Difference Between Links & URLs

By David Gitonga

Any time you are online navigating between websites, you are either using links or URLs (Uniform Resource Locators). Typically, you click on hyperlinks to follow links. Another way to look at it is that behind every link is a URL - or specific Web address - with content that is viewable once the link is clicked. Without a link, it is impossible to reach an online resource and without the URL, the link would lead nowhere.


Hyperlinks or simply links take the syntax below: Link to PageNothing between the angle brackets is displayed except for the text "Link to Page". Thus, when the text "Link to Page" is clicked it takes one to the embedded URL reference which is within the brackets.Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) consist of a protocol, a colon, a domain or IP address, a port number, the resource path and, optionally, a fragment identifier. The example below shows how the URL for a particular resource is written:http://www.google.com/realtime?hl=en&tab=wYCommon protocols used on URLs include FTP and HTTP, among others.


URLs are the means by which resources on a network or the Internet are located. They are used to describe the primary access mechanism for that particular resource. URLs point to absolute paths to a resource. Hyperlinks, on the other hand, use text or other symbols which can be changed while still pointing to the same URL. Even where URLs are relative, (for example, where resources point to other resources), they are relative to the original URL. So URLs point to absolute paths to a resource which can be accessed using relative links.

Browser Activity

Generally, you type a URL on a browser address bar in order to access a resource. Typing a link will rarely bring the desired results since there can be countless websites and documents on the Internet using the same word structure. When a URL is embedded on an object like an image, upon clicking the browser will re-direct the user to the URL behind the image. Other objects and elements can similarly be embedded with URLs to point to resources.

Character Reservations

URLs limit the use of certain characters that have special meanings within the URL. Some of these reserved characters include /,:, &, =, @, ? and the comma sign. Links simply point to URLs so they can be sentences that contain one, any or all of the above characters.