What You Need To Know About Metadata

One of the most important, yet undervalued, aspects of marketing ebooks is called METADATA. Because metadata is information that isn't seen by a reader, it's often overlooked by authors and publishers. But its importance in helping readers find books in which they're interested can't be overstated.

The concept of metadata, like so much that has to do with ebooks, comes from HTML, the code language of web pages. Included in the information are keywords, the subject of which are contained in the web page. A search engine, such as Google or Yahoo, scans the internet for keywords which match the terms in a search that someone is making.

For example, a page on fire safety might contain in its metadata portion (that viewers of the page won't see) terms such as “fire safety,” “smoke alarms,” “escape plans,” and so on. If someone goes to Google and searches for “smoke alarms,” this page may show up in the search results.

There is also a place for a description in a web page's metadata. In this example, it might be “An overview of what every homeowners can do to protect against the dangers of fire.” If the URL address of this web page comes up in search results, this short description will appear to help a searcher determine if this is relevant.

The top image shows the metadata for this web page, with the keywords highlighted in yellow and a page description highlighted in orange.

Metadata in an ebook works essentially the same way. You can see an example of ebook metadata in the lower image. Like in a web page, this information is hidden to the reader.

Instead of keywords, the comparable metadata is called subject, and multiple subjects are listed on separate lines (highlighted in yellow). In addition to an area for a brief description (highlighted in orange), there are places for book title, author, publisher and more.

As ebooks become more and more widespread, it will be come increasingly important for each book to have complete and correct metadata. Readers and book distributors will rely on searches for metadata to lead them to the books they want.

We always request our clients to supply us with a brief description and 5-7 subject keywords for metadata for each book.