September 22, 2020
3 min read
A website address, also commonly known as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator), refers to a location where a file, directory, or website page is hosted on the internet.
Website addresses are entered into a web browser’s address bar. An example of a web address would be https://zyro.com/.
A web address is made up of three basic elements: the protocol, a domain name, and a path.
Let’s take https://zyro.com/blog/how-to-choose-domain-name/ as an example.
The protocol (HTTPS)
A website address begins by defining the used protocol. Its job is to help access and transport the information contained in web pages from a web server to a browser.
The protocols used for web addresses are either HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) or HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure).
HTTPS is used for pages that have been made secure with the use of an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). This means that browsers accessing the address encrypt any information provided. This way, the information being transferred cannot be intercepted by a third party.
For instance, sites like online shops have login pages and require bank details for purchases. Because this is sensitive information, they need to be protected by the HTTPS protocol.
The domain name (zyro.com)
Domain names help identify a website on the internet. It is a unique name pointing to a website’s location on the internet.
A domain name has two parts: a website name and a top-level domain (TLD). A TLD appears at the very end of a website address, following a period. Common TLDs include .com, .net, .org, and many others.
In this case, Zyro is the website name, and .com is the TLD.
The path (/blog/how-to-choose-domain-name/)
The part after the TLD is known as the path. This is because it directs the browser to a specific page on the website.
In this case, /blog/how-to-choose-domain-name/ leads to Zyro’s blog page, then to a particular post.
If the path isn’t specified, e.g. https://zyro.com/blog/, the web browser will automatically look inside the /blog/ folder for a file called index.
If the file can’t be found, a 404 Not Found error will usually show.
Website addresses are one but not the only example of a URL.
A web address typically starts with an http or https protocol as is the case with https://zyro.com.
Meanwhile, URLs can start with a vast variety of protocols such as HTTP for web pages, NFS nfs://myserver/export/shares/files for files on an NFS server, FTP ftp://user:firstname.lastname@example.org/ for transferring files with a file transfer protocol, and many more.
A web address is always a URL, but a URL isn’t always a web address.