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GN web tips

How does the Internet work?


At this moment, it is nearly guaranteed that:

  • You are sitting at your computer.
  • You are using a Web browser to read this page, and that browser could be Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox or maybe Netscape.
  • You want to learn how Web pages work

In order to talk about Web pages and how they work, you will want to understand four simple terms (and if some of this sounds like technical mumbo-jumbo the first time you read it, don't worry):

Web page

A Web page is a simple text file that contains not only text, but also a set of HTML tags that describe how the text should be formatted when a browser displays it on the screen. The tags are simple instructions that tell the Web browser how the page should look when it is displayed. The tags tell the browser to do things like change the font size or color, or arrange things in columns. The Web browser interprets these tags to decide how to format the text onto the screen.


HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. A "markup language" is a computer language that describes how a page should be formatted. If all you want to do is display a long string of black and white text with no formatting, then you don't need HTML. But if you want to change fonts, add colors, create headlines and embed graphics in your page, HTML is the language you use to do it.

Web browser

A Web browser, like Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer, is a computer program (also known as a software application, or simply an application) that does two things:

  • A Web browser knows how to go to a Web server on the Internet and request a page, so that the browser can pull the page through the network and into your machine.
  • A Web browser knows how to interpret the set of HTML tags within the page in order to display the page on your screen as the page's creator intended it to be viewed.

Web server

A Web server is a piece of computer software that can respond to a browser's request for a page, and deliver the page to the Web browser through the Internet. You can think of a Web server as an apartment complex, with each apartment housing someone's Web page. In order to store your page in the complex, you need to pay rent on the space. Pages that live in this complex can be displayed to and viewed by anyone all over the world. Your landlord is called your host, and your rent is usually called your hosting charge. Every day, there are millions of Web servers delivering pages to the browsers of tens of millions of people through the network we call the Internet.

After you have spent hours creating your site, and have posted it on a server, you really want people to come look at it. But in order to get people to visit your site, you have to promote it. Very few people will find your site by accident -- something has to lead them there.

Search Engine

Search engines, like Google, read a Web page and index all of the words from the page. Users of the search engines can find your page by searching for keywords.

From a Web promotion standpoint, the nice thing about search engines is that it is easy to get your site listed on them. However, most of these sites are very slow to pick up new sites, because people must review each submitted site before it can be added to the collection of links.