Types of URL

What Are the 3 Types of URL

A URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is the web address used to locate and access specific resources on the Internet. In simpler terms, it’s the “address” you type into a web browser to visit a webpage. URLs consist of several parts: the protocol (like “https://” or “http://”), the domain name (such as “www.example.com”), and additional paths and parameters if needed.

URLs are crucial for web browsing because they allow us to easily find and access websites, pages, images, videos, and other online content. They serve as a roadmap, guiding us through the vast internet landscape to our desired destinations.

URLs are the digital addresses that make the Internet accessible and navigable for users worldwide. Whether searching for information, connecting with others, or shopping online, URLs are the gateway to the vast array of content available on the web.

1. Standard URL

Standard URLs are versatile and widely used to link to various types of web content. They provide a structured way to locate and access resources, making it easy for users and web browsers to interpret and navigate the Internet.


HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the standard method for transferring web documents, and most websites use it. It’s not inherently secure. HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is the secure version, encrypting data for safe transmission, especially for sensitive information. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is used for transferring files between computers, often for website maintenance and requiring login credentials.

Domain Name

A domain name consists of several parts. The subdomain, like “www”, is a prefix to the main domain and is often used for organizational purposes, though it’s optional. The main domain is the core of the address, identifying the specific website, such as “example”. The Top-Level Domain (TLD), like “.com” or “.org”, indicates the type of organization or entity and can be country-specific.


The path in a URL specifies the location of a resource within the website’s directory structure. The root (“/”) is the starting point, representing the main directory with the core files and folders. Folders are subdirectories within the root, organizing content into categories, each separated by a forward slash (“/”). The file part of the path refers to the specific webpage or resource, including the filename and extension, such as “article1.html.”

Query Parameters

Query parameters are key-value pairs passed to the web server, separated by a question mark (“?”). For instance, “?category=tech&tag=web” could be used to filter content by category and tag. These parameters are commonly used in search queries and form submissions to enable dynamic content loading. Special characters are encoded in URLs to ensure compatibility across browsers and to prevent misinterpretation.

Fragment Identifier

A fragment identifier is an optional part of the URL that specifies a specific section within a webpage, indicated by a hash symbol (“#”). For example, “#section2” directs users to a particular section of a webpage. Fragment identifiers are often used with JavaScript to enhance user experience, allowing for dynamic page scrolling. They are particularly helpful on longer web pages, aiding navigation to specific content sections.

Why Standard URLs Matter

  • Interpretation: Standard URLs are easily interpreted by web browsers, allowing for seamless navigation. Servers understand and process URL components efficiently, ensuring proper access to resources.
  • Navigation: Users rely on standard URLs to click on links or directly enter addresses, facilitating quick access to desired web pages. This accessibility is key to efficient web browsing.
  • Bookmarking: Users save and share specific standard URLs, creating bookmarks for frequently visited or preferred websites. This feature allows for easy return to important pages.
  • SEO: Search engines index and rank webpages based on their URLs, among other factors. Well-structured URLs with relevant keywords can positively impact search engine results.
  • Consistency: Standard URLs provide a consistent and predictable format for users and developers alike. This uniformity ensures clarity in web addresses, aiding in communication and understanding across the Internet.

2. Relative URL

Relative URLs serve as a valuable tool for web developers, providing flexibility, efficiency, and simplicity in linking resources within a website. By understanding their structure and benefits, developers can improve the usability and maintenance of a website’s navigation system. 

Definition and Purpose

Relative URLs are a type of URL used to specify the location of a resource on the current page. Unlike absolute URLs, which provide the full path from the domain, relative URLs are concise, assuming a base URL and specifying the path from that base. This makes them particularly useful for internal links within a website.

Differences from Absolute URLs

Relative URLs differ from absolute URLs in that they do not include the protocol and domain information. Instead, they rely on the base URL of the current page to form a complete URL. For example, if the current page’s URL is “https://www.example.com/products/”, a relative URL like “../images/image.jpg” would refer to the “image.jpg” file in the “images” folder of the parent directory.

Examples of Relative URLs in Use

Relative URLs are commonly used for internal linking within a website’s pages. They simplify linking within the same domain. For instance, on a website with pages:

  • Main Page: “https://www.example.com/”
  • Products Page: “https://www.example.com/products/”
  • About Page: “https://www.example.com/about/”

A relative URL like “products.html” from the Main Page would lead to “https://www.example.com/products/”.

Advantages and Use Cases

They are more concise than absolute URLs, especially for internal links. When a website’s structure changes, relative URLs require less updating. These URLs can be moved or copied within directories without breaking the link.

Relative URLs reduce redundancy by omitting the protocol and domain, making them shorter and easier to read. They are beneficial for dynamic websites where content appears in various locations but needs consistent linking.

