March 8, 2024

What Is Metadata In Layman’s Terms?

You may have heard a lot about how metadata is important for your site’s organic performance. Understanding metadata can be difficult if you have limited knowledge of website setup and SEO concepts. But don’t fret – our experts at Wildcat Digital are here to help you understand what exactly metadata is and how it impacts your website’s performance in search results. So, what is metadata in layman’s terms?

Metadata is the data that explains other pieces of information on your page and gives context to it. In SEO, this includes title tags, meta descriptions, meta robots tags, and structured data among others. It helps search engines understand the content and context of the page, allowing it to be indexed and appear in search results. 

Read on to learn more about metadata and its importance for SEO with Wildcat Digital. 

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What is Metadata and Why is it Important?

The prefix meta- means ‘self-referential’. Metadata refers to a series of HTML tag attributes that provide relevant information about key pieces of data on your pages, like what they are, their content, and how they should be accessed and displayed. 

Metadata is important because it plays a crucial role in how the content of your page is read and understood by search engines, and how your website appears in search results, or whether it appears at all. 

Metadata vs. Meta Tags

It is important to note that, even though they are sometimes used interchangeably in SEO resources, metadata and meta tags are different to each other. 

Metadata is a structured reference system that helps sort and identify key attributes of the data on your page. For SEO purposes, metadata includes structured data, social metadata, and descriptors like alt text. 

Meta tags, on the other hand, refer to specific HTML snippets that provide additional context about the content on the page, including meta descriptions, meta robots tags, and meta viewport tags, among others. They are added to the <head> section of your pages. 

Are Meta Tags and Metadata Still Used For SEO?

Yes, meta tags and metadata are still used and important for SEO. As we mentioned above, metadata plays a crucial role in helping search engines understand the content of your pages and serve your website in search results for relevant user queries. But their use has changed throughout time, and some types of meta tags are now more relevant than others. Let’s look at the most important meta tags and types of metadata for SEO. 

Meta Description

The meta description is used to summarise the contents of the page. The description may be used as a snippet of your page in search results and therefore seen by users. 

SEO relevance

A well-written and descriptive meta description is more likely to be used by search engines as your page snippet. This means that you will have some control over your appearance in search results. If a meta description is not set, snippets may automatically be created from page content. 

Your meta description is a user’s first overview of what your page may offer them. High-quality descriptions can help you bring more traffic and target users to your site. 

HTML meta description in source code

Meta description used by Google as a snippet for our page in search results

Best Practice

Meta Title

Meta titles, or title tags, are not meta tags but do qualify as a type of metadata. The title of your page serves as a descriptor of what your page is about, and it is the title link that most search engines will use in search results. 

SEO Relevance 

When titles are well-optimised, they are more likely to be used as the title link of your page in search results. This is important, as the title of your page is often the first thing users will read in search results and a deciding factor in whether or not they will visit your page. Therefore, the title should directly relate to the user’s query, and contain relevant keywords where appropriate. 

Google often rewrites title tags, and even uses different title tags for the same page, depending on the user’s query. A 2023 study found that Google rewrote 61% of title tags in 2022. Following best practices when writing your title tags, however, will likely reduce the rate at which your title tags are modified. 

Meta description used by Google as a snippet for our page in search results

Best Practice

For more about title tags and best practices, read our dedicated blog

Meta Robots

The HTML meta robots tags give crawlers directives on whether they should index and follow your pages. 

SEO Relevance

The meta robots tags determine whether you want your page to be indexed, and whether they should follow links when analysing your pages. This will determine whether your pages appear in search results, and how your website is crawled.

This meta tag is contained in the <head> section of your pages. Crawlers will index and follow links by default unless NoIndex and NoFollow directives are set in the robots meta tag.

Best Practice

Wrongly implementing these attributes can be critical for the organic performance of your website. Checking the use of NoIndex and NoFollow links is an essential part of our technical SEO audits. If you are unsure of whether meta robots tags are affecting your performance in search, get in touch with our SEO team for a consultation.

Viewport Meta Tag

Viewport meta tags are used to adjust the visible area of your pages on mobile devices, so users don’t need to scroll horizontally in order to find the whole content.  

SEO Relevance

Making your pages responsive and usable on mobile is essential for your SEO performance. Google has emphasised the importance of mobile usability as a ranking factor for nearly a decade. And, in 2023 they announced that the switch to mobile-first indexing was complete, so mobile versions of the site are now prioritised when crawling and indexing across the web. 

According to Google’s own guidance, the presence of this tag indicates that the page is mobile-friendly. 

Best Practice


Schema, or structured data, is a standardised data model that allows us to classify the content on the page, making it easier for search engines like Google to understand the page content and enable rich results.

SEO Relevance

The schema vocabulary allows us to explicitly tell search engines what the content on the page is, by taking a string of text or information on the page and categorising it as an instance of a particular Schema type. Schema provides context and removes ambiguity around the purpose and content of your website, meaning search engines will be better prepared to serve your pages for the right queries. 

By including the implementation of structured data in your SEO strategy, you make your website eligible for gaining rich results – enhanced search results with extra features. This will not only enhance your organic presence but likely also improve your click-through rate. Read more about reach results and how to obtain them in our dedicated blog. 

Best Practice

Metadata And SEO With Wildcat Digital 

If you want to know more about metadata and how it can help with your organic rankings, contact our experts. With every SEO campaign, we review your metadata and meta tags to identify issues and areas of improvement, setting you up for success. 

Contact us today for a free initial consultation to see how we can help your business punch above its weight online.

Post by

Miruna Hadu

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