From request to render - a web technology guide

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Time required: 5m
Lesson URL:
Teacher: Will Critchlow

In order to market online effectively, it’s important to have an understanding of how the web works. While we don’t imagine that every search marketer should be a network engineer or be interested in digging deep into network protocols, we believe it is important to understand some of the magic that happens between hitting enter in your browser bar and a web page appearing.

In this module, we will begin to understand the technical underpinning of the web by walking through the technical side of this process. This will take us through:

  • How a URL gets understood by your computer and which parts mean what;
  • How your computer requests a web page and what a request looks like;
  • The basics of network protocols and why secure HTTPS is harder work for a web server;
  • An overview of what happens when your request reaches a web server and how the result is constructed;
  • What a cache is and how it can result in you seeing a different version of a page to what you expected;
  • An overview of what happens when your browser receives the constituent parts of a web page and how it turns them into the page you see;

On a practical level, we intend that you will be better able to understand the various technical ways in which websites (and hence web marketing campaigns) can fail.

For the more visual among us, this presentation gives some visualization of the technology and scale.

Looking up a web address

Time required: 15m
Teacher: Will Critchlow

Requesting a web page

Time required: 30m
Teacher: Will Critchlow

Serving a web page

Time required: 30m
Teacher: Will Critchlow


Time required: 20m
Teacher: Will Critchlow

Browsers and rendering

Time required: 30m
Teacher: Will Critchlow