Metadata Management: What You Need to Know

In this Article

The current global eCommerce market is the largest it has ever been, and it is booming. Moreover, global eCommerce marketplaces are central to the market’s growth and expansion, providing the platform for online shopping to thrive and become popular.  However, few can confidently single out examples of marketplaces that blazed the trail for others or even the largest marketplaces in operation today.

In this light, this article explores the top 10 largest global eCommerce marketplaces. It wraps up with a discussion of the importance of product content management solutions (PIMs and DAMs) in the success of the marketplaces.

The Basics of Metadata Management

Before we launch into the heart of our discussion, it helps to get basic definitions out of the way. 

For starters, what is metadata? 

Metadata is the structured information that contextualizes product data (provides details about the various aspects of product content). 

Simply put, this is data about product data. On the other hand, metadata management involves creating, controlling, and managing metadata schemas, models, and systems.

In eCommerce, metadata provides details the information of the showcased products. This information aids in enhancing online store discoverability, organization, and presentation. Users benefit from easier item location and selection.

The various aspects of product content (also called attributes) that metadata describes include:

  • Product information: This includes attributes like product name, description, SKU (stock-keeping unit) numbers, manufacturer details, dimensions, weight, and materials.
  • Categories and tags: Metadata assigns products to specific categories or tags, facilitating efficient organization and navigation. For example, a shirt might be categorized under “Apparel” and tagged as “Casual,” “Men’s,” and “Summer.”
  • Images and multimedia: Metadata can include information about images and multimedia files associated with products. This might involve image dimensions, file formats, alt text for accessibility, and captions.
  • Price and availability: Metadata can detail the price of a product, any discounts or promotions, and its availability status (e.g., in stock, out of stock).
  • Variants and options: For products with multiple options (e.g., sizes, colors), metadata helps distinguish between these variations and keeps track of available stock for each variant.
  • Reviews and ratings: Metadata can store customer reviews, ratings, and feedback associated with a product, providing social proof and influencing purchasing decisions.
  • Shipping and logistics: Information about shipping options, delivery times, and associated costs can be part of the metadata, ensuring customers have accurate expectations.

eCommerce businesses deploy metadata management through the strategic organization, maintenance, and optimization of metadata. As a result, they can:

  • Discover data across different sources and locations
  • Understand data relationships, dependencies, and transformations
  • Track how data is used, shared, and changed
  • Assess the value and risks associated with data usage
  • Leverage data to gain insights, create value, and drive growth

Why Metadata is Vital to eCommerce SEO

Metadata is a crucial aspect of eCommerce global SEO that helps enhance the discoverability, relevance, and visibility of products and content on search engines. It helps search engines understand the content of an eCommerce website and present it to users actively looking for related products or information. 

Specifically, metadata helps online stores achieve the following:

  • Improved search engine rankings: Search engines like Google use metadata, among other factors, to determine the relevance and quality of a web page. As such, adequately optimized metadata helps eCommerce pages to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords and phrases. The result is an increased likelihood of attracting organic traffic.
  • Keyword optimization: Metadata allows online stores to incorporate relevant keywords that potential customers might use when searching for products. This way, they signal to search engines that their page applies to those keywords, increasing the chances of ranking higher for those searches.
  • Higher click-through rates (CTR): Meta descriptions are often displayed in search results as snippets beneath the page title. A compelling meta description can entice users to click on a specific link, leading to a higher click-through rate. Simply put, well-crafted metadata, particularly meta titles, and descriptions, can entice users to click on a particular search result.
  • Accurate information display: Metadata, such as product titles and descriptions, directly influence how products are presented in search results and on the b2b eCommerce website. Therefore, implementing clear and accurate metadata ensures that users see consistent and relevant information, which helps build trust and credibility.
  • Mobile and voice search optimization: Besides accurate information display, clear and precise metadata also helps optimize the website content for mobile and voice search. It becomes even more important when one realizes that voice search and mobile platforms are critical aspects of the digital landscape. For instance, users often use voice search with natural language queries, making keyword-rich metadata crucial for appearing in these search results.
  • Competition and differentiation: In the highly competitive eCommerce landscape, even the slightest advantage can make all the difference in getting noticed. With so many marketplaces offering similar products and services, it is crucial to stand out. The best way to achieve this is through well-optimized metadata – it results in unique and compelling metadata, differentiating your offerings and attracting more attention.

