You might have come across a lot of acronyms and abbreviations while you would have been online, just surfing the web. People online use a lot of abbreviations. And among the many out there is the acronym ‘URL,’ which you must have come across a million times. While most of you might have a piece of knowledge about the use of a URL; the link or the web address as we call it, you might not know it’s working in detail and what the parts of a URL mean.
This article covers all that you need to know about your website’s URL. We will also break down the URL into five parts for you and explain how each piece relates to your site. This will give you a more extensive idea about how the URL of your website, works for your website.
What is a website URL?
URL or the Uniform Resource Locator is the location of a specific page, website or a blog on the Internet. It is merely the location of something on the Internet can go there using the structure that is given. In other words, URL’s are website addresses that are connected to the Internet with their fixed location.
This works as follows:
If you enter a URL in your web browser, your web browser will take you to that page or website. For example, if you enter https://themegrill.com/wordpress-themes/ in your web browser, you will be taken to the exact page so you can go through all the WordPress themes present in Theme Grill, but if you had entered only the website URL, i.e. https://themegrill.com/, it would have taken you to the homepage of the website Theme Grill.
A lot of people don’t give a heed to URLs. They memorize the one they want to visit. But if you run your website, you need to understand the meaning of URL. URL’s are known to be secret weapons to Search Engine Optimization and your website’s security. They can build or break your advertising strategies. Discussing ahead! It is time we head to understand the meaning of URL and all its parts.
QUICK FACT: The “godfather” of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, and his Internet Engineering Task Force group were the men behind the creation of the URL. They created it in 1994.
Detailed Guide to Understand URL and its parts.
To understand how the URL of a website is helpful for a website, we will have to go through all the five essential parts of the URL. That will make it easy to understand the meaning of each, one by one. We are sure this will answer your question, “What is a URL?”
1. Protocol/ Scheme:
Let’s consider the previously used URL again as an example: https://themegrill.com/wordpress-themes/
The first part is usually the part that most of us miss. The part where we see Http:// or https://. This always comes at the beginning of every URL, but we miss to understand the meaning. This element, however, is called the protocol of the URL and it is more important to us than you think.
The protocol is supposed to tell your browser to how to interact with the website’s server. This will help to retrieve information and showcase the website. An HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and an https (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) are the protocols that enable your URL to work as soon as the browser reads them.
While you might think, HTTP is an older version, let us clear out that it’s not the case. A lot of websites still use HTTP and are working just fine. It’s the first version. Https is the next version that most of the internet users are getting inclined to.
Now, you might be thinking, “If HTTP and HTTPS are the same, why do people prefer to work on https more?”
Well, the answer is quite simple! Https is a more secure version of the protocol. It does the same thing as HTTP, but it also encrypts the data that is being exchanged back and forth between the website and the server and secures it. That is also why https is given a green security padlock.
You can also implement HTTPS easily to your WordPress website, all you’ll need for that will be a Let’s Encrypt certificate and an SSL plugin (that you can find in your WordPress plugin directory.)
2. Domain Name:
Let’s go back to the same URL example and study the domain name: https://themegrill.com/wordpress-themes/
This part, the domain name is the most identifiable pf the URL. Does everyone know what a domain name is? The domain name, in this case, is ‘themegrill.com’ (the website name.) Voila!
A domain name is generally the identifier. It is the name that brings you to the website and adds ahead of the protocol. Of course, it is made of two smaller parts, the name of the website which is called the ‘Domain Name’ and the latter which is .com or any other is called the TLD or Top- Level Domain. Some websites even use .in, .org or .net as designators.
If you are building a new website or are planning on creating one, you need to make sure that the domain name is done right. Like we mentioned before, the name of the domain name is the one that makes or breaks the blogging game for a user.
If you do not choose your domain name, keeping in mind that it’s needed to be crisp and easy to remember, you might lose a chance of building a reliable website. There are even generators available online to help you create names for your website and see which titles are available.
A lot of the times the TLD is essential too. It might take you a lot of time to decide the domain name but in that haste don’t ever fret and forget to choose the right top-level domain for your website. A lot of users online prefer .com, and that may be the right choice.
Reason: It is easy to remember, and most users use it. However, you, as the website owner, can also decide which TLD t use according to the niche of your website. There are a plethora of choices to explore from, in case you need to choose another TLD.
3. Path or the File Path
In case you want to visit a website and navigate further, that is your choice, but if you’re going to land to a particular page, there is one specific path to choose. This path is what leads the visitor first to your website then to that specific post they want to go through.
It looks like our very own example, https://themegrill.com/wordpress-themes/
The path here is ‘wordpress-themes.’ It is called a URL’s slug sometimes, but in pure WordPress language, it’s known as the path. Unlike other parts of the URL’s where you might not be able to customize or personalize a lot, the path is surely the portion that you can write like the way you like.
But these permalinks are to be given a lot of minds to. This is because this is where you can implement your SEO skills and help your blog or post to reach more people. Not just that, permalinks are the ones that make your content reachable and unreachable to your readers.
Choosing the right slug for your URL can boost the reach of your article and traffic to your blog post as well. This will attract more potential readers to your website, and customers might stick.
Some URL’s also includes a string of characters right after the path that that begins with a question mark and continue with a string of parameters. You might have noticed this string of parameters every time you should have been using Google or YouTube.
These strings of characters or numbers and symbols that come after the path are called parameters. The parameter string is supposed to be confusing to the human user mind as it is the critical user information that is only meant to be understood by the server.
Sometimes instead of the parameters, after the path comes to the anchor. Anchor in the URL tells your browser to go to a specific portion of the page. It begins with a hashtag that is placed before the Anchor of the URL. The hashtag is used to direct your browser to a precise part of a long page. It is just like a bookmark.
How should URL’s be Formulated always (RULES TO FOLLOW)
The right protocol should come first. In case it’s an HTTP website, use HTTP otherwise use https. But choose the right one.
Then comes a colon (:) and two forward slashes (//).
Later, the name/ location of the address of the server or the domain, i.e. the domain name followed by another forward-slash (/)
Lastly, the precise location of the page or post that the user is targeting.
Here’s how the URL is formulated.
NOTE: URL’s don’t actually need ‘www’ added to them while addressing to the website. This was just a custom during the early days of the Internet with the World Wide Web and all its hype. Even if you enter the website’s address without www, it will direct you to the website, without fail. You can try it if you want!
If not for this article, you might have always been left wondering, “What is a URL?” And you would have thought of it as a complex structure with parts that are really hard to understand. We hope this article should have cleared out everything about the URL and the structure of URL for you.
Now that you are familiarized with the structure of the URL, you can make smart moves when it comes to building your own websites and finding a new domain name for it. Only now will you be able to understand the best choices for your website.
Recalling the basic structure of the URL since it’s the conclusion:
- The protocol, whether it’s HTTP or HTTPS.
- The domain name, including the TLD that defines the website and gives it a unique name.
- The path that leads to the specific post, page or category.
- The parameters or the strings of characters that show how the search engines will handle the parts of your website based on the URL.
- The Anchor that directs the reader to the specific part of the page or the post.
Keep in your mind that these are the most common and important parts of a URL. While there are many other, the five components that we have mentioned are the most important to understand. They will give you the most information about the website.
We hope we have answered all the questions!