What is a web address?
A web address, or a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), is a unique reference that directs you to a specific page, file or photo on the internet. Without a web address, users cannot access a webpage.
Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee developed the concept in 1994 to make the internet more accessible. He wanted to make the internet as user-friendly as possible, so he invented the web address to act as the standard access point for each individual webpage.
Your web address establishes your online presence when creating a website. Without a web address, users can’t visit your website.
Components of a web address
Every web address follows the same format. Let’s use this page’s URL as an example to explore the individual components:
Scheme: According to IBM, the scheme “identifies the protocol to be used to access the resource on the Internet.” The two most common schemes are http and https. This page uses https, meaning it has a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate.
Domain name: A domain name is the website name correlating with its internet protocol (IP) address. The domain name indicates which connecting server the internet must use to locate the webpage. It also acts as the website’s primary name.
Domain extension: Also referred to as a top-level domain, a domain extension is the letters that follow the domain name. In our case, the domain extension is .com—the most common extension. The domain extension helps servers understand how to translate the web address into an IP address. Other common domain extensions include: .edu, .org, .gov and .net.
Path: The path follows the domain extension. This information specifies which webpage of the primary website the user wants to visit.
Subdomain: If you want to divide your website to improve navigation, you can create a subdomain—an addition to your web address that precedes the domain name.
This page does not sit under a subdomain. However, if the encyclopedia was a subdomain, it might look like this:
Types of web address
There are two types of URLs:
Absolute URL: An absolute URL contains all web address components, including the scheme, domain name, domain extension and path. It provides the webpage’s location information so when you type it into a search bar, you will arrive at the exact page correlated with the URL.
Relative URL: A relative URL contains only the path of a web address. Closed networks (like a company’s intranet) use relative URLs when the domain name can be assumed. Users only need to convey the path to find their destination. For example, if this page was hosted on Wix’s internal servers, the relative URL might be: /encyclopedia/web-address/.
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What’s the difference between a URL and a web address?
There is no difference between a URL and a web address. A domain name and a URL, on the other hand, differ. A domain name is the master web address and the name of your website. For a business, the domain name typically contains the company name (e.g. Wix’s domain name is wix.com). The absolute URL for Wix’s homepage is https://www.wix.com, which is also the web address.
How to choose a web address
Your website’s URL contributes to your brand’s professional authority. Follow these steps to choose a web address that represents your website accordingly:
01. Choose a domain name
Choosing a domain name strategically distinguishes your web address. In fact, when you purchase a web address, you’ll find out you’re actually learning how to register a domain name. It means that you own the specific web address name, and can add paths as you see fit. When learning how to create a website, you’ll find that it’s best to include your business name in the domain name. In fact, check that the domain is available when developing your business name to ensure that you have the rights to both.
02. Decide on a domain extension
Most websites use .com, .org and .net as domain extensions, but you can choose from many other top-level domain (TLD) options, including generic top-level domains (gTLD) and country code top-level domains (ccTLD). A few gTLDs are .edu (post-secondary educational institutions), .info (informational websites) and .gov (American government website). A ccTLD is any country-specific extension, such as .ca (Canada) or .de (Germany).
03. Organize your URL paths
Your domain name and extension are your website’s primary web address and will lead users to your home page. Additionally, your website will have multiple pages and links that will require web addresses. As the website owner, you can control the path’s layout. Typically, you want your paths to be clear and logical so users can see the journey they’ve taken to arrive on their current page.