Understanding URLs: Structure, Types, and Creation
On the vast landscape of the internet, where millions of interconnected servers house hundreds of millions of websites and billions of pages, the URL stands as a fundamental technology that helps simplify web navigation.
Without URLs, there would be no way to separate a single webpage from the 64 billion other web pages present on the internet. In this article, we’ll explore URLs in-depth, explaining their definition, types, structure, and how to create one.
What is a URL?
A URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is a unique address that guides your web browser to a particular webpage, image, document, or other online resource.
When you enter a URL, your browser converts the domain name into the IP address of the server. The rest of the URL provides the route to the exact file or page on that server.
A URL points directly to a specific file or page, whereas a domain name serves as the broader “address” for the entire website or server.
For instance, Bigrock’s complete URL is https://www.bigrock.in/, and entering this into your web browser’s address bar will take you to our website. The same principle applies to https://www.google.com/ and https://www.linux.org/.
However, URLs can become more specific.
For instance, the “/blog/” part of the URL will direct users to our Blog page, and the full URL “/blog/products/security/what-is-url-masking-when-to-consider-it-for-your-website” corresponds to our article on what is URL Masking in the Bigrock blog section.
URLs can also direct users to specific sections within a webpage.
For instance, the following URL, /blog/products/security/what-is-url-masking-when-to-consider-it-for-your-website#types_of_URL_redirection, will take you directly to the types of URL redirection section within the blog.
What is the structure of a URL?
A URL has a specific structure with various components that help identify and access resources on the internet. Let’s explore the different parts of a URL:
1.Scheme (HTTP or HTTPS):
The URL starts with the scheme – a vital network communication protocol connecting web servers and browsers. They send messages, retrieve information via the domain name system (DNS), and deliver it to the browser.
Common examples include HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). The primary difference between both is that HTTPS uses data encryption during transmission. This security protocol protects a website and plays a pivotal role in optimizing a site’s search engine ranking.
Furthermore, HTTPS operates on Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) port number 443, with the added layer of encryption provided by Transport Layer Security (TLS). On the other hand, an HTTP URL utilizes TCP/IP port number 80 for its communication.
A subdomain includes words or phrases that appear before the first dot in a URL. When we think of the World Wide Web, “www” is the most common subdomain type. It indicates that a website is accessible over the internet and communicates using HTTP.
Moreover, website owners can choose any word as a subdomain for website organization, as long as it leads to a certain directory from the main domain. Popular choices often include terms like “blog” and “news.”
For instance, Bigrock’s Knowledge Base page utilizes the subdomain “support.” This results in the URL “support.bigrock.com,” different from the standard “www” subdomain used by bigrock.in.
READ: What Are Subdomains
The domain name is the main part of the URL, and it represents the unique web address. It’s what users enter into their browser’s address bar to access a website. It usually consists of a site name and an extension, such as “bigrock.in.”
The domain extension, or the top-level domain (TLD), follows the domain name. Approximately 53% of all websites utilise .com, making it the most popular TLD.
There are various types of TLDs to consider:
a.Generic TLD (gTLD):
b.Country Code TLD (ccTLD):
Signifies a specific country, territory, or geographical area like .in for India or .at for Austria.
c.Sponsored TLD (sTLD):
Sponsored by specific organisations, such as “.travel” and “.asia.”
d.New gTLD (nTLD):
Introduced after January 12, 2012, and includes extensions like “.online,” “.store,” and “.tech.”
5.Path to the resource:
This part comes after the domain name and TLD and specifies the path to a particular resource on the website. It provides information to the web-server to direct users to a specific location, such as a page, post, or file.
A URL may include multiple paths to resources. In such cases, these paths are separated by the forward-slash (/) sign. The greater the number of paths in a URL, the more specific the indicated location becomes.
Parameters are query strings or URL variables that follow a question mark (?) in the URL. They consist of keys and values separated by equal signs (=) and can include multiple variables separated by ampersand symbols (&). Parameters provide additional information to the web server and are often used for tasks such as translating, searching, filtering, paginating, and tracking.
For instance, in the URL “https://www.bigrock.in/domain-search?domain=example,” the parameter is “?domain=example.”
What is a URL syntax?
URL syntax refers to a set of rules that dictate how a URL should be structured. A typical URL follows this general structure: scheme://subdomain.domain-name.domain-extension/path-to-resource?parameters.
URLs can use letters, numbers, and a limited set of special characters like ()!$-‘_*+. For other characters, website owners must convert them to code. For instance, since a URL can’t contain spaces, site owners can replace them with plus signs, hyphens, or %20.
URLs can also include anchor links (page jumps) denoted by a “#” symbol, which allow users to jump to a specific section within a webpage. For example: /blog/products/security/what-is-url-masking-when-to-consider-it-for-your-website#types_of_URL_redirection
Here, the anchor link #types_of_URL_redirection directs users to a specific section of the web page for easy navigation.
What are the different types of URLs?
URLs come in various forms, but the two most common types are:
Provide complete information, from the protocol to the path to resources and parameters.
They only include the path to resources.
Additionally, depending on the function, there are several other specialised URL types:
Website owners employ these to address duplicate content issues. Designating a URL as canonical informs search engines which specific web address to crawl and index.
These serve as a home destination when users complete a process within an external system.
Also known as custom short URLs, these are user-friendly web addresses that are easy to remember. Typically, they serve as redirects for longer URLs. Site owners can create vanity URLs using web URL shortening tools like Bitly, Short.io, and TinyURL.
Where can you locate a URL?
Typically, a URL is located in the address bar at the top of your web browser’s window. When using laptops or desktop computers, the website’s URL remains continuously visible in the address bar while users scroll through web pages. On mobile devices, the default behavior of browsers leads the URL to disappear once you begin scrolling downward. However, it reappears when you scroll back up.
How to create a URL?
To create a unique URL, follow these steps:
1.Find a reputable registrar to secure a domain name:
A registrar is a company accredited by ICANN for managing domain reservations and renewals. Selecting a reliable domain registrar is crucial for securing your desired web address as they usually offer a seamless process for domain acquisition and management, ensuring a smooth online presence.
2.Choose a domain name:
Start by selecting a unique domain name that represents your website or the specific resource you want to access. This should be a memorable and relevant name that reflects your content or brand.
3.Select a Top-Level Domain (TLD):
The TLD is the last part of the URL (e.g., .com, .org, .net). Choose an appropriate TLD that suits your website’s purpose. Common TLDs include .com for commercial sites, .org for organizations, and .net for network-related entities.
4.Confirm name availability:
Use a domain name suggestion tool to verify if your desired name and extension are available. Simply type in the name and extension, then click “Search” to receive a list of available options.
5.Specify the path:
If you’re creating a URL for a specific page or resource within a website, you’ll need to specify the path or directory. For example, if you want to access a blog post, the path might look like “/blog/post-title.”
6.Add a protocol:
The most common protocol is “http://” or “https://” for secure connections. It specifies the communication protocol to be used when accessing the web resource. “http://” is the standard protocol, while “https://” is secure and encrypted.
7.Combine all elements:
Combine the chosen domain name, TLD, path, and protocol to form the complete URL. For example, a complete URL might look like “https://www.example.com/blog/post-title.”
Once you’ve successfully registered your domain name, you can create a URL by pointing your domain to a web server. This can be accomplished via your registrar’s control panel. Remember, domain registration is not a one-time purchase. So, you should keep track of when your domain expires.
We hope this article helped you understand what a URL is, its structure, types, and how to create one. If you have any queries or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below.