Understanding meta tagging and how it can benefit you

An illustration of a DNA spiral made up of tags, representing tags and permissions
April 8, 2021


It can be difficult to organize content so that everyone can find and use it — especially when you’re working with structured content for digital experiences published on several channels. Learn how Contentful’s new tags and tag-based permissions features help teams categorize, access and reuse content to improve collaboration with searchability and governance.

Mo’ content, mo’ problems

The most effective way to create a consistent brand is by using structured content within a content platform like Contentful. Every piece of content can be used multiple times, which creates a cohesive message and appearance — no matter where the content lives. 

But as teams grow and the amount of content to produce and manage expands, businesses can run into some significant challenges. Some of those challenges include:

  • Content, message and brand inconsistency

  • Inconsistent content and assets metadata

  • Slow time to find and (re)use content

  • Difficult-to-manage content access across the business

  • Increased manual workload and processes

  • Inefficient digital delivery

If it’s already hard to locate content, imagine the time it takes to edit and publish content with decentralized teams that work across time zones, channels and technologies. In the best case scenario, content managers and system administrators resort to complex workarounds to create, categorize, locate and retrieve content. In the worst-case scenario, some poor intern has to do this manually! 

It’s a dreaded administrative nightmare in the beginning that becomes only more cumbersome as the amount of content, channels and collaborators proliferate. Metadata can change that.

Illustated icon of tags

Contentful APIs now support tags as metadata

Metadata is the “digital DNA” of content and media assets. It carries a ton of information that can be used for a wide range of purposes. 

Take images as an example. When you take a picture with a digital camera, you don’t only record the image and human-readable name, date and timestamp. You also get the pixel size, compression type and sometimes copyright information. This information, called the metadata, helps you understand what image can be used in which ways. 

AI Image Tagging gives you the ability to automatically add searchable tags to images using AI. Learn more about AI image tagging here.

The same happens with content and assets in Contentful. But you get a lot more information than a typical digital camera provides. You get information that can be used via our APIs, such as these common attributes on our Content Management API orthese in our Content Delivery API. The magic happens when you have a lot of machines that exchange information via integrations and APIs, and when you can use the information to create an experience for an end customer.

Because of the ever-increasing need to do more with content, we’ve released new features to help our customers find, categorize and manage content using tags and tag-based permissions — all while making it as easy for developers to manage content programmatically.

We’ll outline how tags work to: 

  • Make it easier for administrators to centrally organize and scale content.

  • Enable developers to programmatically organize, automate and deliver content. 

  • Help content editors organize and find content faster.

Although metadata is generally hidden from the public eye and made for machines and developers to use, it is oh so powerful when it comes to enriching content and helping you do smarter things with your content.

So Meta: Scale content across the business

Platform administrators can define a taxonomy and centrally manage tags. By creating a specific set of tags to be used in an environment, it makes it easier to segment content across teams, geographies, business units, brands and even product lines to ensure greater governance around your content. 

An admin can assign tags to user roles and define tags on assets and entries, making it easier for content editors to find, edit or publish content. Admins can also grant permissions to create or manage tags to give autonomous teams the ability to specify relevant tags for their teams. This simplifies the process for creating and deploying content across projects, spaces and markets. 

Customers with edge spaces will also be able to take tags a step further by creating tag-based permissions. This lets you assign tags to a custom role to offer more granular permissions structures.

Illustration of stacked building blocks

Turbo-charging developer efficiency with meta tagging

Tags help speed up developer workflows by letting developers manage tagged content via our content management API, content delivery API and content preview API. 

The content delivery API makes it easier for developers to search for entries linked to certain tags across multiple content types with a single entry. The management API helps developers programmatically adapt, remove, import, export or migrate tagged content from one environment or space to another. 

Using tags as a metadata entity helps developers work faster by tagging programmatically based on business rules, or surfacing and validating tags to enforce the right tagging. 

Having tags supported by our key APIs makes it easier to manage content and metadata programmatically, while keeping it hidden from authors in the Contentful web app. We’ve ensured that tagged content can be accessed two to four times faster with tags than any other search or filtering method. Talk about turbo-charging the developer experience!

Illustration of a tag traveling fast

Editors productivity: Find more, search less

Tags help editors identify which content is most relevant for them. Decreasing the search time increases their creative time. They’ll be able to focus on adding value rather than never-ending quests for that one piece of content they need. 

Say goodbye to irrelevant content. Sometimes having too many options is simply overwhelming. Tags helps editors reduce the noise. A search that offers 1,000 results can be just as hopeless as a search with 0 results.

With a consistent metadata structure across other channels and services — like digital asset managers, social tools, website navigation, ecommerce — you can start creating a unified taxonomy that will help everyone find content faster.

You can even save your most important keywords. Tags can be set as saved views, making it easier to find relevant content right when you log into the web app. It’s the content you care about, right when you need it. 

Tags empower you to set up an intuitive way to access content. Organizing content around meaningful keywords lets content editors search on the terms and tags that they use every day.  

You can learn more about how to use tags and permissions in the Contentful help center. 

An illustrated graphic showing how tags and permissions work

Discover what tags and tag-based permissions can do for you

Tags and tag-based permissions can be used across your business for a variety of use cases and workflows. Try it out for yourself! 

For an in-depth walkthrough on optimizing SEO with Contentful, please refer to this guide.

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