What is the difference between a URL and a domain name?

What is the difference between a
URL and a domain name?

Welcome back to Tech Know with Uncle Url! Remember, there are no dumb questions, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling dumb when I ask them, so instead of you feeling silly, I’ll ask the questions for you! This article will clear up once and for all the difference between a URL and a domain name.

The difference between a URL and a domain name is one of those questions that sometimes people are afraid to ask, because they think everyone should know the answer. Not true! This is a very common misunderstanding, and a pretty easy one to clear up.

What is a URL?

So let’s dig into the questions about URL’s and domain names. By the way, that’s why my name is spelled URL, not the more conventional spelling of Earl. My parents named all of their children after the career they thought would be good for them. They named my sister Sue, and no joke, she is a lawyer. They named me URL and spelled it U-R-L because website design was beginning to be a big thing when I was born. So URL it is!

Let me see if I can help you understand the difference between owning a domain name and having a URL, and answer the question once and for all: when I buy a domain name, does that mean I am really buying the URL? I just needed help, my overalls were all in a bunch. So here is what I found out.

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Hardly anyone calls it by that longer name, they just say URL but they spell it out when they say it, like U-R-L. A URL is the full address to a web destination in a language that computers can understand. It’s like a road map for the computer to find a specific website or even a specific page on a website. For example, this is the full web address, or URL, of a blog of ours on our website about writing original content to raise SEO:


Let me break it down for you and show you the typical parts of a URL. The URL above shows the computer:

  1. The language it’s written in (the language in this case the language is called http//:–just take my word for it right now, that’s a computer language for moving files over the internet).
  2. The website the article is located on (212creative.com)
  3. And finally the name of the article: (“Write original content to improve SEO”).

That is very specific, but that is nothing you have to worry about. That would be like if nobody had names, and just introduced themselves by their telephone numbers. Yikes, how to remember all of that?

What is a domain name?

Enter DOMAIN NAMES! Yeah! A domain name is the English, human version of the URL. If I type in the name of our company, 212 Creative.com, the computer looks that up and knows it stands for the longer URL with the http:// and all of that stuff. I think of it like a Twinkie snack cake. Delicious. If I asked for a Twinkie by saying “Umm, excuse, me can you help me find a Twinkie”?, I would get a Twinkie. Asking for a Twinkie by the English word Twinkie would be like using the Domain Name.

If I I asked for a Twinkie using the URL, it would be like listing all of the ingredients. “Umm, excuse me, can you help me find:

http://Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, Dextrose. Contains 2% or Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Cornstarch, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Yellow 5, Red 40.

Eh, who cares. I just want a dang Twinkie. So delicious.

So URL’s are the computer language map to something on the internet. Domain names are the human names for those same things on the internet.

Why do I have to buy a domain name?

That is why you have to pay for a unique Domain name on a service like GoDaddy.com. They keep track of every possible Domain Name, and make sure there is only one domain name like one you want out there in the entire world. Duplicate names can’t be allowed, because when you type in the domain name (like 212 Creative.com) that domain name automatically connects with the URL and that URL gives a road map to the website for which you are looking.

So there you have it!

URL = map to websites using computer language stuff
Domain name = Human name for the website

Hope this helped. Uncle URL signing off. I’m going to go get a Twinkie.

Check out other informative and fun articles by Uncle URL, including Why do I need web hosting? What is a Google Business Listing? Cookies-Ha! What are they good for? Ac-tu-ally something!! How to protect yourself against malware in three easy steps.  What is a SSL Certificate, and What is a DNS Record?

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