Understanding the Importance of Metadata for International SEO
Many people are too lazy to configure the metadata on their website because the system can automatically generate it for you. What they fail to realize is that a meta description can significantly affect the SEO of their websites. Experts recommend tailoring metadata if you wish to boost the organic traffic to your website.
If your business goes global, meta description becomes even more vital. The competition is hard on the international market. Failing to make an excellent meta description would cause a flop on the performance of your website.
What is Metadata in SEO Anyway?
Metadata is short data that represents other data. In the website, metadata is the series of data in the HTML document containing information of what your web page has.
Several elements work as metadata, and each one of them serves different functions. Yet in general, the goal is to clarify website information to search engines to improve the page's crawlability and indexing.
Metadata may seem small and invisible. But if correctly done, it can significantly impact the performance of the page on search engines. This micro-communication tool is necessary to pay attention to if you want your website to generate more traffic and leads.
On an international level, there will be significantly more web pages you have to compete with. Without any metadata, it will be difficult for search engine crawlers to recognize your pages and rank them up. Even with metadata, you need to write each element strategically to make sure everything works optimally.
How Each Element Affect SEO
To get the best of your SEO without wasting time and money on it, you first need to know the elements of metadata and how each of them contributes to the web's performance in generating traffic. Here they are:
The meta title is a part of an HTML located on the head section that defines the title of the web page. It can contain no more than 55-64 characters, yet it is the most vital part of metadata you should be paying attention to the most. Of all the elements on a webpage, the meta title is the second most crucial after the content itself.
Here is the format of a meta title:
<title>How to Roast A Banana</title>
Search engines rely on meta titles to identify what the page is about. They will show your page on SERP (Search engine result page) if your meta title has high relevance to the keyword searched by the internet users.
Meta title will be a part of the address link of the page. It is also the headline that will appear clickable on the SERP. People will see this part for sure. Thus, it needs to be easy to read and representative to attract people to click it.
A meta description is a short paragraph that explains a brief of the page content, to inform internet users before they click to visit the page. On SERP, the meta description will appear on your page's snippet, right below the page title. This short paragraph is what people will read to guess if your page is worth visiting.
The length should be no more than 160 characters. One time in December 2017, Google allowed it to be up to 300 characters. But eventually, the rule changed back to 160. On mobile versions, the limit is down to 130 characters. Any meta description longer than that will get automatically truncated.
Here is the format of a meta description:
<meta name="description" content="If you love banana here is the recipe you must give a try.">
Search engines do not take meta descriptions to determine its rank on the result pages. But, it doesn't mean that this element is unnecessary for SEO. Instead, it is one of the most important keys to determine whether you will generate traffic or not.
Alt-text is the short text that describes an image uploaded to a page. It serves a similar function as the meta title. But instead of the pages, this element will represent an image featured on that particular page.
Here is the format of an alt text:
<img src=”http://lovebanana.com/picture.jpg” alt=”roasted banana with cheese” />
Incorporating alt text tags on every image is necessary because search engine algorithms are unable to read images. It can only recognize an image if there is an alt text embedded in it. The character limit for an alt text tag is 50-55, which is equal to around 16 words.
Images that have alt text have strong chances to appear on the image SERP, just like how a meta title does to a web page on SERP. There are many times when a page appears on the general SERP but not on the image SERP. The reason is most likely because the page has an effective meta title but not alt text.
Robots meta tag is a series of code that tells search engines how to crawl and index your website. The tags might not have a direct correlation to the ranking system, but it does affect how search engines view your website.
There are many types of parameters to use in this file. Each one of them serves a specific function that affects how your website performs on search engines. Here they are:
The code tells search engine crawler to follow all the links contained on the page
The code tells search engine crawler to index all the links contained on the page
The code tells search engine crawlers to NOT follow any links contained on the page
The code tells search engine crawler to NOT index any links contained in the page
Here is the format of a robots meta tag:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”> - Means not to index or not to follow this web page.
<meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow”> - Means index and follow this web page.
Robot text is different from robots meta tag. It only provides suggestions on how to crawl and index. Hence, crawlers don't have to follow it. Although they serve similar functions, robots meta tag provides more firm instructions to site crawlers than robot txt. Even so, there is no point in utilizing both of them because such action will reduce its effectiveness instead.
