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HTML Basics
May 25, 2004

It's fairly obvious that the answer to this question is going to be "it depends."  Read on for some advice on when you might want to turn to HTML to serve your needs and what your alternatives are.

Somebody Needs to Know HTML . . .

With the advent of website templates, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and web design software that gives you a WYSIWYG way to approach web design in addition to HTML layout, not to mention the ability to hire a professional web designer to customize your site, it is certainly possible that you can run not just one web site but many without knowing anything about HTML. But is that the best route to take?

If you turn your back on HTML, you will have to pay someone else to do the simplest site updates, maintenance, and search engine optimization, not to mention any important updates. So what if you take a middle road: how about learning some HTML—enough to do the basic care of your site? Here's a guide to the small amount of HTML that will take you a long way in saving money, being able to work with your site, and not having to wait for someone else to be available.

A Little HTML Is a Great Thing

Knowing a little HTML does not mean that you have to understand how it works or what all the parts mean. In general it means you have to know which string of characters will accomplish what you want to do and fill in any specific content that applies to the situation you're addressing. There are three main areas where a little HTML can do wonders for your site.

 • Links

Knowing how to create an anchor tag that links different spots within a page, within a website, or from one webpage to another is a great skill to have. You can set up a glossary and define technical words this article has all rights reserved and is copyright by 100 Best or phrases, linking the word or phrase to the glossary page. You can have a little table of contents at the top of a page and give visitors a way to hop down the page (and also give them links to get back to the top).

For links from one page or site to another, you use one of two anchor tags. The first switches to a new page:

<a href="url">Text to be displayed</a>

You put the page URL in place of url (keep the double quotation marks) and the name of the page (or other text) in place of Text to be displayed.

If you want the link to open in a new window, you construct your  anchor tag like this:

<a href="url" target="_blank">Text to be displayed</a>

To learn more about links within a page, see the section called "The Anchor Tag and the Name Attribute" at http://www.w3schools.com/HTML/html_links.asp

 • Title Tags

Title tags provide the page title and appear in the head like this:

<html>
<head>
<title>content</title>
</head>

You replace content with the title you want used. Creating title tags is a key element of SEO, and a good thing to be able to control yourself. For more information on Title Tags, see the article Create Good Title Tags.

 <Meta> Tags

<Meta> tags are another important element of SEO that you may wish to have control of. You are most likely to use the name and http-equiv tags, allowing you to provide information to browsers and search engines that may make your pages load better and increase your page ranking. For more information, see the articles What Are <meta> Tags and More About <meta> Tags.

 

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