In Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville write, "We define content broadly as 'the stuff in your Web site.' This may include documents, data, applications, e-services, images, audio and video files, personal Web pages, archived e-mail messages, and more. And we include future stuff as well as present stuff."
While the Internet began with a U.S. Government research project in the late 1950s, the web in its present form did not appear on the Internet until after Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at the European laboratory (CERN) proposed the concept of linking documents with hypertext. But it was not until Mosaic, the forerunner of the famous Netscape Navigator appeared, that the Internet became more than a file serving system.
The use of hypertext, hyperlinks, and a page-based model of sharing information, introduced with Mosaic and later Netscape, helped to define web content, and the formation of websites. Today, websites are categorized mainly as being a particular type of website according to the content a website contains.
The page concept
Web content is dominated by the "page" concept, its beginnings in an academic setting, and in a setting dominated by type-written pages, the idea of the web was to link directly from one academic paper to another academic paper. This was a completely revolutionary idea in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the best a link could be made was to cite a reference in a typewritten paper and name that reference either at the bottom of the page or on the last page of the academic paper.
When it was possible for any person to write and own a Mosaic page, the concept of a "home page" blurred the idea of a page. It was possible for anyone to own a "Web page" or a "home page" which in many cases the website contained many physical pages in spite of being called "a page". People often cited their "home page" to provide credentials, links to anything that a person supported, or any other individual content a person wanted to publish.
HTML web content
Even though we may embed various protocols within web pages, the "web page" composed of "HTML" (or some variation) content is still the dominant way whereby we share content. And while there are many web pages with localized proprietary structure (most usually, business websites), many millions of websites abound that are structured according to a common core idea.
Blogs are a type of websites that contain mainly web pages authored in HTML (although the blogger may be completely unaware that the web pages are composed using HTML due to the blogging tool that may be in use). Millions of people use blogs online; a blog is now the new "home page", that is, a place where a persona can reveal personal information, and/or build a concept as to who this persona is. Even though a blog may be written for other purposes, such as promoting a business, the core of a blog is the fact that it is written by a "person" and that person reveals information from her/his perspective. Blogs have become a mighty weapon used by content marketers who desire to increase their site's traffic, as well as, rank in the search engine result pages (SERPs). Modern research from Technorati shows that blogs now outrank social networks for consumer influence (Technorati's 2013 Digital Influence Report data).
Search engine sites are composed mainly of HTML content, but also has a typically structured approach to revealing information. A Search Engine Results Page (SERP) displays a heading, usually the name of the search engine itself, and then a list of websites and their web addresses. The web addresses are listed by their order of relevance according to the search query. Searchers typically type in keywords or keyword phrases to find or search what they are looking for on the web.
Discussion boards are sites composed of "textual" content organized by HTML or some variation that can be viewed in a web browser. The driving mechanism of a discussion board is the fact that users are registered and once registered can write posts. Often a discussion board is made up of posts asking some question to which other users may provide answers to those questions.
Ecommerce sites are primarily composed of textual material and embedded with graphics displaying a picture of the item(s) for sale. However, there are extremely few sites that are composed page-by-page using some variant of HTML. Generally, webpages are formed as they are being served from a database to a customer using a web browser. However, the user sees the mainly text document arriving as a webpage to be viewed in a web browser. Ecommerce sites are usually organized by the software we identify as a "shopping cart".
A wider view
While there are many millions of pages that are predominantly composed of HTML, or some variation, in general we view data, applications, E-services, images (graphics), audio and video files, personal web pages, archived e-mail messages, and many more forms of file and data systems as belonging to websites and web pages.
While there are many hundreds of ways to deliver information on a website, there is a common body of knowledge of search engine optimization that needs to be read as an advisory of ways that anything but the text should be delivered. Currently, search engines are text-based and are one of the common ways people using a browser locate sites of interest.
When talking of SEO or Search Engine Optimization, web content is divided into basic formats considering the structure of present-day websites. They are:
- Non-Template Web Content
In this case, a website provides a blank space where web content is written in the form of paragraphs and bullets. Information written in these pages embellishes the services and amenities provided by a company. Non-template content is mainly used because it has a lower quantity of info graphics involved and can be customized. This reduces page load times.
- Template Web Content
Template web content are those where information is written as per specific formats provided on a web page. Specific sections of web content are written within fixed spaces. This web content includes graphics and structural design. Template web content is more prevalent among modern websites.
Because websites are often complex, a term "content management" appeared in the late 1990s identifying a method or in some cases a tool to organize all the diverse elements to be contained on a website. Content management often means that within a business there is a range of people who have distinct roles to do with content management, such as content author, editor, publisher, and administrator. But it also means there may be a content management system whereby each of the different roles is organized to provide their assistance in operating the system and organizing the information for a website. A business may also employ various content protection measures, which are typically technologies used to attempt to frustrate copying without permission.
Even though a business may organize to collect, contain, and represent that information online, content needs organization in such a manner to provide the reader (browser) with an overall "customer experience" that is easy to use, to be sure the site can be navigated with ease, and that the website can fulfill the role assigned to it by the business, that is, to sell to customers, to market products and services, or to inform customers.
Geotargeting of web content in Internet marketing and geomarketing is the method of determining the geolocation (the physical location) of a website visitor with geolocation software and delivering different content to that visitor based on his or her location, such as country, region/state, city, metro code/ZIP code, organization, Internet Protocol (IP) address, ISP, or other criteria.
A typical example for different content by choice in geo-targeting is the FedEx website at FedEx.com where users have the option to select their country location first and are then presented with a different site or article content depending on their selection.
- Article marketing
- Bulletin board system
- Content (media)
- Content farm
- Content management
- Digital marketing
- Dynamic web page
- Media transparency
- Mobile content
- Separation of presentation and content
- Site map
- Social software
- Tim Berners-Lee
- Web content lifecycle
- Web content management
- Web content voting
- Web design
- Web development
- Web document
- Web literacy
- Web service
- Web resource
- Web syndication
- Web template
- Website governance
- World Wide Web Consortium (Web standards)