How Freelancers Can Use Metadata for Their Work and Websites

While some might argue that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has had a bit of a contentious relationship with those ever-changing algorithms, metadata itself seems to have escaped unscathed. Indeed, without metadata, files/websites/Internet properties in general would be, in a word, incomplete. If most of your freelancing work is Internet-based, then having a working knowledge of metadata will make your content all the more valuable to search engines.

The Meaning of Metadata

If the term itself seems like a potentially daunting concept, don’t worry, because it’s surprisingly straightforward. Metadata is, in the most streamlined sense, descriptive data.

  • Some examples:
  • If I’m getting ready to upload a photo file to my blog, perhaps I want to review its information first. So, if I right-click on said photo and select Properties, I’ll see its metadata, meaning its name, file type, size, etc.
    • You can find more detailed metadata on various photography websites – camera make/model, aperture, geolocation etc.
  • Books, whether hardcopy or online, have a traditional set of metadata including, of course, the title, author, publisher, description, length, and any additional copyright details, if applicable.
  • Email, something that most of us read, write, and send each day, is rich with metadata. There’s the usual to and from, along with a subject and the date/time it was sent, yet there’s also metadata that’s not immediately visible, like Internet Providers and servers.

Metadata Motivations

So, now that we’ve established what metadata is, how do we apply it successfully to our freelancing? It’s all in how we organize our descriptions of files and pages…

  • If you’re applying to jobs and have to upload corresponding documents, make sure you’ve properly titled it – don’t just put something basic like the obvious “Resumé” or “Cover Letter.” If a recruiter is looking through applications and sees that, it could be anyone’s! Instead, make sure you have your name front and center on all of your documents (which should be converted to PDFs, by the way, for the sake of security).
    • So, it’d be something like: Jane_Austen_Resume or JaneAustenResume or Jane Austen Resume.
  • Ever noticed how some job applications specify what the email subject should be when sending in the requisite files? Yes, it could be to make sure that you’re paying attention, and it could also be that software is scanning and screening responses for the correct applicants – another example, quite literally, of metadata at work!
  • Then, there are those website/blog pages and files, which is where metadata is most important. When you’re in the website building phase, you know that section where you can input your tagline? Yep, that’s metadata! When you upload images, make sure they have titles that correspond with whatever content is around them; search engines will index them more efficiently.

Remember: it’s the little metadata details that can make big differences!

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