Websites are intricate works. They are not merely comprised of pictures, tabs, and links. They are a conglomeration of complex codes that a person with no training will definitely find confusing. Through this seemingly complex abstraction, a website can turn into something informative, educational and entertaining. But if you want to understand how it really works, you have to look at the source code and see how it affects the dynamic of everything.
When you are in search of something online, the web engine looks for these codes so that the most relevant will appear on top of the list. Search engine optimization facilitates the process of shifting through billions of lines of code online. Therefore, if you want to be successful in the science of making sure that your website will be visible in the online community, then you have to know some basics when it comes reading codes. It is an essential skill that will allow you to look beyond the fancy stuff on the site and appreciate the complexity of the page.
The basics of reading code
Bear in mind that reading code is not an easy task. It’s a different language altogether. You need to have basic knowledge of HTML so that you can recognize tags. This in itself will not be enough if you want to be efficient in reading code because there are now new web coding systems that are gaining popularity, such as CSS and XML. They might be more complicated but they can make the source code more transparent. Do not be frustrated in your first few tries, you will eventually get the hang out it with practice. To make things easier for you, you might want to copy and paste the code into a word processing document. From there, you can start to break up the code into lines so that you can easily identify each part.
Viewing source code
When you talk about code reading, the most rudimentary thing to do is to first know how to view the source code. This might appear as an easy task but if you are not accustomed to doing so, you might have difficulty since every web browser has a different way of allowing source codes to be viewed. In general, the fastest way is to use the hotkey CTRL + U for browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Opera. After which, you have to navigate through various tabs and try to find a control that says “view source”, “page source” or “view page source”. Navigating through Mac may be quite tricky, but the process is essentially the same.
Finding important elements necessary for SEO
Once the source code appears, it is just a matter of looking through the important elements in a website’s code. A simple CTRL + F command will facilitate you through the navigation of the source code.
The first element that you should take notice of is the title tag. You can easily spot it because it is enclosed between <title> and </title> nearby the <head> section. This is the very thing that will be looked upon when a search engine is doing its job. All the search results prioritize sites that contain title tags similar to the phrase that is being processed. Therefore, what are the implications of this when you are building a site? First is that you have to make sure your site has a title tag and it has to be unique so that they can easily be picked up by the search engine.
The next that you should look out for is the meta description. This is like a summary of the webpage. It is displayed on the bottom of the title tag whenever it comes out of the search engine. More often than not, it does not go over 160 characters. It is like a free advertisement that allows your reader to glimpse and judge right away if your page is worth reading. So just like title tags, your meta description should also be unique and catchy. It would detrimental for you if you simply copy someone else’s meta description because that would mean that your page is plagiarized. The meta description is easily enclosed inside something like this <meta>.
Meanwhile, the image alt tabs will give you an idea of the position of the images. As a general rule, you cannot use this command for decorative purposes. They are simply important because they will give an initial impression of your site upon the utilization of SEO. It is fitting that image alt tabs are used only for infographics, screenshots, logos, or diagrams.
When working with source codes, you must have tools for checking like KISSmetrics and Google Analytics. Having these handy will make you aware if the entire code is present within the system and will allow you to see what is happening on the site.
The purpose of reading code
At the end of the day, code reading is not done for fun. As technology develops in a much faster pace, there now arises a need to understand how programming works. It is estimated that by 2020, programming will be a required skill for someone in need of a job. Therefore, starting now will allow you to have an edge in the future. Maybe for now you just see it as a way to gain insights or a means for maximizing the visibility of your site to the web, however, rest assured that your investments now will impact you greatly in the years to come.
Some learning tips
If you are really interested in learning the basics of it, then taking tutorials at sites similar to Codeacademy and One Month Rails can help you get a hang of this peculiar language. Web tutorials are often the best place to start with as opposed to reading a 300-page textbook that will bore you to death. Do not be hasty in studying, the best way to fast track your learning is by learning how to read code first. Give it a month and you will see great improvements on how you view and understand code.