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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

HTML Part 2

A week or so ago, working under the premise that all "entrepreneurial" artists should have a working knowledge of HTML, I began the first in a series of probably ten thousand articles on the mysteries of this arcane art and science considered by some artists to be just short of magic and by others as akin to witchcraft. This is my second attempt to foster HTML literacy. It might be a good idea for those with shorter short-term memory to go back and reread the previous epistle. That would be HTML Part 1 (03-02-13). A short prayer for me in this continued undertaking might also be in order. Amen.

Like most of us, an HTML document is broken down into two major sections, the HEAD and the BODY. They too get opening and closing sets of tags. Between the two "head tags" is where all the general information about the Web page goes. Between the two "body tags" is where the content of the Web page goes.

Eliminating some garbage that no one, including Web page designers, really understand, the first important item contained within the "head" tags would be the title of the page as seen in the strip at the top of each Web page window. This title would be between the opening and closing "title" tags as seen above. It would include the name the artist chooses for the particular page as well as (ideally) a word or two involving the content. Search engines quite rightfully place heavy emphasis on the title of a given page. This title is usually not the domain name as seen in the URL, nor does it require quotation marks. By the way, tags do not need to be in upper case, though often they are in order to set them apart from other code.

Below that are the "meta tags" which tell visiting search engines about your site. There are sometimes some minor meta tags, but the first of any consequence deals with keywords. These are any items a visitor might logically enter into a search engine in hopes of finding your site. They would include things such as "paintings, landscapes, still-lifes, portraits, abstracts, nonrepresentational" etc. (as seen below).  They are always separated by a comma and a space, and the entire list enclosed by quotation marks. The list can get quite lengthy when one begins to add common misspellings and the smaller details about the artwork displayed. Repeating the same word more than seven times is considered by search engines as "spamming." And don't use words like "sex" and "naked" just to snag visitors to your art site. Search engines hate that. So do those looking for naked sex. "Erotic art" would be permissible provided it's appropriate to your site's content. And when appropriate, the content meta tags should be in plural form.  In general, the more meta tags, the better.
Below that is a meta tag with a brief "description" paragraph which appears after the page title in a search engine listing. The descriptive "blurb" is also to be inside quotation marks. You would see the meta tags we've discussed above as indicated at the bottom.  The meta tags do not get printed along side your web site on a browser's screen. They are intended only to lure viewers to your site through their search engines. Following all this would be your closing tag. 

And speaking of closing one's "head" that sounds like a good place to stop. Next time, we'll visit the morgue and check out the "body" tags (not for the squeamish).


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