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What is metadata and how is it useful?

02 Feb 2023. 12:40
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Why does Google rank one page ahead of the others? Why do I get ads related to what I'm looking for? How can it be that my social networks almost always show me the content I like? The answer to all these questions is the same: metadata. Here we tell you what they are and how you can get the most out of them.

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Everything we do and see when we surf the Internet is made up of metadata. This means that the metadata has been like a small description of the trail we leave on the web and all the information we can find on it. But what is it really for?

On the contrary, they are also key in all the searches we do on the Internet and in the digital world in which we live. Metadata is what allows, for example, that a search engine analyses all the information and show us the best results. In other words, it collects 'beyond' (from the Greek meta) of the data.

For this reason, we believe it is important to know what exactly metadata is and how useful it is. Let's get to it!


What is metadata?

As the name suggests, metadata is 'the data that describes other data'. They express the content of a page, the description of users and, partially or completely, an object, text, image or any general set of data.

Being a key part of the digital world, they analyse the invisible elements of a web page so that search engines can clarify all the information. That is, thanks to metadata, Google can analyse a site on the web to see what content it has, as well as its importance.


What is metadata used for?

The first function of metadata is to facilitate searching. There is a lot of information on the Internet, and you need an organization. But for that, there must first be an analysis. Metadata is the electronic resource that stores and makes sense of all the information to find something specific without wasting time – and nerves.

We have already mentioned the second use of metadata: organization. With optimal data governance it will be much easier for us to find everything we need efficiently and quickly every time we surf the Internet.

Another of its functions is the management of information between users and issuers of information. Protecting communication between the two will play a key role in the experience of those searching the Internet. As well as the one who needs to answer the questions of 'what', 'when', 'how', 'who' and 'where'.

And finally, security. Metadata will help us to easily recover the data described in them, but also to protect the most sensitive information by properly managing them.


What types of metadata are there?

We can differentiate between different types of metadata according to the following classification:


  1. According to its function: logical, symbolic or subsymbolic.
  • Logical: characterized by understanding, they explain how symbolic data can be used to make deductions of logical results.
  • Symbolic: they detail subsymbolic data and add meaning.
  • Subsymbolic: They do not contain any information about their meaning.


  1. According to its variability: immutable or mutable.
  • Immutable: these are the data that do not change regardless of which part of the resource can be viewed.
  • Mutable: it is the data that differs from others and even differs between its parts.


  1. According to their content: they are usually the most common. They occur when metadata is broken down by its content, so it gives the option to differentiate between metadata that details the resource and metadata that describes the content.


Benefits of the correct use of metadata

If we are careful and manage metadata correctly, we can find many advantages that could, for example, increase the longevity of data and prevent its degradation. Thanks to that, we will be able to reuse and even exchange data for other purposes that we propose in the long term.

By improving the quality of our data, we can also reduce incidents, thus generating reliability that will allow us to deliver much more secure data that we have previously been able to interpret, analyse and process much more easily.

Now that you've figured out what metadata is and how it can help you improve your online experience, you'll be able to get the most out of it.

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