Metadata

Metadata is, in the general sense, data about data. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) metadata is information that is not shown directly within a page but is available to search engines. For more information about Search Engine Optimisation, see the SEO Guide on our resources page or Moz’s comprehensive Beginner’s Guide To SEO.

Editing metadata

To edit the metadata for a page, go into edit mode on the page whose metadata you want to edit, and move the mouse over the Metadata button on the toolbar, as shown in figure 1. When the mouse is over the button, a panel appears with a traffic light display showing whether the page title and description are a good length.

Figure 1. the metadata button

Click the button to open the metadata window, as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2. the metadata window

The metadata window lets you change the following metadata:

Page title
The page title, shown in search engine results pages.
Page description
The page description, shown in search engine results pages.
Image
The image shown on social media when the page is shared. For example, Facebook shows the image alongside the title and description, as shown in figure 3. Click Choose image to choose an image, in the same way as when editing image components. Once an image has been chosen, click Change image to change it or Remove image to remove it.
Figure 3. a page shared on Facebook

As you change the title and description their current lengths are displayed below the fields, with a note if they are too short or too long. Click OK to save the changes to the metadata and return to the page. Click Cancel to return to the page without changing the metadata.

Creating good titles and descriptions

The title (often incorrectly called the title tag) is shown on the browser tab containing the page and in the browser title bar when viewing the page, and is the main link in the search result. The meta description (often incorrectly called the description tag) is often used as the longer snippet of text that appears in the search result. An example search result is shown in figure 4, including the title, address, and snippet.

Figure 4. an example search result

The title is the single most important item to optimise in order to improve the relevance of the site to search engines. A search engine will generally regard a page that includes the search terms within its title as more relevant than a page that only includes the search term within the page text. Key elements to include within a title are:

In the example above, the title starts with the brand name, followed by some descriptive terms including possible search terms such as hand-made and furniture, and ending with the location.

Away from the home page the brand can be left until the end of the title — for example, Latest furniture from A N Other. People are more likely to click on a search result when they see relevant words at the start of the title. As the home page will be the highest ranking page on the site for a search for the brand name, it is the only page whose title is worth starting with the brand name.

A title that is too short does not take full advantage of the ability to include search terms within it. A title that is too long is truncated by the search engines, and the additional text past the truncation point does not help ranking. The recommended title length is between 20 and 65 characters.

The description does not affect the ranking of the page. However, it is often shown in search results and hence can act as a pitch to encourage users to click through to the page. It should be a few sentences, around 80 to 160 characters in length (longer descriptions will be truncated), that give potential visitors a compelling reason to believe the page is worth reading. Note that for particular search terms search engines may decide not to use the description and instead use some relevant text from the page as the snippet.