Taxonomy and Metadata – Organizing and Structuring


Taxonomy and metadata are different, but they work together to create easily searchable content. They are both complex topics, but they’re also important, so make sure you understand how they work using this article.

What Is Taxonomy, What Is Metadata?

A taxonomy classifies different data or information. Metadata is data that describes other data. Metadata helps the process of taxonomy by first labeling information so it can be sorted. Together, this operation organizes content so it is searchable. Taxonomy and metadata are therefore different but they work together.

How Taxonomy Is Used?

The most common way to visualize taxonomies is through hierarchical structures. One that should be fairly easy to recognize is food. This is an example taxonomy of a hierarchical structure of food: Food>plant-based>tree>fruit>apple. To visualize this in relation to a different food: Food>plant-based>ground>vegetable>pepper.

A young office worker male employee leads a meeting.
Taxonomy involves structural hierarchies.

With these structures in mind, it’s easy to see how taxonomies are used in business and webpages. For example, a content management system uses a taxonomy to categorize content. This helps companies create organized websites. Since taxonomy and metadata work together, the metadata of the content helps build the taxonomy structure that creates organized websites.

How Is Metadata Used?

An easy way to imagine metadata is photography. Imagine you took 30 photographs and printed out all of them. If you were to write a one-word description of the location of each photo, this would be the metadata. Using these descriptors, you could easily sort the photographs into a functional, organized structure.

For companies constructing a business website, using metadata can drive customers to the right location of the page. It does this by funneling traffic based on keywords and search terms. Furthermore, as data is saved about types of customers, the site can be specific to certain customer needs and show content relevant to that user.

Digital Asset Management Systems Utilize Metadata and Taxonomy

Digital asset management (DAM) systems value taxonomy and metadata because they structure and store digital content. A brief description of DAM is a comprehensive storage system that organizes digital assets such as images or videos. Knowing this, companies implementing DAM need strong understanding of metadata and taxonomy.

Hands holding a figure of cooperative paper cutouts.
Metadata and taxonomy are key components of DAM.

Taxonomy helps sort which digital assets will be stored into certain areas and utilized in different ways. It does this in a DAM with the help of metadata, which labels and identifies the digital assets. The two work in tandem to create a sorted structural system in which assets such as images, videos and documents will be stored. Once there, they’ll be available for all team members to quickly retrieve and use in projects and campaigns.

Taxonomy and metadata are vital to business success, and a strong understanding of them makes all projects and campaigns run smoothly. Continue to study the ways they bring structure and organization to companies to succeed.