You’ve got your blog up and running but are finding yourself bogged down with all the terminology. What in the world do things like RSS, CSS, HTML, SEO mean?? Well, I’m right there with you. It is a struggle to learn and wrap your head around these sometimes, especially if you are like me: aging and mentally out of focus. So in today’s Blogging 101 I’m going to try my best to explain these terms in a way that will give you HOPE in mastering the concepts (even if not the execution).
I am married to a man who teaches computer programming at a community college and I’ve never learned any. Well, not until recently. The bits of programming I’ve learned are in the form of HTML code. HTML is, like most of our terms in today’s post, an acronym meaning HyperText Mark-up Language. It was created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991 (he also essentially created what we now know as the world wide web).
He designed a language using something called tags (what shows up inside those little sideways v’s). HTML tags are always (with 1 or 2 exceptions) written in pairs: an opening tag and a closing tag. The closing tag always has the / symbol in front of the instruction. When you put an HTML tag pair around a word or phrase, it modifies how that word/phrase appears.
- it might make that word/phrase bold when you use <strong>bold</strong>
- or give it a hyperlink, like this: bold when you use this tag: <a href=”https://teachingwhatisgood.com/blogging-101-series/”>bold</a>
I know, this looks like gobblety-gook, but there really is a method to this madness. And (this is the best part of all) there are a limited number of tags used in HTML – and actually only a few that are used most of the time. So they can be learned.
Why would you want to learn them? Well, have you ever posted something only to have it NOT look like you wanted it to look? You try to put more blank lines in to space it better, or something just isn’t centering correctly? I know I’ve had blog posts that would make me pull my hair out (if I wasn’t already bald). A basic knowledge of HTML coding can help you eliminate this frustration and let you work in the TEXT tab of your dashboard post. (the VISUAL tab lets you see what it will actually look like, TEXT shows you the coded post). There are many charts or tutorials online to help with HTML code. I will link to one chart that will (hopefully) be helpful to you as you jump out into this world of HTML coding.
It stands for several different things, but I’m going to use this one: Really Simple Syndication. Basically it allows you to get updates for blogs you enjoy and want to follow.
However, like all things, RSS seems to be going the way of the dinosaur or albums or Twinkies (oh wait, they came back). Most sites still allow RSS feeds of their blogs/websites but they are much more likely to encourage you to have updates sent directly to your inbox. And even beyond that, many are actually looking for you to subscribe to their newsletters so you can get all the information weekly rather than daily.
But RSS has one nice feature for the reader: it allows you to have blog posts sent to a Reader. Think of this as a newspaper with articles from many different writers all in one place. You can scroll down, look at the post and decide if you really want to read that one or not. Then you can mark any or all of them as Read and it will keep track of what you still have to read. Kind of nice. However, when Google discontinued its Google Reader earlier this year, RSS began to have less and less relevance.
You can STILL sign up for a Feedburner account through Google, although they offer no help or support for it anymore, which will allow you to post a link on your blog to that Feedburner feed (the updates to your posts).
Oh now this one is a toughie for me. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and is a way to stylize your blog/website to make it look really cool. But, that, I’m afraid is all I’m going to say because I was just beginning to learn CSS basics when my computer died and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. Maybe after the New Year I’ll have more information for you.
Ahhh, the dreaded topic of SEO. You know, I don’t think ANYONE really understands all there is to learn about SEO. It stands for Search Engine Optimization. Search engines are the things that allow people to look for your blog or post topics. Google and Bing are examples of search engines. Search engine optimization means that you are doing everything you can to make each post catch the eye of the search engines so when someone types in: Grandmother’s Pumpkin Supreme YOUR recipe on your blog will show up on the first page of Google’s search. The closer yours shows up to the front page of Google, the greater your chance of people finding and clicking on your link and, thereby, building your audience for your site.
The problem I’ve found in my research over these past several years is that Google (who holds the Holy Grail on SEO) likes to change the rules and they like to keep their methods a secret. Things bloggers were told to do 2 years ago can kill your blog’s SEO today.
And frankly, I want to spend my time focusing on writing great content rather than on trying to type in meta-something or others to try and boost my SEO. I have chosen, however, to rely on the expertise of Yoast in using their plugin: Yoast WordPress SEO. All I do is type in a focus keyword in the box under each post, it writes up a title and I type up a 156 character Meta Description. This usually gives my post a Green Light (their signal that it is pretty good) and I leave it at that. I have found, however, that hits (times someone clicked on my site) for my blog posts have increased since I started using the Yoast plugin.
Well, that’s a wrap for today’s post on very basic terminology. I hope it opened up the reality that these are not CIA terms for disposing of enemies. They are acronyms for some things that can be very helpful for bloggers…but NOT necessary. We don’t all have to understand it all. Sometimes, however, it is nice to know what we don’t know!
Linking to any number of these lovely blogs.