Metadata is one of the most misunderstood aspects of content management and website design. Editors and writers tend to look at it as a technical issue. Technical people look for a software solution.

In fact, both are wrong. Metadata is a fundamental skill that Web writers and editors must acquire.

Metadata is the who, what, where, when and how of your content. It is that 30-second elevator description.

Metadata may include: heading/title, summary/description, author name, date of publication, geographic classification, subject classification, keywords.

Metadata gives your content context. Content that does not have effective metadata is not web content. It is sloppy, next-to-useless print content that has been unprofessionally published on the Web.

If you don't have time to publish professional metadata for your content, you shouldn't be allowed to publish anything on a website.

Many writers and editors are technophobes. The story goes that Woody Allen invites a friend around for dinner every time his typewriter ribbon needs replacing. I know many highly intelligent writers who go blank and freeze up whenever faced with any sort of technical problem.

Writers have a real love-hate relationship with computers; they love them when they work, they hate them when they don't.

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image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern ( is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.