What Is a URL? Everything You Need to Know

By: | Updated: July 24, 2021

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Among the first things to ask when building a website is, what is a URL?

As a unique identifier that brings traffic to your site, URLs are far more important than many first-time bloggers actually realize.

A few key components to a URL can make a significant difference in website traffic, branding, and more.

What Is a URL?

Before we get into the most important aspects of a URL, let’s first discuss its definition.

The term is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator and is attributed to every individual website on the internet.

There are different parts of a Uniform Resource Locator, and various factors influence each component.

Not only are websites given a URL, but individual pages are as well.

For example, https://bloggingtips.com/ would bring you to the main landing page of the site.

However, the URL, https://bloggingtips.com/how-to-start-a-blog/ would bring you to a different page.

Every website requires a URL to be indexed, but it’s also necessary for search engine optimization, easy navigability, and more.

Knowing a little bit of pertinent information about how URLs are assigned and how they work can help.

What Are the Components of a URL?

When looking at the structure of a Uniform Resource Locator, there are three standard components.

These are referred to as the protocol, the domain, and the path.

The Protocol/Scheme

Let’s use our original example of https://bloggingtips.com/ as an example for this guide.

When you look at the URL, you’ll notice the https:// at the very beginning.

This component is often overlooked, and, likely, you don’t even type it into your browser’s address bar.

However, it’s imperative, as it tells your internet browser how to connect to a website’s server.

Once connected, the browser can then receive information and send it for you to review.

Without the protocol, your computer wouldn’t be able to read the webpage and provide information.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the most commonly used protocol on the internet.

However, you’ve also likely seen HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Source).

HTTPS is nearly identical to HTTP, but the significant difference is that it’s far more secure.

You’re more likely to find pages that take payment information, such as online retailers and banks, have HTTPS protocols.

Depending on the browser you use, it’s pretty easy to determine what type of protocol a site uses.

For example, in Google Chrome, you’ll notice a tiny little padlock to the left of the URL that signifies your connection is secure.

The Domain/Authority

The next part of a URL is the domain, also referred to as the domain name.

When it comes to branding and brand awareness, this component is by far the most popular because it’s how your site is identified.

Using our previous example, the domain of your blog would be bloggingtips.com.

When a domain name is typed into the address, it most often directs you to the site’s main landing page.

It surely sounds simple enough, but did you know that domain names also have two separate components?

The first part is the name, and the second is the TLD (top-level domain), or designator, which is typically .com, .org, or .net.

If you’ve ever shopped around for a domain name, you’ve likely noticed a difference in the pricing because of TLDs.

Interestingly, some domains are more sought-after than others because they are easier to remember and identify.

For example, .com top-level domains are bound to be more expensive than .org in many instances.

It’s important that you first search all of the potential options for your domain name before registering it.

This process will help make sure you’re getting a recognizable domain name for an affordable price.

Also, it’s good to consider a domain in the country you do the most business in or the audience you want to reach.

For example, an Irish bakery wouldn’t be as likely to use .com as a domain as they would .ie.

Depending on the type of business you own, you may have to use country-specific identifiers as well.

Uniquely, it’s also possible to choose domains that fit within a specific niche. A great example of this is to consider video game streaming.

Many popular Twitch streamers use the TLD “.gg” for their websites instead of “.com.”

“GG” is a commonly used term in gaming that refers to “good game,” a show of great sportsmanship after a match.

The Path

The final component of a URL is known as the path, which is where the URL will take you when entered.

As we discussed earlier, the path https://bloggingtips.com/ takes you to the landing page.

To change the path, the URL would typically have other words added after the TLD, such as learn-to-blog.

Adding these extra words tells the URL to direct the user to another page on the site.

If you’re currently using a blogging platform, such as WordPress, this process is often completed for you.

For example, when you create a new page, a unique URL path is automatically assigned to the page.

Another significant benefit of in-depth blogging platforms like WordPress is they allow for customization.

Bloggers can change the appearance of specific paths to make them more identifiable.

For example, instead of having http://www.bloggingtips.com/7463834, you can choose a specific text permalink.

Why Do URLs Matter?

When starting your first blog, your URLs are likely one of the last things you think about.

You’re already preoccupied with inputting your content, adding videos, and ensuring your site design is immaculate.

However, URLs can be a contributor to your SEO (search engine optimization) ranking or score.

1. Better User Experience

There’s no doubt that it’s far easier to remember a URL if it’s accurate to the page’s title or resource.

For example, https://bloggingtips.com/how-to-start-a-blog/ relates directly to the content all about writing blogs.

However, if you had a URL like http://www.bloggingtips.com/page3, it wouldn’t be nearly as recognizable.

When potential visitors see a clear and easy-to-read URL, they are far more likely to click on the link.

You’ll find that they have the added reassurance that the content on the site is what they’re looking for.

2. Linking

Having easy-to-use links makes them significantly easier for you and your audience to share.

If your URLs are too lengthy and don’t contain important information, they can feel too hefty and cluttered.

As an example, https://bloggingtips.com/how-to-start-a-blog/ is concise, making it easy to share on social media.

In comparison, http://www.bloggingtips.com/title/ue3746483/?ref_=uehd_blog is too convoluted.

When you have a short and easy-to-read URL, it serves as an excellent anchor text that can be shared easily.

You’ll probably increase your traffic by simplifying the structure of your links.

3. Search Engine Rankings

Although URLs aren’t a substantial contributor to search engine results, they can help.

Of course, the content you put on your site is a far more significant contributor.

Still, the perfectly formatted link can help add authority to your domain and can be used for keywords.

Adding keywords to your URL can significantly improve your site’s visibility, which is something to consider.

However, it’s important that you still ensure they are easy to read, or it can affect you negatively.

You’ll always want to put user experience first rather than jamming in as many keywords as you can.

Final Thoughts

Taking your URLs into account is the first step to establishing a professionally styled blog with authority.

You’ll want to showcase your professionalism by having clear and concise links for your audience to use and share.

We guarantee that once you answer what is a URL, the more traffic you can attract.

by Brett Helling
Brett has been starting, growing, and monetizing websites since 2014. While in college, he began to learn about digital marketing. After graduating, he continued to build a diverse portfolio of websites while working a full time job. After years of building the portfolio on the side, he made the jump to run his websites full time.

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