Duplicate content may create confusion for search engines on how to index the pages. The problems are either which page to index or how to rank them for relevant queries on SERP. Also, search engines might split the link equity between similar pages instead of giving it all to each page, causing them to have bad rankings instead.
To avoid such issues, you need to use canonical tags if you have multiple pages with similar content on your website. A canonical tag is data to use if the website has two pages with similar content.
Here is the format of an canonical tag:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://lovebanana.com/" />
A canonical tag will help search engines to distinguish the differences between two or more pages. The tag will inform search engines when to prioritize page A and when to prioritize page B. This strategy is effective to prevent the split of link equity. Hence, your website is safe from the risk of getting ranked down.
Header tags are the HTML codes used to identify headings and subheadings of content. The tags can range from H1 to H6, but you don't have to utilize them all in your pages. Most of the time, it is just the H1 and sometimes H2 that matters the most.
Here is the format of a header tag:
<h1> A Complete Guideline for Roasting A Banana </h1>
<p>Paragraph of content</p>
<p>another paragraph of content</p>
<h2>Which Banana is Best to Roast</h2>
<p>Paragraph of content</p>
<h3>Choices of Toppings for Your Roasted Banana</h3>
Using header tags allows crawlers to understand your pages more easily. Furthermore, it makes the content look neat and enjoyable to read. People will also benefit from the heading tags because they will know what the content will talk about. Hence, besides improving your website's ranks, heading tags will also improve user experience.
7. Responsive Design Meta Tag
The dimension and layout of a web page can change depending on the device you use for browsing. Due to different screen ratios between desktops, tablets, and mobiles, each web page needs to have multiple viewports. The term "viewport" itself refers to the area of a web page that is visible to visitors.
Also known as Viewport Element, a responsive design meta tag is more about visitor's comfort than the SERP ranking. It instructs web browsers to recognize the type of screen in use and display the right viewport of the page.
Here is the format of a header tag:
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
As visible above, the responsive design meta tag controls the width and scale of the page to match the screen size. Without this tag, a web page will display the same screen layout on any device, usually the desktop design.
8. Social Media Meta Tags
The purpose of social media meta tags is to integrate your page URLs with your social media accounts. It may not directly impact SEO. Even so, the tag is crucial to improve your web's social signals, which is also influential for SEO.
There are two kinds of social media meta tags; Open Graph and Twitter. The Open Graph one works for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. And just like its name suggests, the Twitter tag works for Twitter. The difference between those two is pretty thin. You just need to add some specific meta tags on the Open Graph card to make it work for Twitter.
Here is the format of an Open Graph Tag:
<meta property="og:type" content="article" />
<meta property="og:title" content="TITLE OF YOUR POST OR PAGE" />
<meta property="og:description" content="DESCRIPTION OF PAGE CONTENT" />
<meta property="og:image" content="LINK TO THE IMAGE FILE" />
<meta property="og:url" content="PERMALINK" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="SITE NAME" />
Here is the format of a Twitter Tag:
<meta name="twitter:title" content="TITLE OF POST OR PAGE">
<meta name="twitter:description" content="DESCRIPTION OF PAGE CONTENT">
<meta name="twitter:image" content="LINK TO IMAGE">
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@USERNAME">
<meta name="twitter:creator" content="@USERNAME">
Useless Metadata to Ignore
Not all metadata is useful. Some don't make an impact in any way. You will just waste your time and energy to create such tags. Here are some of them:
Keyword tags contain a series of keywords you feature on the page. This type of code is useless because search engines have stopped using them for ranking websites. Stuffing too many irrelevant keywords will detect your websites as spam. So instead of getting ranked up, your website might get penalties.
Revisit after tag specifically instructs search engine crawlers to come back for recrawling after a period you set. This tag is useless because search engines will not follow the command anyway. Each search engine has its algorithm on when to revisit a page.
Writing a specific metadata tag for site verification is not the most efficient way to get your website verified by the search engine. It is better to submit your website directly to each search engine's webmaster.
There is no use wasting your time writing for a copyright tag. It will be much more efficient to just put it in the footer of your website, just like any other website does.
Having effective metadata is another key trick for an optimal SEO. If your goal is set for international SEO, you should be paying even more attention to these little text boxes. When implementing metadata, make sure to evaluate your website's performance both before and after the process so you can see how much it affects your website. The result will amaze you!