Considerations for Relative URLs

When using relative URLs, a few considerations are important. Understand the base URL from which the relative path is calculated, usually the current page’s URL. Relative URLs rely on the website’s folder structure so that changes can affect links. In deeply nested directories, the destination of a relative link might only be clear with context.

Why Relative URLs Matter

  • Simplifies Internal Linking: Relative URLs make internal linking straightforward and efficient within a website.
  • Easier Website Maintenance: They reduce the effort of updating links when the website’s structure changes since they adjust based on the current page.
  • Flexible and Portable: Relative URLs are portable across directories, allowing easy movement of files without breaking links.
  • Efficient Code: The concise nature of relative URLs helps maintain cleaner and more readable code, especially in larger projects.
  • Enhances Dynamic Content: For websites with dynamic or duplicated content, relative URLs provide consistency in linking.

3. Absolute URL

Absolute URLs are foundational to web navigation, providing a complete and unambiguous path to online resources. Whether linking internally within a website or externally to other domains, absolute URLs ensure accessibility and reliability. Understanding their components and advantages is crucial for web developers, SEO optimization, and maintaining a seamless user experience on the web.

Definition and Characteristics

Absolute URLs are complete web addresses that specify the exact location of a resource on the Internet. Unlike relative URLs, which are concise and rely on a base URL, absolute URLs include the full path, including the protocol (such as “https://” or “http://”), domain name (like “www.example.com”), path, and any query parameters or fragment identifiers. They provide a direct and unambiguous way to access a resource from anywhere on the web.

Components of an Absolute URL

Specifies the method used to access the resource, such as “https://” for secure websites or “http://” for standard websites. The human-readable address of the website, including the subdomain (like “www”), domain (like “example”), and top-level domain (like “.com”). The specific location of the resource within the website’s directory structure, including folders and filenames.

Optional parameters that follow the path and are used to pass information to the web server are separated by a question mark (“?”). Optional, appearing after a hash symbol (“#”) and identifying a specific section within a webpage.

Examples of Absolute URLs

An example of an absolute URL is “https://www.example.com/products/shoes.html”. Here:

  • Protocol: “https://”
  • Domain Name: “www.example.com”
  • Path: “/products/shoes.html”

Another example with query parameters and a fragment identifier could be “https://www.example.com/search?q=shoes#results”.

When to Use Absolute URLs

When linking to resources outside the current domain. For unambiguous resource references. When saving specific pages for later reference and providing accurate and complete URLs for search engines and social media platforms.

Advantages of Absolute URLs

They provide an unambiguous path to the resource. Absolute URLs work from any location on the web. Search engines can accurately index and rank pages based on absolute URLs. Less prone to breaking if a page’s URL structure changes.

Why Absolute URLs Matter

  • Direct Access: Absolute URLs provide a complete and direct path to a resource, ensuring users can access it from anywhere on the web.
  • Global Accessibility: They work universally, making the resource accessible regardless of the user’s location or website they are on.
  • SEO Advantages: Search engines can accurately index and rank pages based on absolute URLs, improving visibility.
  • Link Reliability: Absolute URLs are less prone to breaking if the website’s structure changes, ensuring links remain functional.
  • External Linking: They are essential for linking to resources outside the current domain or website, ensuring users are directed to the correct location.

When to Use Each Type

when to use each type of URL – Standard, Relative, or Absolute. Ensures that links are accurate, maintainable, and accessible across various platforms and situations. Whether developing a website, sharing resources, or optimizing for search engines. Choosing the right type of URL is crucial for a seamless user experience and effective web navigation.

Standard URL

Standard URLs are commonly used for direct navigation to specific web pages. When users need to access a particular webpage directly, a standard URL with the full path, including protocol (like “https://” or “http://”), domain, path, and optional parameters, is used. They are also ideal for bookmarking in web browsers, allowing users to save and revisit web pages easily. When linking to resources on other websites. 

Standard URLs are necessary for providing complete and accurate paths to those external resources. Search engines prefer standard URLs for indexing and ranking webpages, so a well-structured standard URL with relevant keywords can positively impact SEO. Similarly, when sharing webpages on social media platforms, standard URLs ensure that the shared link leads directly to the intended webpage.


Relative URLs are beneficial for internal linking within a website. They are concise and efficient, simplifying the process of linking to pages within the same domain. In websites with frequently changing structures, relative URLs are advantageous for maintenance. If the website’s directory structure is modified, relative URLs automatically adjust to the changes, reducing the effort needed to update links. 

Relative URLs are also portable across directories, making them useful for websites that may be moved to different domains or servers. For websites with dynamic content appearing in multiple locations, relative URLs ensure that the same content is consistently linked across the site.


