Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Your Website Needs Metadata. Now

1. The New York Times

Just adding structured data immediately increased traffic to our recipes from search engines by 52%.

2. The Financial Times

Everyone forgets about metadata. They think they can just make stuff and then forget about how it is organized in terms of how you describe your content. But all your assets are useless to you unless you have metadata—your archive is full of stuff that is of no value because you can’t find it and don’t know what it’s about.

3. Circa

In a typical content management system (CMS) you’ll find a headline field, a main text field, information about the article’s creator, a date of its creation and maybe a field for some metatags—usually basic nouns—included as an afterthought, often for SEO ...

But those basic fields in the CMS fail to capture a lot of the value of information invested in the reporting process. If you asked a reporter about the information in an article you’d get specifics: it contains a quote from the mayor, some statistics about government spending, the announcement of a new zoning permit, a description of a local event, and so on. But that information is adrift inside the main unit of the article—without structure it’s lost, except for the ability to search for a string of words in Google.

At Circa we do things differently. The process of creating a story requires the writer to tag information in a structured way. If we insert a quote, we have two extra fields for the name of the person quoted and an alias—their working title. As a result, I can ask our chief technology officer to search our database for all the quotes we have from, say, Eric Holder. I can also ask to have that search refined by date(s) or topics: “Give me all the Eric Holder quotes from the last six months that are associated with the IRS. Also, I’d like all the aliases we’ve used for him.”

Addendum (10/5/2015): If ever a medium needed metadata, it’s streaming video. Asks the New York Times: “Why can’t you search for, say, movies from the 1970s that involve at least three car chases and six explosions? Or click on Carrie Bradshaw’s dress in any given Sex and the City scene and learn who designed it?”