When it comes to blogging you might not have thought that your lack of knowledge when it comes to programming languages would ever be an issue. After all – your blog might be about cats, why would you need to know anything about programming languages in order to write about cats? Well – it isn’t for the sake of producing the content that you should at least be familiar with a few programming languages, but rather for the sake of ensuring that your blog gathers more readers, which means that it can potentially become a profitable hobby for you, regardless of whether you write about cats or business.
There are just five programming languages that a blogger should try to be familiar with, in order to ensure that they can provide the best possible optimisation to their content in order to bring more readers and expand their audience more.
HTML is a reasonably basic language, and one that we all know goes into producing websites. Of course, HTML enables you to style your content, and should be something you are already reasonably familiar with. This is the code that is used most commonly for inserting links into your content, giving heading, emphasis, italics, paragraphs, inserting images; all of these basic styling option allow you to customise the appearance of your content allowing for more professional appearances.
Of course because most bloggers use a standard blogging platform link WordPress or Google Blogger they may not feel that they need to understand the basic HTML that goes into displaying that page, however should you later decide to customise your blog more you will need to be able to use at least the basic HTML tags, as these are essential to the customisation and organisation of the content on the page. Familiarising yourself with the basic tags is important to ensuring that you are prepared for these basic changes and requirements when they come.
- Micro data and Metadata
Technically speaking these are HTML, but they’re a sort of subtype with different rules and uses, so for the sake of continuing to be helpful we’ll treat these separately. These are used for optimisation and actually aren’t actually seen by your readers, but rather seen and ‘crawled’ by search engines.
It doesn’t take a great deal of programming knowledge or even SEO knowledge to understand why this might be helpful. There are three main Meta tags that you should be aware of; title, keywords and description – these give you an opportunity to tell search engines exactly what your content is about. Meta data should be provided for each page on a website, as well as for each blog post, each of which gives you a chance to rank higher for the keyword and phrases you have within your Meta data.
The micro data works in a similar way, but surrounds vital information in order to point out important and specific information to search engines. For example; if you put certain micro data tags around a phone number or email address it allows you to tell the search engines that those are the genuine phone number and email address information, which means that they are able to recognise the purpose of the information and display it within the results ‘snippets’. This can make you appear to be a more genuine, reliable source of information, and means that you are more likely to be contacted or your website is more likely to be visited. This is particularly beneficial to events, recipes and news articles, but can be implemented for just about any company or blog.
CSS is the type of programming language we use to influence the appearance of the page. The placement of content, colours, sizes, fonts, patterns – just about everything regarding the appearance can link into a CSS file. Of course if you’re unfamiliar with CSS you may simply find that you use internal CSS code.
CSS allows you to style HTML tags and can’t work on its own, but it can make it easier for you to maintain a consistent appearance in your blog with less effort. Many blogging platforms make use of CSS by giving you a display settings page, where you can change fonts, sizes colours and display options for headings, paragraphs, subtext, images and so on and so forth – all this really does is change the values in the CSS file. Of course while blogging platform might offer you an easy way of accomplishing this it can give you more flexible and attractive solutions if you learn to use CSS on your own, not only will this give you a better idea of how everything on your site actually works, but it also means that you can accomplish more than you would otherwise, because you aren’t limited by default setting options.
Chances are you won’t actually use php at all, so long as you stick to a blogging platform, so you don’t have to know it as such, but it can be useful. PHP is a programming language that provides a connection between your database and your website, now you probably didn’t even know you had a database, but you do; that’s what all of your blog posts are actually stored in (who knew ey?). So – let’s say that something goes wrong, you update your blog, go to take a look and there’s a big, confusing ‘php error’ across the screen. Rather than panicking and thinking you’ve broken your website by putting a php in it, whatever that is, you now know that it isn’t your fault. You’re welcome. You just have to contact your blogging platform and tell them about the problem you’ve encountered.
Seriously though, unless you want to move your blog to your own website and do all of the coding for it yourself then you won’t need to use php. The sad thing is though that if you do want to do that you will need to be very good at php. It’s just one of those languages where you can either use it well or not at all, a little bit of understanding won’t help you too much when actually trying to use it.
Finally – the fun language. Now, you might have thought about adding something a little different, a little snazzy or just a bit more exciting to your blog. Maybe one of those rotating carousels that show the hot topics on your blog, like all the big websites have. Maybe one of those pretty pop-ups that asks the user to subscribe to your blog.
Kate Critchlow is a freelance writer working primarily in the technology industry, covering a range of topics from programming languages to mobile optimising your website.