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Beginner's Guide To The 10 Parts Of A URL

All the parts of a URL are important to how your site functions and shows up in searches. Learn about the basic anatomy of a URL and its advanced parts.

Every business needs a website. Unfortunately, many small business owners fail to realize important aspects of their website that can affect its success as a sales and marketing tool. While you may know the importance of copy that sells and beautiful design, how much thought have you given your URL?

You likely choose a strategic domain name based on your business's name, but there are other parts of your URL that can affect your website's performance. Most people know what a URL is, but they don't understand all the parts that go into it.

At first, it may seem like you don't need to know the different parts of a URL as long as your business name is present. However, website URLs can play a significant role in the performance of your website and SEO strategy. Keep reading to discover our URL breakdown to learn more about the different parts of a URL and how they affect your business.

What is a URL?

URL stands for "uniform resource locator," and it's your business web address on the internet. A URL allows users to access the information on your website and contains various elements that tell web servers the types of content and information to display.

Website URLs are editable, so you can change them to anything you want. First, however, you should understand the parts of a URL and how different URL structures can affect your overall marketing strategy.

Believe it or not, your URL structure can enhance search engine optimization (SEO) efforts to help you rank on search engines like Google and improve user experience to increase conversions.

Basic URL parts are the scheme, subdomain, second-level domain, top-level domain & subdirectory

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: 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.

Second-level domain

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, 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.

Top-level domain

The top-level domain (TLD), also known as a domain extension, is the second part of the domain name. In, 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:

  • .mil
  • .edu
  • .ca
  • .net
  • .org

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, 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.

An example of a complex URL structure

Complex URL anatomy

The above parts of a URL aren't the only parts of a URL; URLs have a far more complex structure, so you might notice other elements on your website and choose to change them to better reflect your business, its products, and services, or different types of content.

In addition, URLs can contain other elements, including the following:


URLs may also consist of ports that identify the specific port of a server a browser is connected to. Ports are displayed as numbers. For example, the port for HTTP servers is 80.

It's important to note that port numbers are not IP addresses. Instead of identifying a particular machine in a network, ports are used to identify applications on a system.

Your URL likely won't display the port number because it's assumed by the browser. Therefore, it's not usually something you have to worry about unless it displays and affects the aesthetics of your URL.


Paths identify navigational routes on websites. The file path is located after the port in a URL and identifies the location of a file in the server, and tells the browser to open a specific page on a website. For example, in the URL, there is no path.

However, if you were to search for the word "email" on our website, you would reach this URL:, in which the path would be /search/.

It's important to note that the path is different from the page. The page is usually the final part of the URL. For example, in this article's URL, "parts-of-a-url" would be the page.


If your website has a search bar like ours, users will see the query they search for in the URL. Any time there's a question mark in the URL that tells web browsers and users a query is being performed.

The start of the query begins after the question mark in a URL. In our example URL from earlier:, the query is "email."


The query is part of a query string, also known as parameters. These parameters are variables located after the question mark when there's a query for a particular keyword or phrase. URL parameters give users and search engines additional information about the page to filter and organize website content. They can also be used to identify web pages of an archive or during a site search.

Another common use of parameters is tracking specific marketing campaigns in analytics tools like Google Analytics.


Fragments in URLs specify an exact location on a web page. They use a hash that directs users to a specific portion of the page, such as a specific heading or answers to queries they entered in search engines.

An example URL with a fragment might look something like this: In this case, the browser will load the "about" page of your website and automatically scroll down to the founder section, which might highlight information about the company's founder. The word after the hash is called the fragment identifier, while the hash with the word is called the fragment.

.com is generally considered better for SEO because it's more trustworthy than newer-generation TLDs.

Directing your users

So, what do all of the parts of a URL mean for your website? Ultimately, your URL can affect usability and search engine results. URL structure identifies different locations of your website and its pages. Without the right URL components, your users may find it difficult to navigate your website. In addition, poor navigation can result in a bad user experience, a significant component of technical SEO.

Luckily, you can easily edit URLs to enhance usability and improve your ability to rank on search engines like Google. Mailchimp's website builder makes it easy to organize content and create unique URLs with the right structure without needing technical skills.

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