How Does Metadata Management Work?

Let’s see how metadata management works, and for good measure, we will see how ElectroShop, a fictional online electronics retailer, navigates through implementing a metadata management program. Read more about Catsy PIM for Retailers.

For starters, it should be stressed that metadata management is not a one-time activity. Instead, it is a continuous process that involves various roles, tools, and technologies

To realize its objectives, ElectroShop needs to harness a combination of the right tools and dedicated personnel. By tapping into their collective expertise and potential, the company can implement a metadata management program that effectively addresses its requirements

Balancing Roles: Data Owners and Metadata Managers

Suppose that ElectroShop has a lot of data sources, such as its website, mobile app, inventory system, customer relationship management (CRM) system, sales and marketing system, and social media platforms. 

The challenge is that each data source has metadata describing the data structures, quality, and elements. 

As such, the retailer must have data owners and metadata managers on hand for effective metadata management.

On the one hand, metadata managers create, maintain, and govern organizational metadata standards and policies. Their objective is consistent, accurate, complete, and up-to-date metadata. 

On the other hand, data owners are subject matter experts who understand information details from all sources. They are accountable for the quality, security, and best practices usage of the data in their domains. 

Additionally, they provide the business context and meaning of the product content and deliver communications crucial to operational success across the organization.

For example, the website manager of ElectroShop is a data owner who knows the details of the web analytics data, such as page views, clicks, conversions, bounce rates, etc. 

The website manager provides this information to the metadata manager, who then creates and updates the metadata schema for the web analytics data source.

metadata tools

Leveraging Tools and Technologies for Efficient Metadata Management 

In addition to human capital (data owners and metadata managers), the implementation process benefits immensely from various tools and technologies

To build proper capabilities for this task, ElectroShop must use various metadata management tools and technologies for automation, integration, and impact analysis of its metadata. 

For instance, the retailer might use a metadata scanner to scan its inventory system daily and extract the metadata about its products, such as name, description, price, category, availability, etc. 

The scanner then validates this metadata with the metadata repository and updates any changes. ElectroShop also may use a metadata integration tool to synchronize this metadata with its website, mobile app, and sales system. This ensures that the customers see consistent and accurate product information on different platforms. 

Lastly, the retailer may use a metadata analysis tool to profile its product data and identify any issues or anomalies in the metadata. The tool then provides suggestions for fixing or enhancing the metadata.

The Power of Unified Systems: Merging PIM and DAM for Optimal Metadata Management 

The great news is that ElectroShop doesn’t need a separate tool/technology for each phase of the metadata management process. The company needs a robust product information management (PIM) solution that performs all the tasks quickly without (or with little) human intervention. 

The retailer may also need a digital asset management (DAM) solution to complete the suite of requirements for a fully-fledged product content management system. 

Even better, opting for PIM software with built-in DAM solutions (such as Catsy) is essential for avoiding integration issues and the added cost of dealing with different suppliers.

Interestingly, the best and most effective PIM and DAM tools have built-in machine learning (ML) capabilities that help users augment their metadata management with intelligence and insights. 

So, suppose ElectroShop decides to use Catsy in the implementation process. In that case, the retailer can achieve the following without breaking a sweat:

  • Single Source of Truth: provide a unified platform where all digital assets and product information are stored, making it easier to access, manage and update metadata consistently across various channels and platforms. 
  • Automated Enrichment: Leveraging AI, Catsy DAM auto-generates metadata tags using image recognition capabilities, saving users time and ensuring every asset is enriched. 
  • Seamless Integration: DAM & PIM systems facilitate seamless integration between different organizational tools and platforms, ensuring metadata consistency and reducing the risk of discrepancies arising from isolated platforms. 
  • Readiness Reporting: Built-in readiness reporting allows you and your team to see which products are always ready – ensuring effective metadata management on all digital assets within your ecosystem.

