tag description text.

Many social media platforms, such as Facebook, still use the title and description tags and display them when a link is shared.

Schema.org 

Schema.org was created by an alliance of large search engines to come up with a common structured protocol. Schema.org is quite extensive, and it has numerous tags that cover a very wide range of scenarios.

Google uses Schema.org tags in a variety of ways.  The use that is most noticeable is to display rich snippets for movies, concerts, recipes, and to denote content types such as articles or embedded videos. In addition, Schema.org has an effect upon the results of local searches.

Since Schema.org tags can become a bit complex, it is useful to check your code with Google’s testing tool, called the Structured Data Testing Tool. There are several tools that you can use to create schema tags that include, the WP Schema Creator, which is a WP plugin by Raven, and the Microdata Generator. 

Open Graph

Originally created by Facebook and currently enjoying wide acceptance by the internet community, the Open Graph protocol is used in order to give semantic data about videos, web pages, and other types of content that is shared.

You can use Open Graph tags in order to specify the way content will appear when you share it on Facebook.  It can also be used by search engines as a signal. Using Open Graph on an image that is part of a web page can be a powerful tool, since the image will have a big impact on user engagement with the post the image is used in,  on user newsfeeds.

Twitter Card 

If you have recently seen attractive tweets showing up in a Twitter stream, it is likely that they were implemented using Twitter Card, which is fairly new.  Twitter Card has a lot of similarities to Open Graph.  It enables people to enhance the appearance of content that is tweeted.

There are a number of Twitter Card types that can be specified in combination with the URL and text that you want to appear when you tweet the URL.

The implementation of Twitter Card is fairly simple. Place the Twitter Card tags in the HTML and then use the Validator Tool to test them. However, you must apply for acceptance into this program by using the Twitter Developer’s website.

Just inserting the tags is not sufficient. You must apply and receive acceptance, which may take several weeks.

Metadata That Is Google Specific 

Google has created quite a number of custom meta tags. The two that have the most effect upon SEO are the publisher and authorship meta tags.

If you use the authorship met tag, and you also add the website into the “contributor to” area of your profile on Google Plus, you will be able to get the rich snippet that will put your profile picture in Google’s search results adjacent to your content.

Author tags are used for individuals and publisher tags are normally used for businesses. Publisher tags won’t provide you with a rich snippet. However, it makes a clear connection between a Google Plus page and your site. In some cases it can result in your Google Plus brand assets showing up in Google’s Knowledge Graph for queries that are branded.

Metadata Implementation

While the use of the semantic web and metadata is growing by leaps and bounds, it is also becoming much easier to use the tags.

If you are a WordPress user, there are already a number of plug-ins that provide an easy way to add tags from various metadata protocols into your content. How well the plug-ins function can be dependent on the type of WP theme you are using, but most of the plug-ins will at least be able to provide Schema.org tags and Google authorship tags into your content. Several useful WP plug-ins include:

SEO Ultimate This plugin will enable you to create Schema.org, Open Graph, Twitter Card, and HTML standard metadata tags.

Yoast WP SEO  A plug-in that is essential for SEO on WP. Enables users to edit HTML metatags, Open Graph, and Twitter Card tags.

Long Term Metadata Outlook

As bloggers and brands continue to benefit from the addition of metadata, it is likely that its use will continue to rapidly expand. Metadata helps to provide more structure to all of the disorder on the web and it assists people in finding the information they are seeking. It also helps content to rank better in search engines and makes it more attractive for social sharing.

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Cameron Francis

Co-Founder

Cameron Francis is the CoFounder & Managing Director of ETRAFFIC, Melbourne's #1 Creative & Digital Marketing Agency. For over a decade Cameron has been providing growth marketing and digital strategies for over 2,000 small businesses, start-ups & entrepreneurs around the country.
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