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Content marketing has become a powerful tool for companies of all sizes, circumventing the shortcomings of traditional advertising to engage with audiences hungry for interesting content. Statistics from 2018 reveal 91 percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers are now using content marketing, with 54 percent of the remainder planning to start using it soon. However, generating good content is only half the battle. To make the content work, it’s essential the right people see it. An understanding of content marketing metadata is useful for improving content visibility and usability.

What Is Content Marketing Metadata?

In simple terms, metadata is data about data. It comprises the unseen tags and definitions that organize content, make it more visible in search engines, and help audiences find the things that are relevant to them. The metadata describes what the content is, and what it’s about.

As a simple example, consider a picture of an employee. The picture shows you what that person looks like, but doesn’t give any context, such as when the picture was taken, where it was taken, and what role the employee has within the company. Metadata describes the picture, and also provides the additional, unseen information.

Types of Metadata

Metadata falls into three main categories:

  • Descriptive: This is metadata that describes content, making it easier to discover. Keywords are a common form of descriptive metadata, helping content to appear in search engine results.
  • Structural: This is metadata relating to the structure of content, such as the paragraphs in an article, or the pages in a chapter. Breaking content into component elements makes it easier to directly access relevant content, or to serve specific content to end users.
  • Administrative: Administrative metadata is useful for archiving purposes, such as file type and creation date.

The Importance of Metadata

Content marketing isn’t cheap. It involves hiring talented individuals such as writers, editors, directors, graphic designers, and website designers. Furthermore, a single piece of content isn’t going to change your business overnight. You need a schedule of regular output to stay relevant. Business-to-consumer marketers reported spending 38 percent of their total marketing budget on content marketing in 2018, with 37 percent of marketers expecting to increase that amount within 12 months. With that much money on the line, it’s essential that content marketers see a return on their investment, and metadata helps to make that possible in several ways.

Search Engine Optimization

Adding content marketing metadata improves visibility in search rankings. Title tags, meta descriptions, and keywords make it possible for a search engine to identify types of content as it crawls the site, and then serve it to the right end users. Titles and meta descriptions appear on the search results page, so it’s important to make them clear and engaging so that they encourage the users to click on them.

Structured Content

Metadata is essential for structuring your page content. Consider an ecommerce store that sells kitchen appliances and utensils. The implementation of metadata means that a potential customer has the option to use a search function on the site to find specific products. It also makes it possible to group similar products together under category names, such as “electrical appliances,” “cutlery,” or “blenders.”

As another example, consider a blog for a DIY website. Grouping articles under categories generated from metadata means it’s possible to serve the end users with specific content based on search parameters or their particular interests, such as providing all of the articles related to choosing hand tools or painting fences.

Dynamic Content

The most important thing is providing users with the most useful and relevant content. The best content in the world isn’t going to achieve a return on investment if nobody sees it. With the right metadata, it’s possible to make your content intelligent, using contextual clues to better serve the needs of the end user. In other words, it’s possible for metadata to define the preferred context for viewing certain content. For example, you could create content that changes based on whether the viewer is using a computer or mobile device, or even based on where the viewer is at the time.

Effectively Using Content Marketing Metadata

Making the best use of content marketing metadata involves more than adding a few title tags and keywords to your articles. As with all aspects of content creation, develop a strategy and adhere to it.

  • Standardize metadata: If you’re grouping your content by categories and tags, define a rigid set of terms that you expect all of your content creators to use. Consolidate variations so there is one standardized form. For example, if you want your reviews to have the “review” tag, ensure you don’t also have a tag for “product review.”
  • Document: A standardized set of metadata rules is no good if you don’t adequately convey them to your staff. Get your strategy down on paper, and distribute it.
  • Train: Follow up on your documentation by ensuring your staff is well versed in your metadata usage strategy.
  • Use the right amount: There’s a fine balance for how much metadata to use. Organizing your articles into hundreds of categories may be more precise, but actually makes it more difficult to browse for subjects within a category, and may lead to fragmentation of data, where you have categories that only contain a single article or picture. Using too much metadata also makes content creation more laborious and increases the risk of mistakes. Conversely, insufficient metadata means you lack the connections and contextual details to provide the best user experience possible.
  • Automate: There are several programs that make it easier to insert metadata into existing content. Search online to find resources that speed up the process and reduce the risks associated with manual inputs.

Takeaway: Documented Data

Content marketing metadata is another valuable tool for marketers to harness, describing content and where it exists within your content system. When used correctly, it has the potential to improve search engine rankings, and ensures the right people see the right content at the right time. By developing a documented metadata strategy, you’re making it easier to create well-structured content that meets the needs of your audience.