In this digital age, we effortlessly surf the internet, clicking links and exploring websites. However, have you ever stopped to wonder what those different strings of characters in your web browser’s address bar actually mean? They are called URLs, which means uniform resource locator. Typically, URLs are the key to accessing the web’s treasure of vast knowledge. Understanding what a URL, its components, and its types is can be valuable for beginners for a seamless online journey.
In this beginner guide, we’ll explain everything there is to know about a website URL, its parts, types, working, and why they are essential for your online experience.
So, without further delay, let’s get started!
What is a URL?
A URL, which stands for uniform resource locator, is a web address that helps you to navigate a specific website on the internet. It’s simply a key to navigating and accessing information from the web. A URL is made up of several elements, including the protocol, subdomain, domain, extension, and more, which we’ll discuss later.
Every website address is unique and is determined by its uniform resource locator. It’s notable that every web page, post, image, and product on a site has a specific URL, which is generated by adding characters and parameters after the main website address.
What are the different parts of the URL?
Typically, a URL is made up of several parts, which we are going to discuss in this section. The common structural parts of a uniform resource locator are protocol, subdomain, domain, and path.
1. Protocol: HTTP or HTTPS
A typical URL starts with the protocol, such as HTTP or HTTPS, which establishes the rules and procedure for transferring data between the web server and the users’ web browser. They send messages, retrieve information, and then send it back to the web browser.
HTTP stands for ‘hypertext transfer protocol,’ & HTTPS stands for ‘hypertext transfer protocol secure.’ The primary difference between the two is that HTTPS creates a secure connection and encrypts the data transfer process.
Using a secure protocol is essential for website security and plays a key role in improving a website’s search engine ranking.
If you intend to improve SERP ranking and user trust, it’s crucial to use HTTPS protocol on your website.
Note: You can encrypt your connection using an SSL certificate.
SSL stands for ‘Secure Sockets Layer,’ which keeps an internet connection secure.
At Hostkicker, we offer free SSLs with all our Affordable hosting plans.
A subdomain is anything that comes after the protocol and prior to a domain name in the URL. Websites can use any word or phrase as their subdomain, which can be used to organize different sections of your website.
Many sites use WWW as their subdomain, which simply means that the website is accessible via the internet. Other common subdomains used by websites are ‘blog’ and ‘news.’
3. Domain Name
A domain name is the third important part of a uniform resource locator, which is the human-friendly name of a website associated with a physical IP address. It helps users easily navigate a website on the internet. For instance, Hostkicker.com is our domain name.
When a user types a domain name into the web browser, it automatically adds the correct protocol.
There are various types of domain names, such as top-level domain (TLD), second-level domain names (SLD), and more.
You can find more about domain names in our easy guide linked here.
4. Domain Extension
Domain extension, also called top-level domain (TLD), comes after the domain name in a URL such as .com or .org. in, .net are some commonly used domain extensions.
5. Resource Path
Resource Path is a part of a URL that comes after the domain extension or TLD in a URL and typically defines the specific file’s location within a website. The path is generally used to navigate to a particular page or a specific file on a website. A resource path is usually composed of different folders or segments of a website, which are generally separated by a forward slash (/). The more paths in a URL, the more specific the file location.
6. URL Parameter
A parameter in a URL comes after the path, which is often known as a query string that comes after the question mark. They provide additional information and are used for multiple purposes.
A URL can have multiple parameters, which are usually separated by the ‘&’ symbol. Learn more about URL parameters in our detailed guide linked here.
Types Of URL
Understanding different types of URLs is crucial when working with this in SEO, content management, and web development.
Static vs. Dynamic URLs:
- Static URLs:
- Static URLs are fixed and unchanging web addresses.
- They don’t rely on a database or content management system to generate the content.
- These often include descriptive keywords and are more SEO-friendly.
- Example: “https://www.example.com/products/laptops/apple-macbook-pro.”
- Dynamic URLs:
- Dynamic URLs are generated dynamically, often by web applications, databases, or content management systems.
- They may contain parameters and look less user-friendly.
- Example: “https://www.example.com/products?category=laptops&product=apple-macbook-pro.”
Absolute vs. Relative URLs:
1. Absolute URLs:
- Absolute URLs provide the complete path to a resource on the web, including the protocol (http/https), domain, and resource path.
- They link to external websites and resources.
- They can help find a file from any location on the web.
- Example: “https://www.example.com/images/image.jpg.”
2. Relative URLs:
- Relative URLs specify the path to a resource in relation to the current page’s location.
- They are often used for internal links within a website.
