Meta data is a term used to refer to data or information within a larger body of content or information. It is often used in the context of computer or internet-based applications, such as websites, but is also applicable to other forms of content and data. The purpose of meta data is to provide a summary of the content and to help identify it for its purpose.
Put simply, meta data consists of a set of tags, codes, or information about the content, which can be used to help to find related content or data, to categorise content, or to automate processes. Generally, meta data is added to the background content and is used by search engines to better categorise the content, so that it is easier to locate and index. This also allows for easier filtering, sorting and more efficient searching capabilities.
Meta data can be used to store essential content, such as the author, date, contact information, copyright and license information, language, and so on. However, it can also be used to store additional information, such as keywords, themes, abstracts, summaries, and any additional relevant information. Meta data can even include descriptive fields to help categorise content and aid search engines.
When setting up or tagging meta data, there are a few best practices that should be followed to ensure the most effective tagging.
Firstly, the information should be kept to a minimum. Too much or irrelevant meta data dilutes the mean of the primary data, and may have a detrimental impact on the search engine results. Only include relevant and succinct information, and if more information is required, it can be provided on the page where the content is located.
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Secondly, meta data should be used consistently. For example, if tags are used, the same tags should be applied across multiple sources of content, even if it appears in different formats. Similarly, tags should be used in a universally consistent manner, such as using lowercase alphabetic characters and relevant hyphens for all tags.
Thirdly, meta data should be focused on the goals. Ultimately, meta data should help to achieve the data's primary objective, whether it is to search, to categorise, to relate to, or to otherwise present the data in a clear manner. As such, the meta data should be purposeful, relevant and accurate.
Finally, meta data should be coordinated between all sources. Wherever possible, meta data should be uniform and accurate across the board.
By following these general guidelines, content or data can be effectively tagged to ensure the most effective results. As meta data can have a big impact on the visibility of data, it should be given some prior consideration before being used. With the right approach, meta data can become a powerful tool for ensuring easier indexing and sorting of data, and ultimately provide better search engine visibility.