Metadata is displayed in the source code of webpages, between the <head> tags.

Metadata is 'data about data' that is stored with each page on the ANU website. Metadata includes elements such as title, subject, and description. These elements are used by search engines to understand and rank your pages, by end-users to verify and understand your content, and by system administrators to manage the content within your website.

The following metadata elements should be used on all ANU webpages. If you use the standard templates many of these are set for you automatically.

Static elements

Some metadata elements should be the same across all pages on the ANU website. These are:

<meta content="The Australian National University" name="dcterms.publisher">
<meta content="" name="dcterms.publisher">
<meta content="" name="dcterms.rights">

If you use the standard templates, these are set by default and an additional meta element is included for the version of the template that you are using.

The standard templates also mark each webpage as adhering to UTF-8:

<meta charset="utf-8">
Examples of metadata elements can be found by viewing the source code of any page in this style guide.


<meta content="the URL of the page" name="dcterms.identifier">  

The URL of the page being viewed. This should be unique to the page. Include the protocol (eg http).


<meta content="My description" name="dcterms.description">

A brief summary of the content of the webpage.

Two elements are used for description to cater for two different metadata standards. Both elements should contain the same value.

Description often appears in search results, so ensure that it provides enough information for readers to decide on the relevance of your page. Think of it like a very short executive summary. Get to the point quickly and avoid phrases like 'the following page contains' - you have just wasted four words without saying much at all.

Subject keywords

<meta content="keywords describing the content" name="dcterms.subject">
<meta content="keywords describing the content" name="keywords">

A comma-separated list of keywords that describe the page contents. Three elements are used to cater for different metadata standards. All three should contain the same value.

Focus on key concepts covered by the page, not everything that is mentioned in passing.

When entering keywords it can help to think about the aspects covered by the content (people, places, objects, subjects) and ensure that all these are included along with alternative terms. Alternative terms (and common misspellings) can be useful to searchers.

For example, your page might be about cars, but including 'vehicles' in the subject keywords can help the page to appear when people search for vehicles as well as cars. Adding 'enviroment' may be helpful for searchers who regularly misspell environment.


<meta content="YYYY-MM-DD" name="dcterms.modified">

The date that the page was last changed (modified) and the date that the content is due for review.


<meta name="dcterms.creator" content="Responsible Officer">
<meta name="dcterms.creator" content="Responsible Officer or Page Contact email address">

The creator is usually set to the position title of the responsible officer and either their functional email address or the generic website contact point.

These elements are just the minimum requirements for metadata. There are other elements that could be included.

To find out more, read up on international, governmental and educational metadata standards and bodies including: Australian Standard AS 5044 (AGLS), Dublin Core, IEEE LOM, and IMS.

Updated:  26 February 2014/ Responsible Officer:  Director Marketing/ Page Contact:  Webstyle