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What is metadata
Metadata is data about data. It is not visible on the Web screen but is visible in the source code at the top of the screen in the "head" area (click on View Source in your Web browser menu to see the source code of any Web screen).

There are different types of metadata - such as a description, keywords and content.

Metadata can be used in any number of ways, most notably to provide a concise description of a screen's content or function which can then be more easily found by people using search engines.

Several metadata sets are emerging as 'standards' for various sectors and applications, but there isn't one which is widely agreed as a standard across all cultural sectors. Theoretically there is no limit to the number of metadata sets you can use in a website, though practically the fewer the better otherwise 'information overload' will be replaced by 'metadata overload' and in any event the size of files will be too large to download quickly.

Some search engines catalogue and rank websites according to metadata but it has variable effects. Repetition of words or phrases can lead search engine cataloging robots to think you are spamming so they drop your site of the list. It's worth visiting each search engine you want to list your site with to check whether they use metadata to catalogue and rank websites and how you can optimise your own.

The Australian Government Locator Service
The Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS), which is based on the Dublin Core standard, is the mandatory standard for inclusion on Australian Federal Government websites. It is also being applied to many State Government websites.

Metadata resources
Some metadata resources are listed here to help you learn more about adding metadata to your website.

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