What Does Metadata Mean?

Metadata is data about data. In other words, it is data that is used to describe another item’s content.


The term metadata is often used in the context of Web pages, where it describes page content for a search engine.

Techopedia Explains Metadata

Metadata is an important tool for improving a Web page’s search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines generally use metadata, along with a combination of other factors, to determine what is on a Web page and how relevant that content is to a given search. This data is included in the the meta tags found in a Web page’s HTML or XHTML.

Common metadata used by most search engines includes:

  • Description: This meta element describes the type of content found on a Web page. For example, the description for this page tells this search engine that the page contains a definition of the term metadata.
  • Title: This provides a title for the content on the page, which is shown by search engines in results. For this page, it is: What is Metadata? – Definition from
  • Keywords: This provides the search engine with additional keywords that are related to the content that’s on the page. Whether search engines still use this data is a matter of debate.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…