If content is king, then your metadata is the lifeblood that gives it its eminence.
Without its metadata, your content would just be passed over and anonymous.
Yet despite its significance, metadata can easily be an afterthought during the publishing process. But it plays an essential function in your content creation and marketing. It is key both in helping you create content to work within your marketing ecosystem, and in helping your audience find and consume your content.
Let’s take a look at why metadata is so important to your content and your business, and how you can ensure you’re using it most effectively.
What is metadata?
Metadata is information that you attach to content to signify what it's about. It is largely invisible to those consuming your content—this is, it’s behind-the-scenes data hidden in code.
But it’s helpful to those engaging with the back end of content, both the human and the non-human kind—your content-marketing staff and search engine robots. They will be able to instantly get a picture of what the content is about and how it can be used.
There are various types of metadata that apply to different elements and have different functions:
- Title tags are meta tags specifically about a page’s or asset’s title. These are what you see as page links in search-results pages (SERPs).
- Meta descriptions are succinct blocks of text that describe a webpage or an asset. This is the descriptive you see beneath the page titles in SERPs.
- Alt attributes are tags that specify information about an image. They are intended to provide context about a visual asset for visually-impaired users as well as information in case the visual asset is missing.
- Schema markup is specific data syntax that gives search engines more information about what each piece of data means.
Metadata is typically associated with websites, but it’s used in many other places too—it can provide robots and users information about data, documents, images, permissions and classifications, among other things. Metadata can be created and accessed manually or automatically via tools that use AI and machine learning.
Metadata is all about discoverability
The ultimate goal of metadata is to make content discoverable—to allow people to find it by typing in various words and phrases, or to allow software to find it by identifying, classifying and parsing its tags.
This discoverability is essential because the amount of content any given Web user or content creator is dealing with is astronomical. "Best hotel in Vegas" returns over 480 million results. Of course, we need a way to catalog a meaningful and consumable subset of relevant information.
There are two ways that discoverability is essential in both creating and consuming content. First, those creating content can easily assess the assets they have to work with and the previously created content that will surround anything new they make. Second, SEO robots can discover what is what on the Web so we can all find what we’re looking for.
The importance of metadata for internal discoverability
Metadata lets content creators know what is contained in their inventory of content. Like the searchable catalog that lists every book in the library, digital-asset management solutions use metadata to keep all your internal assets organized and help you find the ones you want quickly.
In addition to knowing how to find things, you’ll also find it helpful to know what content is already in your system. You can see where you need a piece of content to fill a gap or where coverage is already complete. And seeing the complete picture of your content inventory allows you to deliver and monetize your content more effectively.
Your business depends on external discoverability
Allowing external audiences to find your content is essential to growing your customer base—and to building your business.
The most commonly known use for metadata is search engine optimization. The tags and other metadata are the essential handles that allow an SEO crawler to grab onto your content and categorize it properly so that those using search engines can find it.
This same search function can allow visitors to your website to find the specific topic or product they’re interested in among all the content on your site.
Tools for leveraging metadata
The already-extensive universe of software designed to assist content creators with applying and using metadata continues to grow all the time. Not only are new products always entering the market, but AI and machine learning are making them more and more powerful.
These tools can automatically suggest tags for content, identify items in photos and recognize faces.
Tools for analyzing text and suggesting tags:
- Open Calais provides tag suggestions for content.
- Amazon Comprehend recommends tags for content.
- MeaningCloud Text Analytics extracts meaning from unstructured content.
- Amazon Textract extracts text from objects like PDFs and makes it into metadata.
- Azure Text Analytics draws insight from text using natural language processing.
Tools for recognizing and tagging images and faces:
- Amazon Rekognition autotags images and video.
- Azure Custom Vision Service builds custom image classifiers.
- Google Cloud Vision API derives insight from images.
- IBM Watson Visual Recognition identifies subjects and objects in images.
- DeepFace provides facial recognition and facial attribute analysis.
For example, an email can be triggered using different subject lines and messages—in many different languages—based on what you know about the individual reader’s demographics, location, interests and more. With Brightspot, you start with each piece of content made from many individual blocks—including its metadata—and add the definition to your respective pictures using different combinations of those blocks.
How Brightspot can help
Brightspot is set up to help content creators apply the right metadata. This ensures that content is discoverable as well as organized, creating a clean inventory of all your assets.
Brightspot’s top-tier content-management system gives marketers easy and immediate access to assets using metadata tags and persistent search functionality. Integrations with a number of tools that can automatically apply metadata to text and images allow users to automatically tag their content and assets, and to maintain an up-to-date index of what content and assets are in the system.