If you are not entirely sure what the internet is or how a website works read on


We will keep it short and sweet. The topics covered are:

  • What is the internet?
  • What is a website?
  • What is a browser?
  • What is a search engine?
  • What is search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • What is domain registration?
  • What is hosting?
  • Where do I fit in?

What is the internet?

The internet is not a place. There is no building or country or king called “the internet”.  The word internet really means international information network.

This network of computers allow people to talk to each other, share information and transact various business dealings across the world. You become a part of the internet every time you visit a website, shop online or Like a page.

What is a website?

A website is an electronic document created by a person or company that wants to share their information with the world – the internet. Usually this is done by a website designer on behalf of a client.

When you type an email or work on a spreadsheet, you are creating an electronic document. A website in its essence is no different.

What is a browser?

A browser is a program that allows you to view and interact with websites. The most common browsers are Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.

You are using a browser right now to view this website.

What is a search engine?

The most famous search engine is Google. “Google it” has become a way of telling people who to ask for information. A search engine is like a Librarian who knows all the books in the library – you just have to ask.

Without a search engine you will not be able to find a website without knowing its full address, e.g. www.hetjou.co.za. Without a search engine you cannot look for anything online either, e.g. “web designers near me”.

A search engine visits every website on the internet to see what it is about. Then the visited website is listed in the memory of the search engine. When you come along looking for something, the search engine will recommend websites to you.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short, is a set of rules that web designers (should) adhere to. When this set of search engine rules are applied correctly, it helps Google to better understand your content and whom to show it to.

Google and other search engines will happily index a website that adheres to SEO standards. A properly indexed website with decent content will ensure that your website is visible to the public.

With more than 1.8 billion websites, it is plain to see how important SEO is. In short, Google will ignore your website if the content is rubbish and the design is sub-standard.

What is domain registration?

Your website needs a name and address in order to be recognised on the internet. How else will people find you if they don’t know where to go? Let’s take www.hetjou.co.za as an example.

  1.   www. tells your browser this is a website
  2.   hetjou is the name of the website
  3.   .co.za is the address of the website (.co means company and .za means South Africa)

Together these three elements are called a domain name. Domain names have to be registered and are subject to an annual fee.

Domain names are unique, so before you can register it, you should first check if the domain name is available.

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What is hosting?

You don’t want people to connect to your personal computer to see your website. You want a service provider to put the files on their computers, away from your personal things.

The size of the files that make up your website requires you to hire a chunk of memory on a hard drive with an ISP, like Afrihost, MWeb, etc. The ISP (Internet Service Provider) ensures that your website is always available to view. 

Your domain name is linked to the hard drive where your website lives so that search engines and people can view the information you published. 

Hosting is charged for on a monthly basis and it is helpful to know how much hosting space you require.

Where do I fit in?

The internet is a global library

Every person on the planet can use and/or contribute information to the library. 


Every website is a book in the library

Your website is competing with 1.8 billion other websites for attention.

Google is the Librarian

Search engines, like Google, are the librarians of the internet.  Ask about any topic, and the best match will be shown to you.

You are the Author

If you want your book to be available in the library, you actually have to write it first.

This is your story – tell it well. If you write a crappy story, don’t expect miracles!


Editor and Publisher

A website designer will take your story and rework it into a website.

Once it is ready, it will be submitted to the library and if it is any good, the Librarian will happily recommend it to visitors.


This concludes our crash course on websites and the internet. We hope you found the information interesting, easy to understand and useful. 

Please leave your questions and comments for us to respond. Feel free to share this information using the social media links below.

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