As you can see from this example, metadata management is a complex but essential process that helps ElectroShop manage its data effectively and efficiently. Technologies like Catsy are invaluable in ensuring organizations maintain consistent, accurate, complete, and up-to-date metadata.

How Is Metadata Management Related to Data Governance?

All companies that generate or handle customer-facing content must have policies, standards, metrics, and roles that ensure efficient and effective use of information. The technical term for this is data governance. 

Data governance is the strategic management of information within an organization. Several principles enable organizations to achieve the ideals of data governance; they include:

  • Facilitating improved decision-making by providing dependable, uniform, and pertinent information.
  • Minimizing obstacles in operations by eliminating isolated data, duplications, and contradictions.
  • Ensuring data quality, security, and privacy to safeguard the interests of those who rely on it.
  • Teaching management and employees to embrace standard methods for dealing with data-related matters by promoting comprehension, values, and responsibility toward data.
  • Establishing consistent and replicable procedures through establishing regulations, guidelines, and protocols for data management.
  • Enhancing efficiency and cutting expenses through synchronized data initiatives throughout the company.
  • Making sure that all data decisions, actions, and results are recorded to maintain processes’ transparency.

Managing metadata is a vital aspect of data governance that aids in extracting valuable insights from available product content. It involves identifying, defining, and categorizing data, making it an essential component of data governance. 

In fact, metadata management enforces regulatory controls on relevant data components by implementing data quality standards. The interplay between metadata management and data governance offers numerous benefits to organizations, including:

  • Users can easily find and access the necessary information for analysis or reporting purposes.
  • It helps users perform impact analysis – assessing changes or issues’ impact on their data assets.
  • It allows users to track data lineage, showing where it came from, how it was created or modified, when it was updated or refreshed, and where it was stored or delivered.
  • Users can measure and improve the quality of their product content by validating quality rules, metrics, and standards. For instance, it allows users to see how well their data conforms to the expected or desired criteria such as accuracy, completeness, consistency, timeliness, etc.
  • It allows users to protect their product content from unauthorized access or misuse.
  • Most importantly, metadata management’s role in data governance helps users comply with the legal and ethical requirements for handling personal or sensitive data.

How Should I Implement Metadata Management?

It’s crucial to emphasize that metadata management isn’t a universal solution applicable in the same way to every organization. Its successful implementation demands meticulous planning and precise execution.  

However, the ultimate effectiveness of metadata management hinges on the distinct requirements and objectives of your organization. 

So, how should you embark on integrating this process into your enterprise? 

  • Start by assessing the organization’s current state: Understand your organization’s existing metadata landscape. Identify data sources, systems, and processes that generate or utilize metadata.
  • Define objectives: Clearly outline your metadata management goals. For example, are you aiming for improved data quality, better searchability, compliance, or all of these? Most crucially, define measurable objectives to track progress.
  • Stakeholder identification: Identify stakeholders, including data owners, metadata managers, IT teams, and end-users. Understand their roles, responsibilities, and needs regarding metadata.
  • Metadata inventory: Create a checklist of metadata elements used across the organization. Categorize them based on data domains, systems, and usage.
  • Metadata standards: Develop guidelines that ensure consistency in naming conventions, definitions, formats, and other attributes. Involve relevant stakeholders in establishing these standards.
  • Metadata tools: Evaluate and select appropriate metadata management tools or systems that align with your organization’s needs and capabilities. For example, you can choose Catsy PIM, which comes with a pre-integrated DAM solution, to automate the metadata management process. This tool allows users to leverage the very best of AI and machine learning in product content management.

