What Is a Website URL: Everything You Need to Know

What Is a Website URL: Everything You Need to Know

What Is a Website URL blog image

URLs, or Uniform Resource Locators, are web addresses. They are the web addresses that lead us to the digital content we seek on the internet. It might sound simple, but computer talk can be tricky. You might find yourself asking, what is a website URL?

In this article, we will help you understand everything you need to know about URLs: explaining what they are, how they work, and why they matter.

Whether you are a seasoned web developer, whether you plan on building your own website, or someone who simply enjoys browsing the web, understanding URLs is valuable knowledge.

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  • A URL is a website address
  • There are five essential components that make up a URL
  • There is a difference between absolute and relative URLs
  • URLs have practical uses beyond web browsing
  • The significance of semantic URLs and their benefits

What Is the URL of a Website?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. In simple terms, it is a digital address for a website’s server and web content. It is used to find a specific resource on the internet. When you click on or type in a URL, you are sending your browser on a journey to retrieve that web resource for you.

The following URL is a classic example of what one looks like: https://www.example.com/index.html. Most internet users have seen one before. And, as you can see in this example, there are multiple parts to a URL. So what are those parts?

5 Parts of a Website URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

Now that you understand what a URL is at a high level, let’s dig deeper into the basic elements of a URL structure.

A URL consists of five essential parts, and each part has a specific role in the web addressing system. For example, URLs and domain names are not the same, but many people confuse the two.

The five parts are protocols, domain names, paths, parameters, and anchors.

  1. Protocol

The protocol of a URL is how a site runs, and is the language your browser uses to communicate with web servers. It tells your browser how to retrieve the web resource. Most websites use the two most common protocols that speak to the web server are “http” and “https.”

Http stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Https is the same, but the “S” signifies “secure,” which adds an extra layer of security. The protocol comes before the domain name.

Example: https://

  1. Domain Name

The domain name is the website name, and the user-friendly part of the URL. If it’s a good domain, it’s the part you most easily remember, because it is the name of the specific website.

In programmer terms, the domain name identifies the web server hosting the resource. In easy terms, the domain name has three basic elements, like your address at home, with a house number, street name, and type of street, avenue, road, etc.

Like your home address, a domain name has three parts. The first part of a domain name is the machine or host name, such as “www” which means “world wide web.” Second is the name of the website, like “Google.” The final section of the domain name is the TLD, or top level domain. The most common types of top level domain are .com” or .org.

Example: www.example.com

  1. Path

The path specifies the precise location of the resource you are viewing on the web server. This means that the path is the identifiable element of a specific webpage. It often includes the file or directory structure which leads to the content you wish to navigate to.

Think about it this way. Imagine you are shopping at your favorite online store. First, you will type in the website domain name. That will bring you to the homepage. But, you want to look at shirts for men. So, you navigate to the men’s clothing section. As you click to different places in the website, the URL will change to relay the link path accordingly.

Example: http://www.store.com/mens-clothing/shirts

  1. Parameters

Parameters are optional parts of a URL. This means they are not always present. The purpose of parameters is to provide additional information to the web server. They typically follow a question mark (?).

Lucky for you, unless you are a software engineer, you will not find yourself having to type in parameters yourself.

Example: http://www.example.com/search?query

  1. Anchor

The last part of a URL is the anchor. Anchors, also known as fragments, indicate a specific section of a web page to display. They follow a hash symbol (#).

These days, many sites are one-page websites, or websites are oftentimes one long, scrolling page. Instead of clicking to different web pages, sometimes there are many sections on the same webpage. In this case, an anchor represents the part of the web page that is currently displayed on your screen.

Like parameters, anchors are most often displayed automatically.

Example: http://www.example.com/about#team

Absolute URLs vs. Relative URLs

You know the parts of a URL’s structure. Now you can learn about types of URLs, whether you are creating website or just visiting one.

There are two main types of URLS,

  • Absolute URLs
  • Relative URLs

Knowing the differences between them is crucial for effective web development, navigation, and understanding how individual URLs differ.

What Are Absolute URLs?

An absolute URL is what internet users type when browsing the internet. It provides a complete and independent path to a resource, starting from the web’s root directory. That is a fancy way to say that it is a full URL, one that includes all five parts: the protocol, domain name, path, parameters, and anchor.

Remember, sometimes it will not have parameters, and sometimes it will not have an anchor.

You will most often see an absolute URL, or a full URL, with just the protocol, the domain name, and maybe the path.

Absolute URL Example: http://www.example.com/products/laptops

What Are Relative URLs?

