Metadata, Properties and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is Metadata?

Simply put, metadata is data about data. With Search engines, such as Google, do not "read" your content (data.) They index by seeking out information from defined metadata fields. To increase the chances of your content being located in response to a search engine request, add appropriate metadata, such as a search engine title, description, keywords, copyright and event dates. Use tagging (interest categories) to mark items intended for dynamic display.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines.  Typically, the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine.

SEO fields in Drupal are below the WYSIWYG editor and are now required on most ALA content types. It is the job of a Content Manager to populate these fields so that our content has maximum web presence. Along with improving our ranking within Search Engine results, SEO fields are also used within the overall design of our website.  It is a best practice to always add values to these fields for every page you either edit or create because that data will be collected by search engines spiders quicker than those same spiders can index your actual page content.

These three SEO fields are stored in a page's metadata and are called:

  • SEO Description:  A summary of what is being discussed on the page. This is the description that users see in their hit lists when your page comes up in search results.
  • SEO Keywords: Key words about the primary ideas expressed on the page.
  • SEO Title:  This is the most important of all the SEO fields, not only does it aid in search engine optimization but it is used throughout the site design of Read below

Where do I add Metadata and SEO?

Metadata fields are associated with a variety of content types in Drupal.  Simply scroll down while you are editing a content type and the fields will be available:

What is the difference between the Author and the Editor?


Generally, the Author, in this field, refers to the ALA Unit that owns the right to publish the content. To look up the official name of a corporate author, visit the unit landing page from under Offices, Divisions or Round Tables. The personal name of an author should be used when that is the agreement you have with your bloggers or other content authors.


The Editor would be the individual (ALA Staff member) responsible for updating the content.  This can be confusing as Drupal has a separate field under Authoring Information which tracks the user that is updating or adding the content which also displays as the Author of content, but the latter is an internal reference populated by Drupal for administrative functions.

What do I add to the SEO Title?

Start with the webpage Title and add more clarity by adding synonyms to further describe the direct objects in the title, for example Recipes for Teenagers as a Title, could become more specific by enhancing it to: Suggested Recipes and Food Favorites for Teens, Young Adults, Pre-Teen or Youth.  It should add a bit more clarity than the general Title of the web page, where appropriate.

What goes into the SEO Description?

Start first with a summary statement and then use the subheadings in the content.  The description should be a high-level overview of what the user might expect to find in the content.  If the page is structured logically, you should be able to craft a good SEO description based on a summary of each of the subheads using key phrases found in the content.  You may have to reword your findings so it flows into a logical series of statements that give a clear understanding of what the content is about, but use the text in the content as your inspiration.

What do I use for SEO Keywords?

Start by asking yourself, "What are the terms that a person searching for this content might use to find it?"  The best keywords might be words used in your headings, subheadings and their synonyms. Once you have exhausted the possibilities answering what terms a person may look for, look for Proper Names of people, places, institutions that are mentioned with significance in the content.  Save what you come up with then re-read the content to see if any other search terms become apparent.