How to align metadata management with business objectives and stakeholder needs:

Part of the reason for defining metadata management objectives is to ensure your organization has clarity regarding the general direction of product content management. 

But while goals and objectives contribute immensely to designing metadata management architecture and framework, it must be stated that aligning with stakeholder needs is a separate issue. 

The following steps should help to overcome this challenge:

  • Select and deploy the appropriate metadata management tools or platforms that meet organizational requirements and budgets.
  • Store and manage the collected metadata in a centralized repository or catalog that provides a single source of truth for your metadata elements. Again, an integrated PIM and DAM platform like Catsy is the most appropriate solution.
  • Ensure the metadata management strategy aligns with the organization’s business objectives. For instance, if improving customer experience is a priority, focus on metadata that enhances customer search and navigation.
  • Understand how different stakeholders use metadata—tailor metadata attributes to meet their specific needs. For example, marketing teams might need different metadata than IT teams.
  • Involve business units, IT, data owners, and other relevant parties in the metadata design process. Their input ensures that metadata reflects real-world scenarios. The single source of truth create earlier is invaluable in this phase.

Best Practices:

But this strategy is not a one-time project but a continuous journey that requires ongoing commitment and collaboration from all stakeholders. 

In this regard, some best practices must be used as the irreducible minimum for better outcomes; they include:

  • Communicating metadata management’s value proposition and benefits to all organizational stakeholders.
  • Involving the relevant stakeholders in the planning and execution of the metadata management strategy.
  • Assigning clear roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder in the metadata management initiative.
  • Establishing a metadata governance and stewardship program that oversees and coordinates the metadata management activities and ensures the metadata elements’ quality, consistency, and compliance.
  • Providing adequate training and support for the stakeholders on using the metadata management tools and technologies and leveraging the metadata for their data needs.
  • Establish cross-functional teams involving representatives from various departments. These teams can work together to design, implement, and maintain metadata standards.
  • Using change management practices to address resistance, provide support, and guide the organization through the transition.
  • Beginning with pilot projects to test your metadata management strategy. Evaluate their success, gather feedback, and adjust appropriately before scaling up.
  • Review and update metadata standards regularly to accommodate changing business needs and evolving data landscapes.


In today’s data-driven marketplace, understanding what metadata is and the intricacies of metadata management is paramount for organizations. It not only offers a clear pathway for intelligence-driven operational decisions but also fosters transparency, collaboration, and integration across various applications

Through best practices and the right tools, such as Catsy DAM & PIM, businesses can automate and enhance the attributes of their data. 

Machine learning further augments this capability, pushing the boundaries of how data can transform organizational strategies. As we dive deep into data governance, it’s evident that impactful metadata management lays the foundation for data lineage, security, and overall quality. 

A successful implementation requires careful alignment with business requirements between data elements. Ultimately, by harnessing the capabilities offered by metadata management, organizations can elevate their position in the competitive marketplace. 


Managing metadata is difficult primarily because of the scale and decentralization of metadata across numerous systems and siloed teams. Without clear standards, governance, and specialized tools, manual metadata processes become inefficient, inconsistent, and error-prone. The lack of expertise and low priority for metadata management further compounds these challenges. Effective metadata management requires a coordinated effort across teams, from assessing the current state to defining standards, governing processes, selecting automation tools, and changing mindsets through communication and training.

Metadata management requires a cross-functional team, including metadata analysts to design standards, architects to develop strategy and integration, engineers to automate processes, stewards to govern quality, business analysts to gather requirements, data owners as subject matter experts, and taxonomists to classify data.

Yes. Metadata management is integral to data governance frameworks to maintain quality, security, and compliance through ongoing curation of accurate, complete metadata in catalogs and repositories.

Metadata management tools like PIM, Master Data Management (MDM), and DAM systems help create, store, share, and govern metadata on an enterprise scale.

Metadata management improves findability, increases trust in data, enables automation, and helps meet compliance requirements.

Metadata Management: What You Need to Know
Article Name
Metadata Management: What You Need to Know