Information Overload!!

I must admit, I’m not very internet/computer savvy.  I know how to use the basics like word, excel, and how to do research online…but beyond that, I’m pretty much hopeless.  In class, we were discussing one of our text books, Search Engine Optimization, and I felt completely lost because of all this new terminology.  So for anyone out there who is as confused as I am by all the computer and internet jargon, look no further because I have put together a brief guide (explained in English) to some of the basics.  To preface the ramblings below, this is as much for my understanding as it is for your knowledge.  I learn the best by explaining things to others…so here it goes!

Content–the stuff that you create

  • Domain name–what you call your site (the http://www.domainname.com bit).  In order to use search engines to their highest potential, it is best to use keywords in your domain name.
  • Keywords–the actual search terms (for example, if I were looking for information on travel in Europe, the keywords I might use could be something like “places to eat in Paris,” “best sights in Italy,” etc.).  It is best to use keywords frequently in your text because then the search engines will rank you higher when someone searches for your website’s topic.
  • Web page title–this one is pretty self-explaninitory…what’s your website called?
  • Web page description–the bit that pops up under the web page title when you search for something.  I had no idea that you got to write this piece too…I thought that Google just automatically populated it from the first page of your website.

Protocol–how you go about doing things online

  • URL (uniform resource locator)/HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol)–these are how you find things online.  You have probably seen websites that pop up with “http://” in front of them, and the URL is the name for the entire web address.
  • FTP (file transfer protocol)–this is what you use to upload or download information to your web host (web hosts will be discussed later) which will change your website.
  • IP (internet protocol)–I had actually heard of this one before going to class!!  The IP address of a computer basically the address from which you’re connecting to the internet.  If you’re creating a website,  you need to know your IP address in order to upload or download information from the server.

Service–everything that helps to create your website, usually you have to pay for these.

  • Domain name registration–lets you pick what your domain name is and buy/rent rights to it.  A popular service for this is godaddy.com.
  • Domain name hosting–the host is the big computer (or server) that allows other people to access your website.
  • Web hosting–websites that host your website on their server for free, these can sometimes put ads all over your page…so the paid version is typically much better!

Language–I was right in thinking that everyone was speaking a different language!  Computers have their own set of languages, the most popular is discussed in this section.

  • HTML (hypertext markup language)–this is the basic one that’s used for most sites.  HTML has three forms–text based, object based and WYSIWYG.  Text based allows you to actually write in HTML language…that sounds way too complicated for me!  Object based is an easier form to use because it gives you little “packets” of information (like the background theme on my blog page) that you choose and assign to your page.  WYSIWYG stands for “what you see is what you get” and means the “drag and drop” form of getting content onto your page–you can go find an image somewhere and literally drag it onto your page, but cannot edit the image itself because what you see is what you get!

Software–this is the stuff that you put on your computer…the best example is something like word, or another program that you put on your computer to use.  This section deals with software related to online content though.

  • HTML editor and web design–these are pretty basic, they are the programs that you use in order to make the website.  Later on, you would have to use a content management program to actually say what goes on your site, but this is the basic bit to design how it all looks.
  • Content management system–the software that you use to manage everything that goes onto your site.  It’s sort of like a platform from which to make changes to the content of your site.  Examples of these include Joomla and Drupal.
  • Spider–these little guys crawl around the internet looking for new sites and changes to existing sites.  Spiders are put out by search engines so that they can provide the most up-to-date information when you search for something.  For example, if I had a website about European travel and put up a new section on Berlin, the spiders that, say Google, has out would come and find my information so the next time someone looks for information on Berlin, my website might come up closer to the top of the search list.  If you do a good job including lots of keywords on your site, then the spiders will find you and get your page near the top of search results.
  • Linux–this is an open-source (that will be explained next!) operating system that is used by many servers to put content on the websites that they host.
  • Open-source–this is non-copyrighted information that anyone can develop.
  • Server configuration program–this is the program that goes on the server in order to allow your website to be put on the internet.  The most common server configuration program is Apache.

Hardware–this is the easiest piece for me to understand because you can actually see it.  If you are sitting at a computer reading my blog right now, you’re looking at a piece of hardware!  Hardware is the physical computer.

  • Server–I’ve mentioned these a number of times already, so for a brief explanation…the server is the super-powered computer that hosts a bunch of websites all at once.  Servers are pretty smart because they can have a ton of websites running all at the same time!

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations!!! Not being a computer person, I know that all this information made my head swim, but I hope that it has helped you to understand some of the computer and internet terminology floating around out there.

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