- They do not include the protocol or domain.
- You can only use it to find a file if you are on the same website.
- Example: “/images/image.jpg” (when the current page is on “https://www.example.com/”).
Difference between URL, Permalink, and Slug
URL, permalink, and slug are related concepts, but they serve different purposes in the context of web content and links.
URL: A URL is a complete address that determines the location of a resource on the web. It includes various components, such as the protocol, the domain, and the resource path. It provides the full path to the content and typically contains a variety of characters and symbols.
Permalink: A permalink is a specific type of URL that is designed to be a permanent and unchanging link to specific content, such as a blog post, article, or page on a website. They are often used in CMS like WordPress. Permalink ensures that the link to specific content remains the same even if it is moved, updated, or reorganized on the website.
Slug: A slug is a part of a URL that identifies a specific page within a website. It’s typically the user-friendly portion of the URL that describes the page’s content. They usually consist of lowercase letters, hyphens, and words relevant to the content, making the URL more readable and descriptive and helping create SEO-friendly URLs.
Example: In the above example, this is the slug: /blog/post-title-what-is-a-URL.
What are URL Shorteners, and When to Use Them
URL shortening is a method web admins use to shorten a long web page address into a shorter, more user-friendly way to access the same web page. Also, it simplifies the process of tracking and analyzing user interactions with the link.
URL shorteners are the tools that allow you to easily shorten your URLs. On social media platforms and emails, sharing shortened web addresses is valuable to improve the user experience and provide users with valuable details.
There are several URL shorteners available in the market, such as Goog.le Bit.ly and Tinyurl.com, which help you create a connection between your original and new short URL.
Should you use URL shorteners for every URL?
Well, You should not use URL shorteners for every URL. If your URL is already concise and conveys its message effectively, it’s generally more useful and suggested to use the original URL.
In addition, it’s also recommended not to use the shortened URLs for hyperlinks. This is because, in hyperlinks, the URL is already hidden behind the anchor text or link text.
You can use URL shorteners for complex and long URLs that you want to make user-friendly and more manageable. Also, we recommend using reputable URL shorteners to enhance your SEO.
Lastly, it’s necessary to create and use SEO-friendly for your site. This will help you gain SEO benefits and attain higher positions in search results. Following are the effective tips to create useful URLs.
How do you create SEO-friendly URLs for your website?
URLs are a valuable part of a website and play a crucial role in providing improved user experience and gaining improved search engine positions. There are several steps you can use to make your URL SEO-friendly. Incorporating the following practices into your website’s URL structure can help improve its search engine visibility and make the URLs more user-friendly, enhancing the overall user experience.
- Add Relevant Keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords that describe the content of the page into your URL. This aids search engines to understand what the page is about and can enhance your search engine rankings.
- Use Hyphens, Not Underscores: When separating words in your URL, use hyphens (-) instead of underscores or spaces. Search engines recognize hyphens as word separators, making the URL more readable and SEO-friendly.
- Use Lowercase Letters: Consistently use lowercase letters in your URLs. This practice ensures uniformity and prevents issues related to case sensitivity.
- Keep URL Short: Short URLs are not only more user-friendly but also easier for search engines to process. Avoid long, convoluted URLs with unnecessary parameters or strings of characters.
- Use Static URLs: Whenever possible, create static URLs instead of dynamic ones with query parameters. Static URLs are more straightforward and preferred for SEO purposes.
- Avoid Using Stop Keywords: Stop keywords are common words like “a,” “an,” “the,” “in,” etc. When indexing pages, search engines often ignore these words. Avoid using them in your URLs to keep them concise and meaningful.
- Reduce the Number of Folders in URLs: A logical folder structure is beneficial for organizing your website, but too many nested folders in URLs can make them lengthy and complex. Consider simplifying your URL structure by reorganizing or shortening the path to resources.
Create user-friendly URLs to boost your SEO!
In conclusion, understanding uniform resource locator is an essential aspect of navigating the vast landscape of the web. We’ve delved into the core components of a Uniform Resource Locator, dissecting its structure to reveal the protocol, domain, and resource path that guides us to our digital destinations.
Moreover, we’ve explored the diverse types of URLs that exist, from static and dynamic addresses to absolute and relative links, each serving a distinct purpose in the online realm.
For a website, the significance of crafting SEO-friendly URLs is valuable. These user-friendly, descriptive web addresses enhance the user experience. In addition, it plays a pivotal role in search engine rankings and discoverability. Thus, be sure to create human-readable and user-friendly URLs to improve your SEO and, ultimately, your search engine rankings.