Writing for search

Metadata is information about your content that allows users to find what they're looking for. When you get your metadata right, search engines will rank your information higher. This is called search engine optimisation (SEO).

You can enter metadata about your pages in the content management system (CMS).

Search engines index your page title, its subheadings and keywords so as to rank your content in a search result. Your metadata is a good way to connect with your audience in a meaningful way in a search result.

Meta title

Your meta title displays in a browser bar/tab and in a search result. It tells a search engine what the page is about, and promotes key points.

  • Use a unique title for each page.
  • Describe what the page is about - same or similar to the page title.
  • Lead with your main keyword and include secondary keywords where appropriate.
  • Do not exceed 15 words.

Example: Office of Education - evidence-based analysis of education practices.

Screenshot of Google Chrome tab where your meta title appears. Screenshot of Google Chrome tab where your meta title appears.
Image: Example of this web page's meta title appearing in a browser tab.

Meta description

Displays under the meta title in a search result. Write it to give users a reason to click through to the page.

  • Make compelling and keyword rich.
  • Use a call to action where appropriate to encourage a click-through.
  • Use verbs and active voice.
  • Do not exceed 150 characters including spaces.

Example: Opt in to a new business intelligence program for principals.

Learn more about how to write a meta description.

Screenshot of Google search result meta description. Screenshot of Google search result meta description.
Image: Your meta description appears as a snippet or preview under the search engine result.


Plan your topic keywords when constructing each page. If the site already exists, find out what search terms visitors are using to find you. These keywords should naturally be included in your first two paragraphs.

Keywords are the unique to your content's topic. Users and search engines will use them, or scan your content for them to validate it.

  • Use main and secondary words or phrases.
  • Three to six unique keywords for each page is plenty.
  • There's no need to repeat keywords in slight variations.

Example: information management, financial data, governance rules.

Note: this advice is referring to "keywords" you include in your content, not keywords that might be added as metadata tags. Metadata keyword tags will not help with search engine optimisation. Keywords or phrases you do add into your content copy will help with search engine optimisation.


Define the sub topics for your page by using subheadings in logical sequence. Use the subheading styles (h2, h3, h4) that are available in your content management system so that search engines and screen readers can index them.


Subheading h3

Subheading h4

Subheading h5

How-to guides

Learn how to add metadata and subheadings to your pages using our guides:

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