I’m in a metadata mood this week and here’s another important reason why every family historian/geneablogger needs to make metadata a part of their research world. Metadata can be included in your blog in several ways. Why do you want to do this? The metadata keywords you include in your blog are the digital equivalent to billboards on the highway telling you where to find tourist attractions (See Rock City comes to mind), food, gas stations and other things the traveler wants. With metadata, your keywords are billboards for search engines – directing them to your blog and even to specific posts.
How does this all work? It’s really not that difficult.
Every blog platform has some kind of metadata function. In WordPress, it’s Tags. In Blogger, it’s Labels. Using these functions, you enter keywords that describe the contents of your post. What do you put in there? Think of the search criteria you would use to find an article similar to the one you’ve just written. That’s what you need to include as tags/labels. Surnames, locations (country, state, county, etc.), associated events (WWII, Chicago fire, etc.) and even topics (recipes, records, journals, etc.) all become great tags. You’re not limited either. Add as many tags as you want.
One important concern is consistency. To a search engine, African American and African-American are two different things. You should be consistent throughout your blog. That being said, in situations like this example, where your potential research cousins could be using either version as a search criteria, you may want to include both.
In addition to the metadata included with each post, you can take advantage of your blog’s settings to include a description of the blog itself. Blogger has the Description field giving you 500 characters to describe your blog. WordPress uses the Tagline field – which is unfortunately quite limited. Either way, you want to be sure to include “genealogy” in your description. Why? Because that’s one of the most frequently-entered keywords used to find anything about family history. Sometimes the description/tagline is visible on the blog site, but often it isn’t. Don’t worry, it’s there. And, it’s got flashing lights to attract any search engine that’s passing your way.
I also recommend using the About page to provide detailed information on families and places you’re researching. This is more for the humans who make it to your site than the search engines.
The few seconds it takes to add tags to a blog post will do wonders to help others find your site. One of the reasons geneablogging is so popular is because it is an amazing “cousin magnet”. This is one simple way to make it even better.