The Difference Between URLs and Domain Names

Take a detailed look at the different parts of a domain name, using this site as an example. This site’s domain name is – you can check this easily by looking at the URL or location bar of your browser. There you should see the entire URL, which should look like this: .

The “” portion is the actual domain name. Anything listed after that is used to identify specific content within that site. Much like the organizational system of a filing cabinet, website content is arranged in a hierarchical system. For example, if you wanted to direct someone to a specific document in room full of filing cabinets, you would direct them to a specific filing cabinet, a folder within that cabinet, and finally the desired paper. So your directions could look something like this: English Cabinet 1/2007 Folder/Page 2.

In this analogy, “English” is like the “http://” in a URL. “English” tells the reader that the language used in the ‘directions’ is English. Similarly, the “http://” tells your computer what language or ‘protocol’ to use when communicating with a website. Websites generally use http which is the ‘hypertext transfer protocol’. The : simply separates the protocol from the rest of the address and the // indicates that a connection is being attempted.

“Cabinet 1” is like the domain name, a specific location amid millions of other websites.

Each step after Cabinet1 tells the reader how to locate the specific page they need. Everything after tells a computer how to find specific data (or content) to display.

Many URL’s have ‘www’ at the beginning of them. For instance, the iGoldrush URL would be The ‘www’ is simply another level to the domain name (also known as a subdomain), but from a server standpoint is not actually necessary.  For instance, if you went to, you would still arrive at the website.  ‘www’ stands for World Wide Web and someone at some point thought it was beneficial to include it.  For some time there were rumors that www2 indicated that a web site was using the new Internet when in fact it was simply a different subdomain.  So long as you set it up correctly on the server, you could have and point that to wherever you want.  For example, to go to the English version of wikipedia, you would go to

Let’s take a closer look at exactly why domain names are so special (and what can make them so expensive)…