Metadata – The Key To Unlocking The Real Value Of A CMS

You’ve heard the admonition “don’t rate a book by its cover”. How about when this book has no cover? No writer or even a spine? You probably won’t even bother with it, right?

The same goes for business websites that don’t “tag” or “title” their data in some way. If search engines can’t find them, there’s only a small chance that your customer will too.

Thus, clear labeling is crucial to finding the exact data you are looking for. This ‘information about information’ or coding data for easy identification is called ‘metadata’. But of course, it’s just one of its many uses. The following should explain more about the roles of metadata, especially with regard to content management systems.

The challenges of managing data

Your customers now require increased interactivity, and Content Management Systems (CMS) are imperative to managing different content. The Web 2.0 world serves content in multiple forms, with high levels of personalization available to each. This is because web pages are no longer static as the focus is now on participation, collaboration and interaction.

Thus, it is important to measure the success of online initiatives by tracking and analyzing various sources of user feedback, such as comments, votes, subscriptions, leads, and the number of downloads.

The challenges of managing unstructured and ad-hoc content creation can be huge. For example, if you allow users to add tags to the content of your site – how can you ensure the accuracy of such tags? How can you automate the process of managing and moderating information posted by readers? In all of these scenarios, content classification is essential to ensure a satisfactory customer experience.

The role of metadata in a CMS

In a CMS, metadata gives the computer the intelligence to search content based on the description stored about the content. With content in the form of traditional websites, intranets and extranets as well as Wikis, blogs and podcasts, metadata can allow you to quickly “reuse” or reuse content automatically. For example, an entertainment portal can use metadata to automatically generate related links each time a user searches an article. If a user browses a news release about a new Disney movie, CMS can use the metadata to identify related content in the form of movies stored on the portal’s shopping website, or ringtones based on classic Disney tunes. As soon as a user crawls somewhere, CMS can automatically generate links showing the availability of movies on the site’s shopping section. This is just a simple example and the potential for effective metadata in a CMS is huge. In a business where users need access to information quickly, a CMS that uses metadata asks interested users to come back.

A CMS that allows users to define their own metadata has a better chance of creating more value for the content it manages. Eg. Can subject matter experts define or label content. Similarly, external users may be allowed to tag or associate content with keywords or résumés. A CMS that supports metadata can also be used to help users classify their information manually or automatically. For example, your company may classify its information according to metadata, such as Display name, title, summary, keywords, author, expiration date, or description of content. Therefore, users who want to claim content they provide can manage it for you at the same time.


In the Web 2.0 world, you need a central mechanism to ensure that different pieces in an organization’s content information landscape speak to each other. In this scenario, metadata content quickly allows it to be identified, tagged, and composed or aggregated automatically. Metadata also facilitates content reuse or information quality improvement. Eg. Can metadata encourage content reuse by reducing duplicate content and saving each nugget content only once.

Metadata can be used very effectively in an organization’s content management workflow. By assigning metadata such as ‘crawled’, ‘approved’, ‘published’ or ‘expired’, an organization can automatically check and track each content element.

The role of metadata corresponds to a directory in a library. Unless you have a catalog that identifies, labels, and shows you the location and availability of the books, finding a book by your favorite author in a large selection of books seems like an impossible task. Metadata is the directory your CMS needs to quickly identify and retrieve specific data from your vast information landscape.