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Video 6: What the Heck is a URL (and why should I care)?

February 7th, 2011Posted by akassover in Domain Names, Insurance Agent Websites, Technology, Videos


Hi, this is Aaron Kassover from AgentMethods.  I wanted to talk to today just for a few minutes about something called URLs, which you might have heard being mentioned.  URLs are kind of a geeky topic, but there is some important vocabulary here, and I think it’s something that’s worth just spending a few minutes to explain because we’ll be talking about it more later.  URLs stand for Uniform Resource Locator and they were invented by a guy name Tim Berners-Lee.  Tim is – really is the inventor of the World Wide Web.  He’s also the director of the World Wide Web Consortium or the W3C and just really, generally a very important guy that we’ll probably talk more about some of the things he’s done later.

Uniform Resource Locators are a way to address the location of web pages.  If you can see this right here, this is an example of a URL.  I’ll break down kind of the components so that I can explain what each of them are.  And so, we have http://www.insure.com/life/quote.html.  And the very first thing here is the http, and this is the scheme which really tells us just how this resource should be handled.  HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.  You might see HTTPS which adds ‘secure’ to the end.  FTP or SFTP or some of those, there are a bunch more here, as well, but all web traffic is HTTP or HTTPS and those are the really ones we care most about.

The next thing we see is the host name.  This is essentially the server; that server where the files are located.  It’s broken down to a couple of components.  The first of which is the dot.com or the top-level domain.  Those are things like .com or .org, .edu.  There’s now a .name and .biz, .museum, but there’s a list of these that are available to us to get domain names at.  And then, of course, there is the domain name itself, which would be insure.com; would be a great domain name to have.

And then there’s the www and that’s the sub domain.  As a domain owner, if you own insure.com, you then can then create sub domains.  And so as sort of a standard or a convention, most web sites use www. domain name.com to locate themselves, but it really could be anywhere.  I think Wikipedia does it by language, so they have en.Wikipedia.com.  At AgentMethods, we give every agent a staging site, so it would be their username.agentmethods.com.  And you really get an infinite number of these sub domains.

And then after the domain name, everything behind this is the path of the file.  So here we’ve got the path, and this essentially refers to the directory structure on the server where the resource is located.  In our example here, there’s a directory called “life” and then the very last thing is the actual file itself.  So we’ve got quote.html, and of course, “quote” is the name of the file and .html is the file type.  You might see .php or .jsp here.  You can also have other files like a Word document, .doc, or .txt for a text file, images like .jpg for a jpeg – really any file and that just tells the browser once it receives the file how it should display it or load it up.  There might be a couple of things that happen after the file name.  You might see query strings which would essentially look like question mark and then some item equals a number or something stacked behind that.  You might also see anchor tags which would be number sign and then something that just references a part of this html file.

Really, in essence, this is the basics of a domain name – I’m sorry, of a URL.  There are a couple of important things that we’ll be talking about like using keywords and domain name or the path or the filename.  This is an opportunity for us to do some SEO in the actual URL, and so we will be coming back to this more in the future.

But I thought we’d take a few minutes today to explain it, so there you go.

Thanks and there is more to come tomorrow.