What is a URL? Here’s what you need to know

You may know that a URL is more or less synonymous with a web address – information that you type into the address bar of a web browser to go to a specific website. Every page on the Internet has its own URL.

Here’s a quick guide to what a URL is and how it works.

What to know about URLs

A URL is a Uniform Resource Locator, the name given to how web pages are referenced and found using web browsers. The URL is made up of several parts:


A typical URL is made up of four parts: protocol, domain, path, and web page.

Dave Johnson / Business Insider

Protocol: usually http: // or https: //, this tells the web browser to expect a web address to follow. Modern web browsers don’t require you to type the protocol; it will fill it all by itself.

Domain: This is the top-level part of a URL – the name of the website – and you can think of it as the computer the web page is stored on. In reality, the domain is probably made up of many computers, especially for large domains that many people access.

Path: Think of this as the folder structure of the website, so that a browser will know in which subfolder to find the web page.

Web page: This is the last part of the URL and the specific page you are requesting. Usually this is the actual file name of the page as stored on the domain computer.

In reality, a URL hides a lot of complexity; the URL is a friendly substitute for a

IP adress

, which is a string of characters that serves as the actual location of the web page on the Internet. When you enter a URL in a web browser, your browser then searches for the domain name’s IP address using a tool called a domain name server (DNS). DNS is like a phone book used by every web browser.

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