March 15, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
URLs help people find information on the internet. They’re also how search engines, like Google, understand what your web pages are about. Learning how to build a URL structure, and how humans and web crawlers understand them, can help you create a better user experience (UX) and improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
A URL, short for Uniform Resource Locator, shows the location of a resource on the internet. That resource can be anything, including a web page, a file or document, or a specific social media post. You can think of a URL like a street address. When you know the correct URL, you can navigate right to the resource for which you’re looking. If you don’t, you can use a directory, most commonly a search engine, to find the right one and navigate where you want to go.
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There are five main parts of a URL. Some components are optional and don’t have to appear in every single one. The parts of a URL in the order they appear in the address include:
The scheme, also known as the protocol, tells how data transfers between the host site and the client’s web browser. One common protocol is HTTP, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The most common one today, HTTPS, stands for the same thing but adds the word “Secure” to the end. Many sites use the HTTPS scheme because it tells the browser to encrypt information entered into the page, like credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information.
Having an HTTPS protocol and the associated Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate of protection can help improve your technical SEO and give visitors more peace of mind when visiting your website.
Subdomains can tell you the exact location within a larger web address where you want to navigate. They function like apartment numbers in a street address. They’re optional, and not every URL has one. Subdomains allow you to segment your website into major content categories. Common subdomains include things like:
They can help visitors and search engines understand that there’s more information on your website than just content that stems from the homepage.
Related: SEO Ranking Factors [Infographic]
The second-level domain (SLD) is the name of your website. It’s also commonly known as the domain name. This section is the equivalent of your house number in a traditional address. There may be many houses on your street, but only one with your specific house number. The SLD helps people know whose website they’re visiting. It often contains your company name and sometimes additional keywords that explain what your business is about. For example, our SDL is simply “copypress” but if someone had already taken that name, we could have chosen something like “copypressmarketing” or “copypresscontent.”
The top-level domain (TLD) tells what type of entity you run on the internet. It’s equivalent to your street name in a traditional address. TLDs can attach to many SLDs that serve similar purposes. Some common TDLs and what they represent include:
Other TDL options include those that show from which country the business or information comes, such as .ca for Canada or .au for Australia.
Subdirectories help you better categorize your specific page information within the subdomain and SLD. For example, in an eCommerce store, you may have a page dedicated specifically to SEO software. The full URL for that page may look like this:
At CopyPress, we host blog, knowledge base, and library content so we have three different subdomains to include them all. You can click on any of those links to visit the relevant subdomain page. Subdirectories, like subdomains, are optional. One-page websites, like landing pages, rarely have subdirectories.
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“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”
Director of SEO at Auto Revo
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