What is URL?
A Uniform Resource Locator (URL), colloquially termed a web address, is a reference to a web resource that specifies its location on a computer network and a mechanism for retrieving it.
A URL is a specific type of Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), although many people use the two terms interchangeably. URLs occur most commonly to reference web pages (http), but are also used for file transfer (ftp), email (mailto), database access (JDBC), and many other applications.
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is the address of a specific webpage or file on the Internet. For example, the URL of the gadgetsright website is https:// gadgetsright.com. The address of this page is https://gadgetsright.com/definition-uniform-resource-locator-url-mean/ and includes the following elements.
====> http:// – the URL prefix, which specifies the protocol used to access the location
====> gadgetsright.com, the server name or IP address of the server
====> /definition-uniform-resource-locator-url-mean, the path to the directory or file
While all website URLs begin with http, several other prefixes exist. Below is a list of various URL prefixes:
http: a web page, website directory, or other file available over HTTP
ftp: a file or directory of files available to download from an FTP server
news: a discussion located within a specific newsgroup
telnet: a Unix-based computer system that supports remote client connections
gopher: a document or menu located on a gopher server
wais: a document or search results from a WAIS database
mailto: an email address (often used to redirect browsers to an email client)
file: a file located on a local storage device (though not technically a URL because it does not refer to an Internet-based location)
How to Find a URL Address
Short for uniform resource locator, a URL identifies specific pages on the Internet. To find the URL of the page you are currently reading, just check the address bar at the top of your browser.
The address updates automatically as you move from one page to another. To help find other addresses, you can use a search engine or check your Web browser’s history menu. If an old address will not load anymore, visit an online cache to see how the site looked before it went down.
Using Search Engines To Find URL
Search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo index millions of websites, making it possible to find addresses by entering keywords and phrases. To help find the site you are looking for, use quotation marks to search for exact phrases, or a minus sign before a word to exclude it.
If you know part of the site’s address or its top-level domain, type site: followed by the address or TLD after your search terms. These methods work on a variety of search engines, but individual engines may have different features.
If you cannot find a site using one search engine, try another, as each produces slightly different results.
Finding a URL in Search Results
After searching for a site, you can find its URL by clicking the link and then checking your Web browser’s address bar. Most search engines also show each site’s URL beneath its link, but the URL may be cut off on longer addresses.
If you do not want to visit a site before checking its URL, you can right-click the link and choose to copy the link location, but some engines, including Google, modify these links to include tracking information, so the copied address won’t always match the site’s actual URL.
Finding Previously Visited URLs
To find a site you have used before, check your browser’s history by pressing Control–H. You can sort your history by date or site name, or search using any part of the URL or site title that you remember.
Web browsers have a limit on the length of time stored in history, so this method might not work if you haven’t visited the site in a long time, or if you have manually cleared your history.
Accessing Broken Websites
If a site will not load after you find its URL, you can visit a snapshot taken of the site instead. Many search engines include this feature in a cached link after the URL, or in an adjacent drop-down menu.
Alternatively, paste the entire URL into the WayBack Machine at the Internet Archive (link in Resources). This service saves multiple versions of websites, allowing you to view a site as it existed at various points in history.
The Essential Parts of URL
If your website is like a house, then your website’s URL is like that house’s address. It defines where your website lives online, similar to how your home address determines where you live in a neighborhood, helping your visitors easily find your site. URLs also help Google understand what your website’s pages are about. Here are the essential parts of URL you need to know: A URL consists of five parts
Now that you the parts now, let try to explain each of the part.
The scheme tells web servers which protocol to use when it accesses a page on your website. Nowadays, HTTPS, which stands for Hypertest Transfer Protocol Secure, is the most common scheme. It tells your web browser to encrypt any information you enter onto the page, like your passwords or credit card information, so cybercriminals cannot access it. This security protocol protects your website visitors and implementing it will help your site rank better on Google.
If your website is like a house, your subdomains are like specific rooms in that house. A subdomain in a URL indicates which particular page of your website the web browser should serve up. For instance, subdomains like blog or offers will provide your website’s blog page or offers page.
Subdomains also bucket your website into its main content categories and shows Google and your visitors that there’s more information on your site than just a homepage.
Your second-level domain (SLD) is the name of your website. It helps people know they are visiting a certain brand’s site. For instance, people who visit gadgetsright.com know they are on tech or technology related website, without needing any more information.
The top-level domain (TLD) specifies what type of entity your organization registers as on the internet. For example, .com is intended for commercial entities in the United States, so a lot of American businesses register with a top-level domain of .com.
Similarly .edu is intended for academic institutions in the United States, so a lot of American colleges and universities register with a top-level domain of .edu.
A subdirectory helps people understand which particular section of a webpage they are on. Take for example, if you own an online store that sells t-shirts, hats, and mugs, one of your website’s URLs could look like https://shop.yourstore.com/wares. With a subdomain of shop and a subdirectory of wares, this URL would serve up the wares page, which lives under the Shop page.
