The basic parts of a URL
The anatomy of a URL can be challenging to understand. You may know your domain name but aren't sure what other parts of a URL mean and why they're important. While URLs may not seem important to your marketing strategy, they can impact your website performance.
The scheme, also known as the protocol, is the first part of a URL and determines how different files on a web server are displayed and transferred to the user.
The scheme can be HTTP or HTTPS, which determines whether the web page will be displayed in hypertext, also known as HTML.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the most common protocol because it's secured by encrypting information entered on a website, like passwords or personal information.
The subdomain determines which content should be displayed. Subdomains vary depending on the type of pages and their topics. For example, a website with a blog might use "blog" as a subdomain.
Meanwhile, if you offer a special page for customer support, your subdomain might be "support," in which your URL would look something like: https://www.support.yourbusinesswebsite.com. Subdomains provide your website with a content hierarchy, allowing you to categorize different areas of your website.
The most common subdomain is "www," which indicates a website uses HTTP. However, this subdomain is no longer required when typing in a URL online.
When you buy a domain, you purchase both a second and top-level domain. The second-level domain is the part of your domain name that represents your business. In most cases, the second-level domain should be your business name. For example, in mailchimp.com, the second-level domain is "mailchimp," letting you know you're on our website without needing any more information from the URL.
This is often one of the most important parts of a URL because even if you don't know the entire website URL, you can do a quick Google search for the business name to find its website.
The top-level domain (TLD), also known as a domain extension, is the second part of the domain name. In mailchimp.com, the top-level domain is represented by ".com."
Top-level domains represent the type of organization you have. For example, government websites use the top-level domain of ".gov," while commercial businesses typically use ".com."
Other TLDs include:
Of course, there are many more extensions than .org, .com, and .net domains. For example, a country code TLD indicates a country or geographic area, such as ".uk."
In most cases, businesses should use their business name as their second-level domain and .com as their TLD. Since .com is the most common TLD for businesses, your customers expect to be able to easily find you online by typing in the URL that makes the most sense to them.
Since it's the most common TLD, it's easy to remember so your customers can easily find you online, improving user experience (UX) even before a customer's first interaction with your business.
A subdirectory comes after the TLD in a URL. Also known as a subfolder, it helps users understand their location on a website. For example, this article's URL is https://mailchimp.com/resources/parts-of-a-url, and the subdirectory is "resources." From this subdirectory title, you can determine that you're reading our website resources section.
Of course, your subdirectory title can be anything as long as it helps to organize your content and help people and search engines understand different types of content on your website. For example, a business might use "blog" or specific product or service categories as a subdirectory to help organize different content on the site.