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What is a URL? [Definition] Uniform Resource Locator

Get well-versed in What is a URL? How does it function, Definition, structure, Syntax, and Working Mechanism? Understand all these points inside this blog post.

19 Dec, 22 by Susith Nonis 10 min Read

List of content you will read in this article:

The most popular method of internet surfing is looking through websites. However, even while it could appear straightforward to open a laptop, double-click the Chrome or Firefox browser, and start surfing, a lot happens behind the scenes which is never seen.

The first step is the web browser, which acts as the process's initial gateway to the internet. A web browser is a straightforward software that shows websites on the internet.

Consider a web browser to be similar to a computer's display. The items that the computer's operating system generates are shown on a screen. The web browser functions something like an internet screen.

An address known as a URL aids the web browser in finding a particular webpage, image, file, or other resources.

The rest of the URL in your browser displays the route to the particular file on that server once your browser has taken the address and converted the domain name to the server's IP address.

A domain name is the overall "address" for the entire website or server, whereas a URL points to a specific file or page.

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a special identifier known as a web address. A URL is made up of numerous elements, just like a physical address, depending on the type of web page and the area of the website being viewed.

Theoretically, every legitimate URL leads to a different resource. These resources could be an image, a CSS file, an HTML page, etc. There are a few exceptions, the most frequent of which is a URL leading to a resource that has either relocated or vanished.

It is the owner of the web server's responsibility to properly maintain the resource that the URL represents as well as the URL itself because the Web server is in charge of both.

A URL is often found in the address bar or Omnibox at the top of the browser window. The URL is always accessible on laptops and desktop computers unless your browser is being shown in full-screen mode.

Most mobile and tablet browsers only display the domain when the address bar is visible, with the URL disappearing as you scroll down. Scroll up the page if the address bar isn't visible.

Tapping on the address bar displays the complete address if only the domain is displayed.

The most common URL types are often absolute and relative. An absolute URL contains all the necessary information from the protocol to the route to resources or arguments.

In contrast, a relative URL merely contains the resources' path.

Here are several other uniform resource locators, listed according to their function:

  • Canonical URLs: If they have duplicate content, website admins might use them. Search engines can be instructed which website to crawl and index by designating one URL as canonical.
  • Callback URLs: When users finish a task on an external system, they refer to a home destination.
  • Vanity URLs: They are simple-to-remember web addresses, also referred to as bespoke short URLs. A vanity URL typically serves as a redirect for a lengthier URL. A vanity URL can be made by website owners using a URL shortening service, such as Bitly, TinyURL, or Short.io. 

URL consists of several components. So, let's delve more deeply into its structure. 

The protocol or scheme

It is used to access an online resource. Protocols include mailto, http, https, file, and ftps.

One can access the resource through the domain name system (DNS) name.

Subdomain

Any phrases or words before the first dot in a URL are referred to as subdomains. The most used type is www which refers to the World Wide Web.

It signifies that a website is reachable over the internet and communicates using HTTP.

In addition, website owners are free to use any phrase as a subdomain as long as it leads to a particular directory from the main domain. The most well-liked choices include "news" and "blog."

Domain name

Users enter a domain name into their browser's address bar to access a website. It comprises a domain name and an extension, like google.com.

Each name is distinct and corresponds to a certain IP address. This specific IP address connects to the server hosting the website. In other words, it makes it easier for people to visit websites.

Domain extension

The part of a website name that comes after the dot is known as a top-level domain (TLD). The most common extension, .com, is used on 53% of all websites.

Path to the resource

The area to the right of the TLD is a route to the resource. It's frequently referred to as the website's folder structure. A web server can direct users to a specific location by using the route to the resource, which provides additional information.

Several paths to resources may reference a page, post, or file. Multiple paths to resources can lead to the same URL.

The forward-slash symbol (/) will demarcate them at that point. The more resource pathways there are in a URL, the more precise the location.

Parameters

A parameter is a query string or a variable in a URL. They are the part of a URL that comes after the question mark. Keys and values are separated in parameters by the equal sign (=). A URL can also contain several variables.

In that instance, each will be separated by the ampersand sign (&).

Syntax describes a set of guidelines. It establishes which element and symbol are permitted in a URL in the case of URL syntax.

Furthermore, only numbers, letters, and ()!$-‘_*+ characters are permitted in uniform resource locators. 

Site owners must convert other characters into programming code to use them. For instance, since URL spaces are prohibited, website owners frequently use the plus sign or hyphens to replace them.

An anchor link, also known as a page jump or fragment identifier, can be found in URLs. The element is denoted by the pound sign (#), which serves as a bookmark for a particular site section.

An HTML file with a page jump causes a web browser to leap to the chosen area. A modern internet browser will play a video or audio file following the anchor's timestamp.

One of the simplest ways to open a URL is to type it into the address box if you know the full website URL. If not, here are a few different approaches you can use: 

Clicking a hyperlink

Links to other HTML files on the internet might be text, icons, or images. Users can spot a hyperlink by moving their mouse cursor over the linked text or image.

Then, a URL link indicating the link's destination will appear at the window's bottom.

Scanning a QR code

QR stands for quick response code and is a digital device-readable black and white barcode you can use to open a URL.  It keeps various data, such as account information, web links, and encryption specifications.

Copying and pasting

Copying and pasting a website address into the address bar would open it if it has no links or QR codes.

You can have your custom directories that link to your page on social networking websites such as Instagram and e-commerce sites like Etsy.

For instance, you can visit the Facebook page for Computer Hope at "facebook.com/computerhope". However, this URL only refers to a portion of your user profile and is not the whole address.

You must purchase a custom domain from a domain name registrar to create a unique URL, such as "computerhope.com". These businesses let you buy domain names linked to your website(s) or directed to any other website of your choice.

Typically, you have to renew your domain once a year. Prices for domains are determined by their marketability and prior usage. The cost is also impacted by domain suffixes like.com, .net, or.org.

Once acquired, domain names can be linked to other websites or moved between registrars while being under your ownership.

A general step-by-step tutorial on purchasing a domain is provided below:

  • Verify the availability of the name. You can use a checker to search for this.
  • Click Search after entering the desired name and extension. Following that, it will give you a list of available names.
  • Continue to the checkout. You will select the registration period in this step. A registrar typically requires a minimum of one year. Despite this, some registrars provide up to ten years of registration.
  • Finish the registration procedure. Your name, email address, address, and other contact details may be required on a setup form that the registrar will ask you to complete after the money has been approved. Make sure you correctly enter all the information.
  • Verify who owns the name. A few minutes after finishing the registration procedure, a verification link will appear on the email you used for registration. You can submit a request from the control panel if it doesn't.

Because the registration is ongoing, each owner must keep track of the dates on which their domains will expire.

A complete web address referring to a particular file on the internet is known as a uniform resource location (URL). A URL, for instance, can direct visitors to a website, a web page, or perhaps an image.

You should know exactly what a URL is, including its domain name, path, and protocols. Keep your site's URLs succinct and to the point and the subject of each page to get the most out of them.

When making adjustments, don't forget to redirect any outdated URLs, especially those that have already gathered backlinks and brought organic traffic to your website.

Users must register a domain with a reliable registrar to build and change a website's URL. Alternatively, you could choose a reputable host offering these registration services.

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Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I venture into the world of Technology, I try to share what I know in the simplest way with you. Not a fan of coffee, a travel addict, and a self-accredited 'master chef'.