Now that you are through the parts of url of your website, then lets move to the next topic. This is very important as well
What is The Importance of a URL?
Many website owners work very hard to build their website, put great content, make it mobile optimized and promote it to increase visibility. However, an element that is often overlooked is the URL structure as most people perceive it to be a technical component.
What they miss is the fact that the URL could potentially be the missing piece in the success or failure of your website. A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the reference point to your website and also the link that people refer to the most.
If you want your customers to be attracted to your website and to keep returning regularly, you have to ensure your URLs is simple, short and user-friendly.
Most Content Management systems, like WordPress, provide you with a structure for your URL out-of-the-box. But a little attention and direction can really give your content a step forward in performing online. You may not realize how many places the URL is being used.
====> URLs are often the text used to link to a webpage
====> URLs are commonly printed on marketing collateral such as business cards, flyers, billboards, and emails
====> URLs are an influential factor in how your webpage may rank in an Internet search
====> URLs are often spoken by your sales and/or support staff
This can have a significant impact on your traffic since these URLs are difficult to remember and make the process of returning back to your page fairly complicated for users. It is thus important to consider a few points when it comes to URLs:
====> Does your URLs communicate what the page is about?
====> Is your URLs easy to remember?
====> Is it in line with the structure of your website, products and categories?
====> Is it short, simple and to the point?
It is best to avoid dynamic URLs. Also try not to have underscores. Google recommends using punctuation in your URLs but I would suggest you opt for a hyphen instead of an underscore
Key URL Considerations
www or non-www:
Yes Virginia, there is a difference between http://www.gadgetsright.com and http:// gadgetsright.com. In this example, www is a sub domain of gadgetsright.com and thus a separate web property and is treated as such.
So, avoid hostname issues and make sure that your website resolves to one or the other. And when you have that established, be consistent in how you communicate your domain and the use of www to potential visitors.
Which is best, www or non-www?
Well, there is no right or wrong answer here, just be consistent. And if your website is already established, I would recommend you search for your domain on Google and see what they are using as your primary URL.
If Google lists your URL without the www, then go that route. It is most likely easier to adjust your efforts than to change the mind of Google’s ranking algorithm.
Redirects allow you to avoid duplicate content and maximize the search engine equity that a piece of content can earn. There are many scenarios where you might want to manage URL redirects for your website.
Maybe you have just migrated from one CMS to another, changed domains, or want to account for misspellings. Regardless of the why, there is a right and a wrong way to handle redirects.
Make Your URLs Easy to Remember:
Keep it Simple, applies to the URL just as it does to the many elements of marketing. You want the user to remember the URLs so they can recall it and become a visitor.
If your URLs and site architecture is structured in a logical manner, it is more usable to humans and likely to get more value by search engine crawlers. Google’s advice on URL structure is pretty clear: “A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible.”
Hyphens Vs Underscores:
Rule of thumb, use hyphens. At the time of this article, there is no discernible difference between the hyphen and underscore in your ability to rank. However, there is a big user experience benefit to using hyphens.
When URLs containing an underscore is linked to, the underscore will often get masked by the underline of the link. This looks like a space to the user. That absence of a character is a critical misstep in the URL structure.
A space, when typed into the address bar for a URL, is actually the character set of “%20”. Having missed underscores could lead to a mass of broken links and visitors being sent to an error page.
Avoid Numbers in the URL:
Content Management Systems make it all too easy to include numbers in the URL, but like the capital letter, a number is not very user-friendly. There may be scenarios where a number is applicable to your content, but in general, a number should have to earn its way into the URL, not appear by default.
Mixed Case URLs:
Don’t fall into the trap of capitalizing letters in your URLs. Even worse than the underscore, capital letters in the URL are a user experience nightmare.
Just think about it. When was the last time you pressed the Shift key while you were typing in a web address? Never, exactly. Users don’t behave this way, so don’t force them.
Secondly, the capital letter is a different character than the lowercase letter and thus a separate URL. For example, https://gadgetsright.com/definition-uniform-resource-locator-url-mean/ is technically different than https://gadgetsright.com/definition-uniform-resource-locator-URL-mean/ and if your site doesn’t properly use canonicalization and redirects, this could wreak havoc on your SEO.
As with all things online, the user starts with a search engine query. The URL can play a key factor in giving your content the ability to rank in those searches.
Whenever possible, include keywords in your URLs. Just make sure they are logical. Don’t stuff keywords in the URLs and run the risk of a Google penalty.
A Single URL For A Single Piece of Content:
As I mentioned above with canonicalization, make sure that you are establishing each page on your website to match to a single piece of content one to one. Content Management and e-commerce systems make it easy to create duplicate content through URL parameters, use of IDs, and printer pages.
Luckily, most CMS systems have a means to handle this duplicate content issue and I would encourage you to check your site for this issue.
What about the printer pages? Utilize print style sheets to provide printable templates for users who may want to print your web page’s content.