URL Structure – The Parts of a URL Explained

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The URL of your website has many parts to it. From the protocol to the domain extension, sub domains and directories, this will be your guide to understanding the parts of a URL.

The way a URL is structured is based on a hierarchy, with the root domain being at the top of this structure and all other parts being sub sections.

Root Domain

You’ll see a term called the “root domain” and what it’s specifically referring to is the highest level of the hierarchy of a website. Example.com is a root domain. It typically contains both sub domains (subdomain.example.com) and any specific web pages (example.com/page) according to the permalink structure.

Permalink identifier

The permalink is the actual structure and hierarchy of of your website. It’s an amalgamation of the words permanent and link. It is designed to be the consistent structure and organization of your website and blog for years to come.

When setting a permalink structure with any website, it’s best to pick one structure and not change it. Changing your permalinks mean your blog posts and page will be found at completely new URL’s. Thus requiring search engines to re-index an rank your content.

Here are the most common URL structures people use with WordPress:

/post-name – This a great structure for websites with under 50 pages in total as it’s not too complex.

/blog/post-name – The best overall structure for most blogs and websites as it gives a nice layout and site structure for visitors and search engines.

/date/post-name – This one should only be used if your content is time sensitive. otherwise, don’t include the date as it makes your URL’s pointlessly long.

/category/post-name or blog/category/post-name – This URL structure is ideal for websites that will have thousands of pages of content. It works because you’re able to make each category into it’s own “mini site” via the URL structures.

Example.com/blog/example

In this example, “blog” is a directory not a webpage. “Example” is a webpage found in the blog directory.

Example.com/page

For this URL, page is simply a webpage attached to the root domain. Most websites use webpages for

The Protocol

A URL with regards to the protocol is broken up into two parts. The actual protocol identifier and the resource name. Websites typically use HTTP or HTTPS. These stand for hyper text transfer protocol. The “s” in HTPPS stands for “secure.”

There are many types of protocols, another less common one would be “FTP” which means file transfer protocol. The Protocol and the resource name are separated by two forward slashes.

Sub domain

A sub domain would be something like subdomain.example.com. A great example of this in action is maps.google.com. Sub domains are typically treated as their own separate website, distinct and different from the root domain.

In practice, use a sub domain if a specific service or feature you with to provide is totally different from what the root domain name is about.

Pages on a sub domain

A sub domain can have it’s own web pages that are different and separate from what the root domain name is. If you have a URL like subdomain.example.com/page, “page” is actually a web page associated with the subdomain and not the root domain.

Directories

Last, a common structure for all websites is to use directories, like example.com/blog or example.com/images. Directories are great for breaking up content found on a website in a logical way. Directories are how all websites tend to be structured on the back end to make managing multiple resources easy.

Images, files, HTML, videos and your blog posts are all stored across multiple directories on your website.

Domain Extensions

The last part of a domain name is the extension. Extensions are broken up into top level domain names like .com, .net, .org and .co as well as country code specific domain names like .ca for Canada.

For a website with a broad appeal, go with a top level TDL like a .com. If your website is country specific then go with .co.uk or .ca.

Parts of a URL Example

 So let’s break apart and explain this URL: http://en.ilovecoffee.jp/posts/view/29 

  • http:// is the protocal.
  • en is the sub domain. It stands for English as the website is in Japanese.
  • ilovecoffee is the domain name.
  • .jp is the TLD, in this instances it’s the country code for Japan.
  • /posts/view: For this, “posts” are the top level directory and “view” is the second level directory.
  • /29 is the name of the web page.

So what we have here is a Japanese language website about coffee with a sub directory called “en” for any English language published content. This is the ideal use of sub domains (e.g. content that is different from the main site, in this instance the main site is in Japanese).

URL Structure conclusion

So that is a it for our brief guide as to the parts of a URL. It’s helpful to know how a URL is structured so you’re able to communicate effectively with web hosting companies, domain name registrars or any type of professional you wish to hire for work.

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