What Are the Components of a Web Address?

by Naomi Bolton Google
A Web address is used to locate specific pages on the Internet.

A Web address is used to locate specific pages on the Internet.

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In order to access content on the Internet, a Web address or uniform resource locator (URL) is required. The Web address is displayed in the address bar of your browser and is made up of different components. Together these components point to a location on the Internet that can be accessed using a Web browser. The Web address also specifies the protocol for accessing the page, the domain on which it resides as well as the path for pages and files on the site.

Protocol

The first component of a Web address is the protocol, which is also known as the scheme. The protocol defines how your browser handles the data and what type of connection is established. Common protocols include Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) for accessing Web pages or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), which is a secure version commonly used on sites that perform e-commerce. Other protocols include the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) used for transferring files and mailto used for sending emails. The protocol is separated from the rest of the Web address by a colon. Some browsers such as Chrome or Firefox do not display the protocol in the address bar while others like Opera do so only when you click the address bar. In the Web address "http://www.fbi.gov/about-us" for example, the protocol is the "http" part.

Domain Name

The domain name part of the Web Address is the unique identifier for the website on the Internet. It is usually made up of the name of the website in order to make it easy for visitors to remember. Domain names can be typed in upper or lowercase as they are not case significant. Your browser uses the domain name to look up the IP address of the website, which is then used to make the connection. In the Web address "http://www.fbi.gov/about-us" for example, the domain name is the "fbi.gov" part.

Domain Extension

The domain extension follows the domain name and is used to denote what type of website it is.This makes it easier to evaluate what type of site it is but since any organization can use any extension this is more of a common practice than hard rule. For example, a government website ends in the extension ".gov" while an education website might end in ".edu." The ".com" extension used to denote a commercial website is one of the most common, but there are also non-profit organizations that use the ".org" extension. The extension is also used to indicate the location of the website such as ".uk" for the United Kingdom and ".fr" for France. This would indicate that an ".org.uk" site is a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom while ".info.ca" is an information site in Canada. In the Web address "http://www.fbi.gov/about-us" for example, the domain extension is the .gov" part.

Path & Filename

The path is the section of the Web Address after the domain extension that indicates to your browser which folder or file to open. Unlike the domain name, the path is case sensitive so "/about.html" is not the same as "/About.html." When no path is specified, the index.html or "Home Page" file is shown. In the Web address "http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks/address-verification/addresscard.pdf" for example, the path is the "/about-us/cjis/background-check/ " part while "addresscard.pdf" is the filename. In some browsers, the filename is visible only when downloading the page.

About the Author

Naomi Bolton has been working as a photographer, designer and journalist since 2004. Bolton's articles have been published in the "Kontrei Gazette" newspaper. She holds a diploma of graphic design from Cibap College, Zwolle in the Netherlands.

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