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There are a lot of acronyms on the internet, and one of the most common ones is URL. But what is a URL? In this blog, we’ll answer the question “what is a URL?”. On top of that, we’ll break down the most important parts of a URL and why the design of a URL is so important.

What is a URL?

Let's build That Site URL

A URL is an acronym that stands for “Uniform Resource Locator”. These are unique identifiers that are used to locate resources on the internet. Think about when you are typing your favourite blog or website into Google. For example, the URL of our website is https://www.letsbuildthatsite.com. However, a URL is not only used for website addresses but also anything that is connected to the internet with a fixed location. A good example is FTP directories.

The anatomy of a URL

A URL consists of 5 parts. The best way to examine the anatomy of a URL is through an example, therefore, we’ll break down a random URL into the following components.

1. Scheme

Scheme URL

So what is the Scheme actually? Well if you take a look at your address bar, you’ll often see a tiny lock icon on the left side followed by https:// or http://. That part is called the Scheme.  

The Scheme is used to tell web servers which protocol to use when it accesses a page on a website. Protocols include HTTP, HTTPS, FTP (to transfer files between a client and a server), mailto: (to see a client’s mail) and others. However, the most commonly used Scheme is HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The colon (:) is called a URL Scheme Separator, and the paired slashes (//) defines the start of the local hostname.

What it does, is that it tells your current web browser to encrypt any information you enter onto a page, such as passwords, credit card information and you name it. This is very important because it prevents cybercriminals from accessing these. So if you own a website, then make sure to implement HTTPS so that you can protect your website’s visitors and rank higher in Google.

2. Subdomain:

Subdomain url example

The next part is called the Subdomain, and it indicates which specific page of your website the web browser should navigate. To make it easier for you to understand, picture your website as a hotel, and your Subdomains are the hotel rooms. Subdomains are great because they can be used for organisational purposes or even to increase your rankings in Google.

3. Second-level Domain:

Second level domain example

Every website has a unique name. This unique name is called the Second-Level Domain (SLD). The Second-Level Domain helps web browsers when they are searching for a specific brand’s website. For example, if you love to watch basketball and you want to watch up basketball online, then you would probably type in “www.nba.com”, and you’ll be brought to the official website of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

4. Top-level Domain

Top-Level-domain example

A Top-Level Domain is the last part of your domain name, it is located after the last dot. Because it is located in the ending, it can also be called a domain suffix. There are different types of Top-Level Domains such as .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, and much more.

5. Sub-directory

Subdirectory url voorbeeld

Lastly, the Subdirectory is the part of the URL that houses a specific subset of content. It helps web browsers know on which particular part of the website they are on. For example, if you own an online pet shop that sells dog supplies, cat supplies and snake supplies, your website URL could look like “https://shop.yourpetshop.com/dogsupplies”. Where “dogsupplies” would be the Subdirectory.

Why is the design of a URL so important?

Now that you know what a URL is, let’s start talking about why it’s important to have a well-designed URL. A well-designed URL can be the difference between ranking number 1 or 100 in Google’s search engine’s. Now let’s dive into things. 

A well thought out, and optimised URL offers a better search experience for your website’s visitors. It also empowers search engine bots to understand what your webpage is trying to show.

1. Keep your URLs clean and clear

Keep your URLs clean and clear: What do we exactly mean by “clean and clear”? Well, imagine yourself typing in a URL into the address bar. No one will remember “www.ychstgdhdb.com/poptop/”, but you would remember “www.example.com”. You want your users to type in your website with ease. So take your time, and do your research. Sometimes less is more.

2. Use keywords in your URLs

Keywords are very important for search engine bots and your visitors. For example, petstore.com/dog/food gives an indication to your viewers and search engines that this page is about dog food. But if you use petstore.com/category123/4578 then your visitors and search engines won’t understand. However, do not ever use too many keywords. This is called keyword stuffing, and Google will penalise your website for this, because Google sees this as spam.

3. Separate words with hyphens

People seem to forget is that Google is a bot, so if something is written unclear, it will be pretty hard for Google to understand what a webpage is trying to translate. For example, yourexample.com/sportequipment would be better understood if it were written like yourexample.com/sport-equipment.

4. Keep mobile and desktop URLs consistent

Some people choose to use a separate website for mobile. That’s fine as long as you keep the URLs on each website as consistent as possible with those of the desktop. This makes it easier to add rel alt tags on the desktop page that will point to the mobile pages. Additionally, you can host your mobile site on a subdomain which will then allow you to keep the URL paths identical.

What is a url by let's Build That Site

Conclusion

To conclude, URLs are one of the most most commonly used technology concepts today. They are more complex than they seem at first. It is important for you to become familiar with the basics of URLs and their structures. This will be beneficial for you, your visitors and search engines. 

Thank you!

We would like to thank you personally for taking the time to read our blog. You can share this blog with your friends, colleagues or family so that they can also learn the importance of URLs.

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By Kevin Jefferson

My name is Kevin Jefferson and I am the founder of Let’s Build That Site. Our goal is to help business increase their online position.

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