With so many people online, most businesses have invested in a web presence. Usually they start with cheap, reliable web building options such as Wix and WordPress. A big advantage of these sites is WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”—pronounced “wizzy-wig”) webpage editing. Using pre-formatted templates and a simple editor, casual internet users can edit their HTML to produce a professional website.
WYSIWYG vs. HTML
WYSIWYG editing is great for people who don’t want or need to understand HTML, Java, PHP, or any other scripting language. Instead of needing to understand code, WYSIWYG shows the webpage in its finished appearance while it’s being edited. This hides the formatting tags that run in the background and aren’t visible to the end user.
Here, for example, is a section from this post, showing the HTML tags surrounding hyperlinks. There are other tags for justified text, line returns, bold or italic font, and so on. There are other codes defining the font, the color, images, and how the page responds on different screens or devices.
Making HTML changes
Most HTML coding required for a basic website is updated automatically through WYSIWYG editors. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn how to work with basic HTML yourself. In a website’s script you’ll find HTML header, title, and metadata tags in the code at the top of a webpage. In WordPress, this can be located in the Appearance > Editor section, in a box called header.php.
Some of this information is automatically populated when you create a new page or post. However some of it is left blank and without it, search engines can’t properly index your site.
Title tags tell the search engine what the title of the page is. Page names should be unique, and descriptive: Page 21 isn’t as useful as Contact Us. For the most part, title tags automatically update when you name the webpage. You can also check what your title is by looking at the header and amending it if it isn’t clear.
Under the title tag, you can add a description (a meta tag) which outlines the page’s contents. The meta information appears on search engine results like Google’s as a sentence or two under the hyperlinked website title. Without a meta description, the search engine will pull a couple of sentences from somewhere on the website, which might be relevant or might not. By putting a brief, concise description into the header, you instantly make your site look more professional and accessible in search engine results, as well as provides additional space for including keywords that will attract more search engine traffic.
Less is more
It’s tempting to include a lot of keywords in title and content tags, but remember that although end users don’t see them, search engines do, and their software is designed to weed out unscrupulous websites. Lists of unconnected keywords are a red flag to crawler bots, and hurt your search engine results. Focus instead on including keywords in organic, relevant content in order to see the best results.
While most website builders have done away with the necessity to understand code in order to produce a professional-looking site, harnessing the basics can pay dividends in improving your SEO. If you’re not sure how to start, pick a plan and let TechTe.am’s friendly experts help.