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:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Keywords
  • Format
  • Date
  • Publisher
  • Language

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

How to Implement

Tag your most important content using Dublin Core and Schema.org vocabularies, which will make it easier for people and machines to find your content on the Web.

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. 


These examples illustrate how agencies are creating structured content by tagging with metadata and microdata.


Content Lead: Rachel Flagg
Page Reviewed/Updated: May 22, 2013

You are now leaving the HowTo.gov website.

CancelView Link