What is metadata anyway?

There are three main pillars to metadata: title, description, and alt text. They’re the three that impact SEO most and those that a website designer, web master, or content writer can handle and update regularly.


This is the main title copy that’s displayed in search and browser results. As the most impactful of the three for SEO purposes, it’s one of the algorithmic factors for search engines.


While not an algorithmic factor for Google, meta-descriptions are important as they’re the principal way to describe a page and entice users to click through. Think of it as a sales pitch that invites users to learn more about your service or product or click to read a piece of content.


Alt-text is a mix of metadata that isn’t visible on the page but is important both for image SEO and accessibility. Think of it as an invisible caption that describes your image for those who can’t see it. It also plays a factor in machine-learning, so models can better understand what an image is about and better describe it for those that are visually impaired.

Meta-titles and meta-descriptions in action.

How to write metadata

Approach each differently

Whether you’re writing meta-titles, meta-descriptions, or alt-text, it’s important to approach each independently. Brandon Gilmore, Motum B2B’s SEO Manager, advises including keywords at the front of a meta-title and using it to accurately describe what the page is about.

With descriptions, he says search engines will bold keywords in the description that match a user’s search, so they stand out within the SERP. Alt-text, on the other hand, should prioritize being accurate and descriptive over making a sales pitch.

To ensure your message isn’t cut off, try to stay within the recommended character limits. That’s a guideline of 70 characters for meta-titles, 155 for meta-descriptions on desktop computers, and 120 for meta-descriptions on mobile devices.

There is no character limit for alt text, but we generally write it as a single descriptive sentence. Note that these are guidelines, and Google is constantly testing different lengths based on user searches and devices.

Keywords matter

The key to good metadata is being as honest and clear as possible. Think about the primary topic a page is talking about and choose keywords to reflect that.

“Try and have variety – one or two keywords within the description if you have space,” Gilmore advises. “The most important thing is to sound natural and talk to the topic. The metadata shouldn’t be misleading.”

To that end, avoid over-stuffing your metadata with keywords. It should be descriptive and readable so users (and machines) can easily understand what content they can expect to see on your webpage.

Here's what we would write as alt-text for this: 'A Golden Retriever standing on the beach wearing a baseball cap.'

Refine and refine again

As with SEO, writing metadata should be something that’s always evolving, that you’re never truly done with. You should be continuously experimenting and updating metadata through the life of your content with an overall goal to improve your clickthrough rates and impressions.

Get used to running monthly or quarterly reports, taking benchmarks of the data before and after, and making changes reactively.

Think about tools that can help you experiment

If you’re struggling to write metadata, Gilmore suggests looking to AI to kickstart the process and experimenting by feeding the tools information about your page so it can write metadata.

As with all AI, it’s important to give clear prompts and check (and double check) everything that’s produced makes sense and is factually sound.

Get familiar with your search console

In measuring the performance and impact of your metadata, Gilmore describes Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools as “your best friends” that should be referred to regularly.

When it comes to checking your search console, it’s always recommended to check the results page by page as opposed to viewing all of the queries together. This will enable you to see which keywords the page is getting and ensure it aligns with the changes you’ve made.

Don’t know where to start with metadata?

Reach out to our team today to get the conversation started and, in the meantime, check out how your schema can capture more clicks.