Some basic info about HTML terminology

General HTML Page Layout Tags
Every HTML page will (or should) have some basic tags.

  • <HEAD>. Think of this tag as the container for all of the general layout information for your page. Within the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags, you will find general information about your page. (As you will learn later, some of this information is useful in identifying your page to search engines.) Note, however, that except for the title, none of the information contained within the <HEAD> tag will be displayed to your viewers.
  • <TITLE>. This is where you assign the all-important title to your Web page. It’s easy to overlook this tag, so you should be careful that you don’t; the title of a page will appear at the top of the browser window, and is thus an important navigation element to let visitors to your Web site know where they are.
  • <BODY>. This is where most of your HTML code is placed; as such, it corresponds to the body of your Web page content.

Many HTML editors, such as FrontPage or HomeSite, will present you with a basic Web page template when you select File, New. The <HTML>, <HEAD>, <TITLE>, and <BODY> opening and closing tags are presented within this template (see the following code listing). Take advantage of this template to remind yourself to include these important tags within your document (in other words, don’t delete them)!

Utilizing the <META> Tag
<META> tags are quite useful in providing information about the contents of your page so it can be picked up and properly indexed by various search engines. The previous code listing was generated using Microsoft FrontPage, which inserted some default <META> tag information in the opening page template. More than likely, you’ll want to tweak these <META> tags so they are more illustrative of the content that actually exists on your page.  

Getting “picked up” on the web
Having a Web site is one thing, but actually getting people to visit it is something else entirely. While the usual suspects are clearly important here (that is, good design, good content… basically, having something that people are in fact interested in), Web surfers won’t know how great your site is unless they can find it!

How Web sites get categorized and turn up on various search engines and portals (for example, Yahoo!) is a difficult issue and can depend on a variety of factors. (How big is your organization? What content are you expressing on your site?) However, the skillful use of <META> tags can enhance your ability to be “picked up” by a Web search.

Also, another important issue is trying to determine how users will search for your site. On a recent drive home from work, I heard an advertisement for an otolaryngology (that’s an “ear, nose, and throat” doctor to you and me) practice. They included their Web site in the advertisement. It isn’t hard to imagine that many users might incorrectly spell “otolaryngology,” so in the <META> tag of the site, it wouldn’t be surprising if the designers considered different common misspellings of this word, not to mention including more common phrases such as “ENT” or even the individual terms “ear,” “nose,” and “throat.”

So, as you move into publishing your site and thinking about how interested folks are going to find it, the <META> tag becomes more critical. While there is no guarantee your site will be picked up by every search (or even several searches), having well-defined <META> tags can certainly help your cause.

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