Metadata Schema instruction


Instruction statement

To provide web content creators, web editors and web managers with instructions on how to create and maintain good metadata by understanding its benefits and application across the RMIT web presence.


This procedure does not apply to:

  • courseware, including scholarly work, student work and teaching and learning materials
  • websites that have no relationship to RMIT (for example, personal or private sites)
  • design elements that serve a functional purpose only and that users will be unlikely to attempt to locate in search results (for example buttons and icons)

Instruction steps and actions

Metadata provides information about a website that gives search engines clues regarding what a site is about. It is beneficial for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). For more SEO guidance refer to the Writing for SEO Instruction.

RMIT uses metadata to support search and power the dynamic content that allow us to publish and distribute to many locations. RMIT provides relevant, contextual results for all users by applying one of our core principles: Create once, publish everywhere (COPE).

RMIT uses a University-wide fixed metadata schema to categorise content. Web publishers can also apply free metadata to help differentiate their content. Applying fixed and free metadata helps gain a larger audience for our content.

1. Write for people and search engines

Metadata powers the search and management of content, and so must be created with users in mind.

1.1 Enable search engines to categorise content

The URL, page title, meta description, keyword and abstract are all used by search engines to index content and must be considered when building metadata. In most cases these elements will contain many of the same words. Typically the description will appear in the search engine results page (SERP).

1.2 Add findable keywords

Metadata uses the most accurate words to describe its associated content. When building metadata use common words, direct phrases, clear descriptions and short phrases. Avoid duplication, jargon and abbreviations. Spell out acronyms unless they are widely known. For example, CSIRO.

1.3 Help users to find related content

Metadata enables users to find content using the internal search function. It also allows them to discover related content.

Good metadata makes connections between content and distributes it to relevant pages on the site. It supports feeds and drives dynamic queries, both of which enable RMIT to practice COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere).

For example, associating the fixed metadata term art and design as well as the differentiating terms design, fashion, fine art or textiles to pieces of content allows us to publish these pieces to all areas that require art and design content

1.4 Consider the abstract in different channels

The abstract field in the Content Management System (CMS) provides a short description of the content. Ensuring this is clear and concise means the content can be used to feed multiple channels (For example as a newsfeed item or Facebook post).

1.5 Make content traceable

Add the author, version and revision dates to the CMS. This type of metadata prevents multiple revisions.

2. Fixed metadata

The fixed RMIT Metadata schema (See: Metadata schema spreadsheet) contains groups of words and phrases within categories. When applied to your content it helps the website to sort and dynamically deliver it to other pages. Use the fixed metadata to highlight the key aspects of your content.

For example, a public architecture lecture could have the following metadata associated with it. Within each category, appropriate keywords have been chosen that relate to the content. Categories that are not relevant have been ignored.

Metadata Category


Application type


Staff, current students, public


Construction, Building and Architecture



Design and Social Context, Architecture and design

Commonwealth assistance

Distribution channel


Entrance requirements

Event type

Public lecture


Fund source

Industry sectors

Building and construction


Interest and sub

Architecture and building, architecture



Physical location


Policy index


Research interests

Student opportunities

Study mode

Study type

Teaching methods


TRIM number

3. Free metadata

After assigning fixed metadata, if needed you can also create free metadata to help differentiate your content. Free metadata should include popular, descriptive words that accurately describe the content and are regularly used in search engines.

3.1 Discover common search terms

Google Analytics can provide reports of search terms users are currently using to find your content. These should be considered alongside popular keywords when building free metadata. For assistance contact Digital and Customer Experience Strategy.

3.2 Use synonyms

Using synonyms of the fixed metadata helps more users find content. Ensure phrases are closely related and aim to gather free metadata that is relevant to 80% of your content. This supports the user experience by providing content that accurately matches search terms.

3.3 Prioritise your keywords

Discovering the popularity and accuracy of keywords allows us to give them a value. Create a list of your keywords in value order, highest to lowest. When creating content and metadata use the keywords in their priority order. Put the most valuable keywords first and use them with most frequency.

3.4 How to enter keywords

Phrases and keywords are added into a field in the CMS – each must be separated by a comma.

4. Add metadata to all media assets

Refer to the Metadata for media assets instruction

5. Measure effectiveness and adapt

5.1 Review your metadata

Review analytics data to discover whether the metadata you have created matches the search terms that visitors have used to arrive at the page. Adapt your free metadata accordingly. For assistance contact Digital and Customer Experience Strategy.

5.2 Suggest alterations to the RMIT Metadata Schema

If you discover particularly well-performing free metadata, inform the Digital and Customer Experience Strategy Site Editor as this may serve as an alternative to the fixed metadata.

5.3 Edit metadata when you edit the page

When you make edits to a page, check your update and update where necessary. This will ensure metadata still accurately describes your content and that keywords are still in the on page text.

[Next: Supporting documents and information]