Tag Content With Standard Metadata
Tagging content with keywords and metadata makes it easier for people to find and share government information. Applying tags to your content aligns with the Digital Government Strategy, which requires agencies to make content more findable, shareable, and publishable in a variety of environments.
What Is Metadata?
Metadata is essentially “data about data,” and consists of machine-readable descriptions that tell other computers important facts about your digital content. Content that has been tagged with metadata helps the public more easily find, share, use and re-use government information and services.
When tagging content, you should generally use established industry-standard vocabularies, which define common elements and enable aggregation of common pieces of information from several different sources. Common metadata elements include:
One of the most common metadata vocabularies is Dublin Core. See the Dublin Core User Guide for an explanation of how to add Dublin Core metadata to your content.
To enable Web crawlers and search engines to understand meaning and relationships in your content, and use that understanding to improve search results and search engine optimization (SEO), you should also employ the Schema.org vocabulary to provide additional descriptions for certain types of content, such as events.
You can use Dublin Core tags to describe "things", and Schema.org tags to describe relationships between those things. Both are important to improve search results and make your information easier to find and re-use.
Why It’s Important
Metadata provides a standardized system to label and classify content. It also:
- Enables content aggregation, re-use, and syndication via Really Simple Syndication (RSS), Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and other technologies
- Supports structured, modular content creation
- Improves search relevancy and results
- Provides better descriptions in search results, and a richer browsing experience to readers
- Supports collaboration at the agency- or government-wide level, providing a more complete view of available information on a specific topic
- Provides an audit trail, with information about who created the information, and when
- Helps identify redundant, duplicative, and possibly obsolete content
Specific Policy, Legal or Other Requirements
- Guidance is provided in OMB Memorandum M-13-13: Open Data Policy—Managing Information as an Asset (PDF, 6 MB, 12 pages, May 2013), in accordance with the May 9, 2013 Executive Order—Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information
- Digital Government Strategy—requirements around Open Content (May 2012)
- Executive Order 13571—Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service—use innovative technologies to improve service delivery (April 2011)
- OMB M-10-06, Open Government Directive (December 2009)
- OMB Policies for Federal Public Websites—Section 5A require agencies to assist the public in locating government information
- OMB requirements for organizing and categorizing information (PDF, 64 KB, 6 pages, December 2005)
How to Implement
If You Have a Content Management System
You should to enter the tags directly into your CMS. You may need to work with your CIO staff or developer to configure your CMS to collect metadata.
If You Don't Have a Content Management System
You'll need to add these tags manually as HTML code. Refer to the links below for guidance and syntax on manually tagging your content.
- Expressing Dublin Core metadata—explains how to tag your content using Dublin Core structure and syntax
- See these generic plain language metadata examples
- How to mark up your content using Schema.org vocabularies—explains how to tag your content so it's easier to find and provides richer search results
These examples illustrate how agencies are creating structured content by tagging with metadata and microdata.
- Geospatial Metadata — Federal Geographic Data Committee
- Metadata management — US Geological Survey
- Content and Data Standards including XML markup and metadata descriptions—Library of Congress
- EPA Metadata Editor tool to create content that meets EPA and Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) metadata requirements—Environmental Protection Agency
- ED Web Metadata Reference controlled vocabulary term hierarchy and use—Department of Education
- LandView 6 Metadata technical documentation on Census data quality—US Census Bureau
- OpenEI:Projects/Tools Metadata properties and values—Open Energy Information
- Project Open Data is an OMB and OSTP resource; an online repository of tools, best practices, and schema to help agencies adopt the framework presented in the Open Data Policy OMB Memorandum M-13-13: Open Data Policy—Managing Information as an Asset (PDF, 6 MB, 12 pages, May 2013)
- Geospatial Metadata Tools — Federal Geographic Data Committee
- Vocab.data.gov—data reference model and vocabularies for government data
- W3C HTML Data Guide—overview of best practices for publishing HTML
- Select the right keywords—article on the importance of keywords to improved search ranking
- W3C HTML Working Group—learn about the latest work in HTML standards
- Semantic Web—W3C article about the "Web of data"
- Linked Data in HTML—overview of how search engines and Web services use HTML markup to make information easier to find
- Open Metadata Registry—RDF-based Simple Knowledge Organization System to register metadata
- Classification scheme for government documents—Federal Depository Library Program
- Understanding Metadata—metadata basics (PDF, 159 KB, 20 pages, June 2004)
- Internet Media Types—Wikipedia article on identifying file formats