What is a URL?

URL is an acronym that stands for “Uniform Resource Locator,” although some people refer to it as a “Universal Resource Locator.” The simplest way to understand an URL is the address or location of something on the internet. For example, the URL of the WordPress Foundation’s website is: http://www.wordpress.org.


URLs are not just for website addresses, however. Anything that is connected to the internet with a fixed location, including things like FTP directories, use a URL.


The URL is also more than just an address. The way it is formatted indicates how to access it as well. All URLs have the following:


The protocol needed to access the resource (websites, for example, always begin with “http”);
The address or location of the website (this can be either the numeric IP address or the plaintext domain name);
The port number (this is optional – the standard port to access a website is 80); and
The location of the resource (a page, a post, a file, etc.) in the server’s directory structure.


Tim Berners-Lee, the “godfather” of the internet, and his Internet Engineering Task Force group created the URL in 1994.


All URLs must be formatted in a specific way:

The necessary protocol (like “http” for websites); followed by
A colon and two forward slashes;
The location or address of the server/domain;
A colon and then the port number (when needed); and
The precise location/address of the resource on the server/domain.


Note: Websites do not actually need to have the “www” in their URL. This became a custom during the early days of the internet and stands for “world wide web.” If you type in a URL without using the “www” prefix such as “http://google.com,” your browser will be directed automatically to “http://www.google.com.”