Domain name vs URL – if you’re new to website building, you may have come across these terms but still not be quite sure what they mean or how they differ.
In this guide, we’ll explain what domain names and URLs are and how they work. We’ll also show you why understanding the difference is important for building your site.
📚 Read on to discover:
Let’s get started!
Is a domain name a URL?
No, a domain name isn’t the same as a URL. However, a domain name is part of a URL.
Let’s make it simple. Imagine your website is called myexample.com. In this case, your domain name is myexample.com, and your URL is https://www.myexample.com/.
As you can see, the URL includes the domain name but also adds the protocol (
https://), the prefix (
www.), and the forward-slash path (
What is a domain name?
A domain name is what people type into their browsers to find your site, and it’s the first impression they get of your online presence.
Think of it like a street address for your business.
Just like your street address helps people find your physical location, your domain name helps people find you online. Without it, your business could get lost in the vast expanse of the internet.
Now, a domain name consists of two parts: the top-level domain (TLD) and the second-level domain (SLD).
The TLD is that little part after the dot, like .com, .org, or .net, while the SLD is the name you choose for your website or business before the dot. For instance, in the domain name www.google.com, “google” is the SLD, and “.com” is the TLD.
An example of a great domain name is Mailchimp.
The email marketing platform’s domain name, mailchimp.com, is memorable and relevant, combining the words “mail” and “chimp” to create a fun and playful brand image.
What is a URL?
A URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is the string of characters you see in your web browser’s address bar. It’s the magic code that takes you from one website to another or from one page to another.
Think of it like the address on an envelope – without it, your mail would never reach its destination.
👉 URLs consist of six parts:
- The protocol: it’s your browser’s method of communicating with the server. HTTP and HTTPS are the most common protocols.
- The prefix: the WWW before a domain. This helps identify the web address but isn’t strictly necessary for accessing a website.
- The subdomain: a sub-component domain name that can be used to create sub-sections of a website. For example, if we wanted to create a CodeinWP store we might use the subdomain “store,” turning our URL into https://store.codeinwp.com/. Note that not all URLs have subdomains.
- The domain name: the unique identifier for the website you’re trying to reach. For example, google.com or facebook.com.
- The path: a string of characters identifying a specific server page or resource. This comes after the domain name. For example, in the URL
/blogis the path.
- The query string: the query string is used to pass data to the server, such as search terms or user preferences. For example,
?fname=Paul. Note that many URLs don’t have a query string, but it is a common element.
Let’s take a look at two of the most famous URL examples to break this down.
First up, we have Google: https://www.google.com/.
This URL tells your web browser to use the HTTPS protocol to communicate with the server at “www.google.com.” The “www” is a prefix, and the “.com” is the top-level domain.
For our second example, we have a YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ.
This URL is slightly different because it includes a path and a query string. The path
/watch tells your browser to access the “watch” page on the YouTube server. The query string
?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ tells the server to load the video with the ID
Domain name vs URL: key differences
Now that you know the definition of a domain name and a URL, let’s look at this table and break down the differences between domain name vs URL:
|Basics||Your site’s brand name. Short, catchy, and memorable.||Your complete site’s address. It includes the domain name along with additional info.|
|Address/Representation||The friendly face of a website’s IP address. It’s the text-based version of your site that’s easy for people to remember and type into their browsers.||A string of characters with all the necessary information for accessing a specific web page.|
|Structure||A domain name consists of the following:
– A TLD.
|A URL consists of the following:
– A protocol.
|Example||myexample.com||https://www.myexample.com/ or https://www.store.myexample.com|
So, while a domain name is like the smile that greets you at the front door, a URL is the key that unlocks the whole experience.
Why your website domain name matters
As a website owner, you’ve probably heard that having a unique domain name is one of the keys to online success.
But why is that? Well, it’s like building a house – you need a solid foundation to hold up the walls and keep everything strong. And in the same way, your domain name is the foundation for your website.
Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:
First impressions count ⭐
First impressions are lasting impressions.
Your domain name is the initial perception visitors will have of your brand, which can shape their understanding of your website, services, or products. A unique and memorable domain name will make your site stand out and help you make a significant first impact.
Your domain name is like the signature scent of your brand. It’s the secret sauce that helps you establish a unique identity and makes it easier for people to remember your website.
With a strong brand identity, you can become the go-to solution for your audience, building trust and inspiring loyalty that will keep them coming back for more!
If search engines were people, they’d be the pickiest foodies you’ve ever met, only recommending the most unique and relevant websites to their friends.
That’s why having a standout and SEO-friendly domain name is like having a VIP pass at the top of their list. It signals to search engines that your site is trustworthy and authoritative, giving you a better chance of ranking higher in search results and driving more organic traffic to your business site.
Legal issues 🧑⚖️
Using a domain name already claimed by another company could result in a legal fashion faux pas, like trademark infringement.
So, opting for a unique domain name helps you avoid these legal entanglements and ensures complete control over your brand, allowing you to own your unique identity and differentiate from competitors.
How to find a great domain name for your website
When choosing a domain name that reflects your brand or business, there are a few things to remember.
First and foremost, you want it to be memorable and easy to remember. You also want it to be relevant to your brand and industry, and ideally, it should be unique and stand out from your competition.
But is it (really) possible to find an original domain name for your business with so many websites released daily?
One of the best ways to build a perfect name for your site is using a domain name generator like DomainWheel:
1. Write a keyword in the search bar and press Search Domain.
2. If you want to use a specific domain extension, click Select Filter and uncheck all the TLDs you’re not interested in. You can also filter DomainWheel searches by character count and number of keywords.
3. Take a look at the results and pick your favorite domain name.
4. Click View Details to register, buy or get a free domain with BlueHost.
5. That’s all! 😎 Now you can start building your website.
Final thoughts on “domain name vs URL” 🧐
If you’ve read this far, congratulations! You already know the difference between domain names and URLs and are ready to build your site.
💡 Here’s what you should take away from this article:
- A domain name is the user-friendly name of a website’s IP address, while a URL is a complete address that includes all the necessary information to access a specific web page.
- Your domain name is the foundation of your online presence and can significantly affect your online success.
- Choosing a memorable, catchy, and unique domain name can help create a fun and playful brand image for your business.
So take your time, get creative, and ensure your website is easily accessible and gives users a positive first impression. Good luck!
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