In contrast, a relative URL does not have the most identifiable element of a URL: the protocol or the domain. In simple terms, it is often just the path. It shows the part of the URL that indicates a specific page.

You cannot type in a relative URL and expect it to take you anywhere. They are most commonly used in the back end of a website for internal links that lead the user to a specific web page. In these situations, all the links will have the same domain name, so only the path is needed in the url link.

Relative URL Example: /products/laptops

What’s the Difference Between Absolute and Relative URLs?

The main difference between absolute and relative URLs lies in their specificity. Absolute URLs are whole URLs that provide a complete and self-contained path to a resource. Relative URLs are only the path, and depend on the context of the current page.

Knowing when to use each type is crucial for effective web development and navigation. Unless you are a computer programmer, you will only need to understand absolute URLs.

What Is a Website URL Used for?

Now that you understand the parts of a URL and the different types, it is time to learn what URLs are used for.

The most common use is to navigate to a specific destination on the internet. However, URLs are used for other reasons, too.

  • HTML Links: URLs are used in HTML computer language to create hyperlinks, allowing users to navigate between web pages.
  • Bookmarking: Users can save their favorite web pages by bookmarking their URLs.
  • Content Sharing: URLs make it easy to share web content through email, social media, or messaging apps.
  • SEO: Search engines use URLs to index and rank web pages, making them essential for search engine optimization and search results
  • Web Development: Web developers use URLs when building their own website or web application, to make sure users can navigate freely within the site or app.

How to Find Your Website URL in Web Browsers

Locating a URL is a straightforward process. You can find it in the browser’s address bar of web browsers, at the top of the window. This bar displays the URL of the web page you are on, making it easy to copy, share, or bookmark the page.

Where Is the URL Located?

It is always prominently displayed in the address bar, near the top of web browsers window. Whether you are on Google Chrome, Apple Safari, or any other web browser, it is always at the top of the page.

The Importance of Semantics in URLs

“Semantic URLs” are also known as human-readable URLs. These URLs play a vital role in web design and user experience.

Semantic URLs are designed to be easily understood by humans, providing valuable information about the web content the URL is leading to. Understanding semantics in URLs is particularly important if you are designing your own website’s url, and want to come up with a custom domain.

Here are some benefits of using semantic URLs:

  • Improved User Experience: Clear and descriptive URLs help users better understand the page they’re about to visit, and to find your page in search engines
  • Enhanced SEO: Semantic URLs are more likely to appear in search engine results pages, as they provide context and relevance to the content.
  • Accessibility: Semantic URLs are more accessible to individuals using screen readers or other assistive technologies.
  • Brand Image: Well-structured URLs can contribute to a professional and trustworthy online image.

10 Website URL Examples

All URLs are not created equally. They can be short, and they can be long. They can be complex, and they can be straightforward. What a URL looks like will depend on what kind of site it is, if the site has password protected pages, and where on the site you have navigated to.

Here are 10 examples of website URLs:

  1. http://www.example.com
  2. https://www.amazon.com
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=example123
  4. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL
  5. http://www.github.com/user/repository
  6. https://www.linkedin.com/in/johndoe
  7. http://www.medium.com/@author/article-title
  8. https://www.etsy.com/shop/handcraftedjewelry
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/28/technology/url-explained.html
  10. https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/travelphotography

Final Word: Understanding URLs is important. Do you know why?

Understanding URLs and how they function is necessary for anyone who uses the internet. Whether you are casually surfing the web or building your own website, URLs are the keys that unlock the doors to the internet.

By thoroughly understanding URLs, you can make informed choices when creating and using URLs. Now, you can navigate the web with greater ease and confidence.

Next Steps: What Now?

  • Learn more about website building — Learn how to create a website to kickstart your online presence with the best website builders
  • Dive into the specifics of WordPress – Discover the best WordPress website builders and learn more about optimizing your WordPress site’s permalinks.
  • Explore web hosting options — Discover the best web hosting solutions to ensure your website runs smoothly
  • Manage your domain name — Get your own URL and run your own website by efficiently registering, tracking, and maintaining your domain

Learn More About Website Building

For more in-depth insights into web building and related topics, check out the following articles:

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the URL on a website?

URLs are always displayed in the address bar of the web browser. It is always located at the top of the browser window. No matter what web page is currently displayed on your screen, you will always find it at the top of the window.

Is a URL a web address?

Yes. It is a website’s unique address that tells your computer exactly where you want to go on the internet. Think of it as the address to your house!

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