How to inspect a complete internet address (URL)

How to inspect a complete internet address (URL)

The Internet Map. Photo:
The Internet Map. Photo:
Anatomy of a Domain Name Explained

Domain names are the unique address of a website that a user types into a web browser to visit a resource on the internet. They are made up of several parts that allow someone to identify and confirm exactly which server they are connected to (and how).

A complete internet address is called a URL (Uniform Resource Locator), which specifies its location on a computer network (the internet) and a mechanism for retrieving it.

One way hackers try to spoof users is by using a slightly modified domain name of a popular website, such as “” or “” to create a phony phishing site and steal information. By knowing how to inspect a complete URL, you can rest assured you are not putting your personal details into the wrong hands.

Internet URL Parts Explained
How to inspect a complete internet URL. Photo:

1. Protocol

Communication protocols are vital to the functioning of a network. These protocols formally describe the formats and rules by which data is transferred over the network.

  • Communication protocols include basic data communication tools like TCP/IP and HTTP.
  • Management protocols maintain and govern the network through protocols such as ICMP and SNMP.
  • Security protocols include HTTPS, SFTP, and SSL.

The most familiar protocol used on the internet is the “hyper text transfer protocol (HTTP)” which allows a web browser and server to communicate. “Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPS)” is the secure version of HTTP, where data sent between the browser and server are encrypted for added protection.

FTP is short for “File Transfer Protocol” and is typically used for uploading or downloading website server files and scripts. Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is used to securely transfer files across a network. Just like with HTTPS, data is encrypted and the client and server are authenticated.

2. Subdomain

A subdomain name is a piece of additional information added to the beginning of a website’s domain name. It allows websites to separate and organize content for a specific function — such as a blog or an online store — from the rest of your website.

The most common subdomain is “www” which stands for World Wide Web. If you plan to add more functions to your website, such as a store, a forum, or a blog, you might add a subdomain to your domain to separate these functions off from your main website, such as “” or “”

3. Domain name

When choosing a domain name, you want people to be able to find you and remember you so that they can share your site and your brand with others. A good domain name reinforces your brand identity, builds your authority and ultimately promotes your business.

  • Good domains have short names, you want clients to be able to find you easy as possible.
  • Shorter names help reduce the chance of errors in typing, remembering or sharing your name.

Avoid hyphens and numbers in a domain name, unless critical to your branding. Try not to use any spelling choices that are awkward or non-standard variations of words. Your goal is to make finding your site simple.

4. Top-level domain

The top-level domain (TLD) is everything that follows the final dot of a domain name (domain.TLD). It helps classify and communicate the purpose of domain names.

  • .com is intended for commercial businesses.
  • .net is best for businesses that provides services like internet and web services, or collaboration tools.
  • .org was originally intended for nonprofit websites but is no longer restricted.
  • .gov is for U.S. government entities.
  • .uk is for domains from the United Kingdom.
  • .ca is for domains in Canada.
  • .us is for domains in the United States (not to be confused with .gov).
  • .io is for domains in the British Indian Ocean Territory but is popular among many developer and SaaS websites.
  • .ai is for domains in the Anguilla Territory but is popular among the artificial intelligence sector.

Related: The Evolution of TLDs: Understanding Their Role in Online Branding

The .com extension accounts for the overwhelming majority of the world’s top-level domains (TLDs). It is the safest and best choice for a domain name.

.net is typically the second choice for a new registrant who cannot get the .com extension. Chances are as time goes on, you will eventually want to upgrade to the .com if you are serious about your name.

Can anybody own .org domains?

While for-profit businesses are now legally allowed to purchase and use .org domains, any business using a .org domain is inherently perceived as a nonprofit organization. Failure to clearly disclose the for-profit nature of your company could result in serious public backlash.

Related: Unlocking the Potential of .org: Is it the Right Domain Extension for Your Business?

5. Root domain

The root domain is simply a combination of the domain name and top-level domain. For example “” is a root domain. This is the part of a URL that should be verified before entering sensitive information on a website.

6. Subdirectory

Also known as a “subfolder,” the subdirectory of a URL sits outside of the main domain within its own partition. Just like a subdomain, the subdirectory can be used to host a separate website blog, ecommerce store, separate mobile site, contact forms, etc.

They are used to organize and segment a website just like a subdomain. The important distinction between the subdirectory and subdomain is that a directory comes after the root domain, whereas subdomains come before.

Subdirectory vs. Subdomain

One disadvantage of the subdirectory is it must be hosted on the same machine as the parent directory. With a subdomain, the website files can be stored on a separate machine and mapped using the domain name DNS records.

The main advantage of the subdirectory is that search engines consider them to be part of the root domain. Subdomains, on the other hand, are classified as separate websites and may not provide the same “link juice” as the main domain.

7. Endpoint

The endpoint in a URL is the final destination for the main file being served by the web server. This is typically a filename (such as or a SEO friendly slug (

8. Request Parameters

When visiting websites with dynamically generated content, you can use parameters in the URL to specify certain settings or options for the current page. You can add parameters to a URL by adding a hash symbol (#) or question mark (?) to the end.

Example 1:

In the example above, the supplied URL will filter for content under the “articles” category. Additional parameters can be added using the ampersand (&) symbol between each one.

Example 2:

In the second example, the supplied URL is still looking for content under the “articles” category, but is now viewing page 2 of the result set.