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Question: What does "URL" stand for?

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Helen Purves Helen Purves | 13:57 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

The WebWise inbox gets a lot of questions, and we thought that as well as replying individually we'd start sharing our answers on our new blog. This week it's one of our most common questions: what does "URL" stand for, and what does it mean?

Well, "URL" stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Quite a mouthful, really, for what it is: a web address. This helps your web browser to find a website on the internet. It's the virtual equivalent of a street address, with each part playing its part. Let's use the URL of this blog to break it down:


Let's start with the https:// part. This stands for "HyperText Transfer Protocol". It's a bit complicated, but basically this is the foundation of the web: this tells your browser that you're looking for something kept online as opposed to on your personal computer.

Next comes the www bit. You might already know that this stands for "World Wide Web". Many websites don't use this any more, and people often don't mention it as if it's needed your browser will automatically put it in for you. Although it probably takes up most of your time online, what we call the "web" was originally only part of a great variety of different services across the internet, which is where this came from.

The part after that - bbc.co.uk - tells your browser where on the web to find the website. Your browser interprets this text as a series of numbers which leads it to the server where the website is stored.

The last two parts (/blogs/webwise/) indicate where on that server the page you're looking at is being kept. This is exactly like the folders on your computer where you keep your own files: this blog is in a folder called "webwise" which itself is in a bigger folder called "blogs". Each folder name ends with a forward slash, like this: /

So that's it - I hope that's cleared things up for you. If not, you might want to take a look at our article about how the web works. We also have a lot more information about URLs in the main WebWise article on the subject.

If you want to send us a question, visit our feedback page. Please let us know if it's okay for us to use your first name and location.

As well as working on the WebWise production team, Helen has an interest in short-form video, social media and online marketing.



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