What Is a URL?

Home & Family, Technology
on March 5, 2012

URL stands for uniform resource locator. If you use the Internet, you’ve used a URL, sometimes pronounced by the letters U. R. L. or as “earl." The URL is the identifier for the individual pages on any website. Think of it as an address. Each page opened on the Internet has a unique address, or URL.

Finding the URL. Look up to the top of your browser to find the web address or URL of this page. It may look like this: americanprofile.com. The URL can be designated by a series of numbers as well. Many web page addresses begin with http://. This part of the URL stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. The URL that begins with http:// is not a secure page. Never enter personal information onto that type of page. If the URL begins with https://, the “s” means secure and your information when entered will be encrypted, making it more difficult for hackers to access to your personal data.

The URL’s purpose. The URL takes us from page to page as we make our way through the mounds of information available on the Internet. Without it, our computers would not know how to find our favorite sites. URLs can manually be typed into your browser’s address bar. You don’t even need to type in the http:// or even the www. before the name of the site you wish to visit. Simply type in AmericanProfile.com and your browser will take you to the site’s main page.

Breaking the URL down. The first part of the URL is the http or https. This is the protocol for transferring web pages through the Internet to web browsers. A browser is a service such as Firefox or Internet Explorer. The second part of the URL is the host name, which identifies the organization or computer you are accessing. For example, in the URL http://americanprofile.com, the portion americanprofile.com is the host name. According to the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida, the .com portion of the URL designates a commercial domain. Other URL domains you may encounter include .edu for educational domains and .gov for governmental domains.

Beyond the .com. Most websites have multiple pages for visitors to explore. When you leave the homepage to read an article within the site, the URL will change. After the .com, .edu, .gov or other domain designation, you will see a forward slash like this /, followed by a descriptive word. If you were to move from the home page at American Profile to read an article about family gardening, the article page URL would look like this, http://americanprofile.com/articles/family-gardening/.

Knowing what a URL is and how it works can make your Internet navigation easier and less confusing.