3. URLs and domains

Uniform Resource Locators

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address you use to locate websites or other documents on the web. URLs have three component parts: protocol, domain, and path. Looking at the example URL (https://library.uq.edu.au/library-services/copyright-advice), we can see its component parts in the table below:

Components of a URL (web address)
Protocol Domain Path
https:// www.library.uq.edu.au /library-services/copyright-advice


The first component of the URL is the protocol. The most common protocol is http://, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. A variation of Hypertext Transfer Protocol is https:// (HTTP Secure). The additional ‘s’ on the end of the protocol indicates that the website has been encrypted using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security).

Decorative After ensuring that the domain looks legitimate, check for the https:// protocol before giving any personal information to a website or starting a transaction.


The domain is the name of the website homepage or the information that appears after the @ in an email address. Using our example above, the domain name is library.uq.edu.au. The domain name is made up of a mixture of top level domains (TLDs), second level domains (SLDs), and subdomains.

Decorative Watch a short video on Domain names (LinkedIn Learning, 4m34s) (UQ login required) for further information on the domain name system and internet protocol addresses.

A first step to creating a website is identifying, purchasing/registering and hosting a domain. Business Queensland has some good advice on registering a domain name.

Top level domains

There are hundreds of TLDs, and these domains appear on the right-most side of the domain.

Decorative Check your knowledge


Decorative While you do not necessarily need to identify all domains, recognising common TLDs is helpful. Google allows users to search within specific domains. For example, if you add your keywords and site:edu.au, you will search for results across Australian educational websites.


The path component of the URL is generally everything after the forward slash (/) symbol. In our example /library-services/copyright-advice. This is the file path to the exact web page or resource you are looking for.


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Internet Essentials Copyright © 2023 by The University of Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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