Web ArchitectureIn our previous blog, we talked about basic web development terminologies and explored what makes up a website. In this post, we are going to dive into how websites are made available for the public to view. We are going to cover the following topics:
- Domain Name System
- Search Engines and SEO
Domain Name System (DNS)Your domain name is like your home address. Your home location can be identified in terms of latitude and longitude, but that's not a very user-friendly way of representing where you live. So instead, your home address typically consists of a few numbers, followed by a easy-to-memorize name of your street.
The web works in a similar way. Think of the internet as being a gigantic network of computers, all connected by wires. Each of these computers have information on them that you want to access. In order to do so, you need to make a request to that particular computer for information. This means that you need a way to identify individual computers. For this reason, each of these computers are assigned a unique ID called the Internet Protocol Address (IP Address). An IP Address will look something like "184.108.40.206". This is like the latitude and longitude of your home address.
This, in essence, is how the Internet works - using our beloved web browsers like Chrome and Firefox, we send a request to a remote computer with a specific IP Address, and that computer will respond by giving you the information that they have. But imagine having to memorize a complicated series of numbers like an IP Address just to visit a website. Most people are pretty bad at memorizing a series of numbers - but are really good at memorizing a series of words. This is where the Domain Name System comes in. The DNS maps a unique name to an IP Address. So, when we visit the Google's home page, we are not typing the IP Address of the computer that is hosting Google's website - instead, we can simply type "google.com" to access Google's website.
HostingIf domain is like your home address, then your host is your actual home. It's where your website lives - all of your code, images and data are stored in a host.
Sometimes, your websites aren't stored in one location. Can you imagine storing all of your wealth in your own house? Typically, you would store the majority of your financial wealth in a bank for security reasons. In case of something like a fire or robbery, you don't want all of your wealth to be gone if/when something happens to your home.
Similarly, you sometimes see different parts of the website being hosted in different hosting locations. This is especially true for larger websites. A website might host their code on one computer, and their database and assets (images, videos, etc.) in another. This allows for more security, and it also makes a website more performant as tasks are dispersed across different computers.
Search Engines and SEOYou might spend a lot of money and time getting your website up, but it won't do very much if your audience can't get to it. This is where search engines like Google and Bing comes in.
Search engine is a directory of websites, and it allows your audience to search your website using keywords that are related to you. Of course, people can search your website by typing your domain name - however, this is not really what a search engine is for.
As a website owner, your primary goal of registering your website to a search engine is gathering organic traffic - traffic gained through related keywords as opposed to the exact name of your website. For example, if you want your hardware business website to reach your audience, you want your website to be searchable by keywords other than "Jim's Hardware Wonderland". Instead, you probably want people to find you by searching with more generic terms like "Toronto hardware store".
This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO is the process of optimizing your website to gather more organic traffic. SEO is like building roads to your business location - the more roads that lead to your business, the more clients you get. The better the quality of your roads, the easier it is for your audience to get to your business.
In SEO, keywords are your roads - the more keywords you can target, the likelihood of someone finding your website is higher. Instead of just targeting "Toronto hardware store", you might also target "Toronto plumbing tools", and "Toronto power tools". This way, your website is now searched by people who are looking for hardware stores, as well as people looking for plumbing and power tools.
This is only scratching the surface of SEO, but the basic idea is that you want SEO on your website so that your audience can find you using more generic terms related to your business.
Web Architecture - Final ThoughtsEven if you know about domain name system, hosting and SEO, it can be overwhelming to find a trustworthy place to purchase these services. In particular, finding a suitable hosting plan is something people struggle with. Hosting is basically purchasing part of a computer to store your website - and the prices get affected by the computer's specs like performance and storage size. It might be tempting to buy the cheapest hosting plan out there, but it might not be powerful enough to host your website. On the flip side, if you buy the most powerful hosting plan out there, it might be overkill, and it may leave you with a hefty hosting fee.
If you are new to purchasing domains, hosting plans, or SEO services, consult a professional for recommendations. Axess Creative is always happy to provide some help too - feel free to get in touch and ask us a question!