What Is a URL? (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated April 26, 2022 | Published May 3, 2021

Updated April 26, 2022

Published May 3, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

URLs are important when using the internet because they allow us to access materials such as job applications and company websites. Understanding how a URL functions can help you navigate the internet more effectively and see the significance of what you type into your address bar. In this article, we explain what a URL is, the different types of URLs and how URLs function to make the internet useful and enjoyable.

Related: How To Become a Computer Engineer

What is a URL?

A URL is a typed address browsers use to access a published page on the internet. URLs can retrieve many kinds of items such as:

  • Homepages

  • E-commerce stores

  • Blogs

  • Landing pages

  • Portfolios

  • Galleries

  • Social media profiles

  • Downloads

  • CSS documents

  • HTML code

  • Images

  • PDFs

Web administrators manage the URLs that exist on the server and the web pages to which the URL link leads. You can divide a URL into different sections that serve different purposes. Some sections of a URL are necessary for the URL to function properly while others are optional. The parts of a URL include:

Schemes

The scheme is the first part of the URL that communicates a protocol request for a browser. Examples of schemes you'll see at the beginning of URLs include:

  • HTTPS: An HTTPS scheme points to a secured website.

  • HTTP: An HTTP scheme points to an unsecured counterpart website.

  • MAILTO: The MAILTO scheme points to a mail client.

  • FTP: A FTP scheme points to a file transfer.

An example of the scheme in a full URL is:

https://craftycreations.net:80/path/tothe/filehtml?key2=value3&5key3=value4#OurStore

Authorities

The authority is the domain name of the website to which the URL points. It's usually separated from the scheme by the :// pattern. Sometimes, the URL separates the domain name from the port number with a colon. The domain name listed in the authority portion of the URL shows which web server the URL requests.

Sometimes, the authority might contain an IP address—a unique numerical address that identifies a device on the internet or a local server—instead of a domain name. The port number shows which gate is used to access the webpage. Aside from in HTTPS or HTTP scheme URLs, the port number is necessary for the link to be effective.

An example of the authority and port number is:

https://craftycreations.net:80/path/tothe/filehtml?key2=value3&5key3=value4#OurStore

Resource paths

The resource path portion of the URL dictates where the link goes when locating the exact page on a web server. This file path is used to show an abstract location in the web server, with no real physical implications. An example of a resource path is:

https://craftycreations.net:80/path/tothe/filehtml?key2=value3&5key3=value4#OurStore

Parameters

Parameters comprise keys and values separated by the "&" symbol that give extra instructions to the web server. Web servers use parameters to complete other functions before leading the browser to the link location. Different web servers have different rules concerning parameters. An example of parameters in a URL is:

https://craftycreations.net:80/path/tothe/filehtml?key2=value3&5key3=value4#OurStore

Anchors

Anchors are figurative bookmarks to a specific section of a webpage. Within HTML code, an anchor functions as a highlighted portion that the browser automatically scrolls to upon reaching the URL destination. This can help emphasize certain parts of a document or lead browsers to a specific timestamp of a video upon clicking its link. An example of an anchor in a URL is:

https://craftycreations.net:80/path/tothe/filehtml?key2=value3&5key3=value4#OurStore

Related: Learn About Being a Computer Programmer

Types of URLs

There are five different kinds of URLs

Absolute URLs

An absolute URL contains only the parts needed to function properly. It doesn't contain optional parts, extra instructions or extra details that have functions besides reaching the URL destination, such as protocols or ports. An example of an absolute URL is:

https://craftycreations.net/OurStore

Relative URLs

Programmers and web developers use relative URLs within HTML code. Rather than listing the entire web address, like an absolute URL, a relative URL includes only the specific location following the / character. Relative URLs use the document path to find the resource requested by the browser. When coded correctly, the relative URL can function like an absolute URL, but with less information.

Related: Your Guide To Getting a Job in Computer Science

Semantic URLs

Semantic URLs use words that most people understand to increase readability without in-depth technical knowledge. Semantic URLs are useful for communicating information to other people and are also easier to manipulate than standard URLs, since they are more easily understood. Some may call semantic URLs "clean" URLs because they omit a variety of other special characters or strings of letters, numbers and symbols that don't translate into readable English. An example of a Semantic URL is:

https://billsbakery/ourmission/homepage

Data URLs

Data URLs are a type of URL used for embedding content. In message platforms, certain documents and webpages, data URLs allow users to embed content directly into the page. Developers use the "data:" scheme at the beginning of all data URLs to display video, images or other media files directly on the page. An example of a data URL is:

<code>data:image/png;base64,</code>

Encrypted URLs

Developers use encrypted URLs to prevent easy hacking. These URLs embed different files into an encrypted system so that hackers cannot easily steal data or restricted files from a webpage directly. Encrypted URLs may change each time a new user visits to deter hacking.

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Using URLs

To use a URL in your browser, type or paste the URL text into the address bar. Using URLs in the HTML language for coded documents may be more complex and involve distinct steps depending on the type of page, document or media to which the URL points. Use these steps to see various ways you can use a URL in an HTML document:

  • Displaying media by typing the URL after "img" or "video" elements

  • Linking another document by typing the document URL after "link" or "script" elements

  • Linking documents using the "a" element

  • Displaying other HTML documents using the "iframe" element


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