What Are the Components of a Web Address?

By Faizah Imani

People all over the globe type web addresses into their Internet browsers every day. You may not give a second thought to what you are typing. It's not a big deal, right? Actually, the web address that you type is a big deal. Its many components work together to make your web browsing experience seem effortless.

The Scheme

When looking at a web address, the first part you will generally see is "http://." This portion of the web address is called the scheme. The scheme tells the Internet browser what protocol needs to be followed to pull up the address. "Http://" stands for hypertext transfer protocol. Other common schemes are "ftp://" (file transfer protocol) and "mailto://" (email protocol).

The Host

The second portion of the web address signifies the host. Typically the host will start with "www," which stands for World Wide Web. This lets the Internet browser know that the site is located on the "Internet." If the web address is an "intranet" web address it will not begin with www because it is an internal website that can only be viewed by internal computers. Following the www will be the domain name for a particular person, company or organization. For example, Microsoft's domain name is Microsoft.com.

The Extension

The ".com" extension is used by commercial organizations, companies or individuals who are trying to sell something. The ".info" extension is typically used for informational websites, with no selling involved. The ".org" extension is used by organizations: ".gov" by official government websites; and ".edu" by educational institutions. All of the domain extensions are monitored and regulated by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers..

The Path

The path is the last portion of the web address. The path tells the browser what file to pull from the domain's file directory. For example /pictures.html might be the name of the web page that stores your pictures and /mycars.html might be the page that lists your favorite cars.


ICANN is the official organization that coordinates domain names on the World Wide Web. ICANN is also responsible for approving or denying new domain extensions.

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