This is Moira from the Social Care team at Shopify. Thanks for posting! Essentially, metadata, meta tags & schema all contribute to boosting the SEO of your website in different ways. I'd be more than happy to explain the differences and how they relate to SEO below.
Often referred to as data that describes other data, metadata is structured reference data that helps to sort and identify attributes of the information it describes. Nearly everything technical has it; when you take a picture on your smartphone, it stores the date and time the photo was taken and some kind of generic name. If you have location services installed, it can even add where the picture was taken to its internal clipboard.
The use of metadata on web pages can be very important. The metadata contains descriptions of the page's contents, as well as keywords linked to the content. This metadata is often displayed in search results by search engines, meaning its accuracy and details could influence whether or not a user decides to visit a site. This information is usually expressed in the form of meta tags.
In Shopify, your products, collections, and pages all have meta descriptions that you’re able to customize yourself, in the Edit website SEO section at the bottom of their admin pages:
Meta tags provide information about the webpage in the HTML of the document. This information is called "metadata" and while it is not displayed on the page itself, it can be read by search engines and web crawlers. Search engines such as Google use metadata from meta tags to understand additional information about the webpage. They can use this information for ranking purposes, to display snippets in search results, and sometimes they can ignore meta tags. Example of meta tags include the <title> and <description> elements:
Schema markup is a structured data vocabulary that helps search engines better understand the info on your website in order to serve rich results. Where metadata is data about data, the schema is the map for that data. Take an events page, for example. It would have an event title, a ticket cost, a date, and a time. All that data is on the website, but how would a search engine know that unless you actually told it where to look and for what? Schema lets you assign context to that data. So along with the page that the user sees, you can send a map to the search engine that tells it the page is about an event, when it is, where it is, how much it costs, even the type of event. Is it a fundraiser, or a concert? Who’s organizing this event? Are there any promotional offers?
As an example, this is a Google search where I simply typed “upcoming events” and then chose “This Weekend.” Now I’m getting a list of events in the area with some relevant data:
How did it get there? Most likely those websites are utilizing schema data to map their event information. Google can find it now, understand its context, and present it in a relevant search.
What steps have you taken to improve your search engine ranking so far? SEO is a really great path to take because the upside of getting unpaid (free) traffic is certainly great. It can help keep your advertising costs down and increase your sales. Here is a guide on how to improve the search engine ranking for your store.
If you have any questions please feel free to thread those below.
Moira | Social Care @ Shopify
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