Absolute URLs are preferred when a complete and direct path is necessary. When linking to resources outside the current domain or website, absolute URLs are essential. They provide a complete and unambiguous path to external resources, ensuring users are directed to the correct location. Absolute URLs are also suitable for bookmarking specific pages exactly as they are, without relying on the current website’s structure. 

Absolute URLs benefit search engine optimization as they can provide a clear signal to search engines about the exact location of a resource, especially when specifying canonical URLs. In resource sharing scenarios with colleagues or collaborators, absolute URLs ensure that the shared link points directly to the intended resource without any ambiguity. For email campaigns or newsletters, where recipients may not be on the website’s domain, absolute URLs are necessary for ensuring the links work correctly regardless of the recipient’s location.

Benefits and Drawbacks

The benefits and drawbacks of each type of URL. Standard, Relative, and Absolute are crucial for effective web development and navigation.

Benefits of Standard URL

  • Versatility: They can be used for various purposes, from direct navigation to bookmarking and sharing on social media.
  • SEO Optimization: Search engines prefer standard URLs for indexing and ranking web pages. A well-structured standard URL with relevant keywords can positively impact SEO.
  • Clarity: Standard URLs provide a clear and complete path to a resource, making it easy for users to understand and navigate.
  • Consistency: They ensure uniformity in web addresses, aiding in communication and understanding across the Internet.
  • Accessibility: Standard URLs work universally, allowing users to access resources from any location on the web.

Drawbacks of Standard URL

  • Length: Standard URLs can be lengthy, especially for pages with complex paths or query parameters. This may make them less visually appealing.
  • Complexity: For users, particularly those unfamiliar with web addresses, standard URLs can appear complex and difficult to remember.
  • Maintenance: If a website’s structure changes, standard URLs may require updating to ensure links remain functional and accurate.
  • External Linking: When linking to external resources, standard URLs can be less efficient than absolute URLs, as they include the full path.

Benefits Relative URLs 

  • Conciseness: They are shorter than absolute URLs, particularly for internal linking within a website.
  • Efficiency: Relative URLs simplify linking to pages within the same domain, reducing the need for lengthy paths.
  • Flexibility: Relative URLs adjust automatically to changes in a website’s directory structure, making them easier to maintain.
  • Portability: They are portable across directories, allowing for easy movement of files without breaking links.
  • Consistency in Dynamic Content: Websites with dynamic content benefit from relative URLs, ensuring consistent linking across the site.

Drawbacks Relative URL

  • Context Dependency: Relative URLs depend on the current page’s location, which can lead to ambiguity if not used carefully.
  • Understanding Required: Users may need to understand the website’s directory structure to interpret relative URLs correctly.
  • Linking Depth: In deeply nested directories, the destination of a relative link might only be immediately clear with context.
  • External Linking: Relative URLs are not suitable for linking to external resources or pages outside the current domain.

Benefits Absolute URL

  • Completeness: They provide a complete and unambiguous path to a resource, particularly useful for external linking.
  • Direct Access: Absolute URLs ensure users are directed to the correct location, especially when sharing resources.
  • Bookmarking Accuracy: Users can bookmark specific pages accurately without relying on the website’s structure.
  • SEO Optimization: Absolute URLs can provide a clear signal to search engines about the exact location of a resource.
  • Email Campaigns: In email campaigns or newsletters, absolute URLs ensure links work correctly regardless of the recipient’s location.

Drawbacks Absolute URL

  • Length: Absolute URLs can be lengthy, especially for pages with long paths or query parameters, making them less visually appealing.
  • Static Path: They are less flexible than relative URLs, as they always point to the same location regardless of the page’s location.
  • Maintenance: If a website’s domain or structure changes, absolute URLs may require updating to avoid broken links.
  • Complexity for Users: Absolute URLs may appear complex to users, particularly those unfamiliar with web addresses.
  • External Linking: When linking to external resources, absolute URLs may not adapt to changes in the linked resource’s location.

Common URL Mistakes to Avoid

By avoiding these common URL mistakes, web developers can create clean, user-friendly, and SEO-friendly URLs that enhance the overall usability and visibility of their websites.

Using Non-Descriptive URLs

A common mistake is using non-descriptive URLs that do not convey the content of the page. URLs like “www.example.com/page1” or “www.example.com/article?id=123” lack context and are not user-friendly. Instead, use descriptive URLs that include relevant keywords and accurately describe the content of the page, such as “www.example.com/best-places-to-visit-in-2022”.

Ignoring URL Structure

Neglecting to pay attention to the structure of URLs can lead to messy and inconsistent links. It’s important to establish a consistent URL structure across the website for easier navigation and understanding. For example, ensure that URLs follow a logical hierarchy, such as “www.example.com/category/subcategory/page”.

Using Complex URLs

Long and complex URLs can be difficult for users to read, remember, and share. Avoid including unnecessary parameters or symbols in URLs. Instead, aim for concise and clean URLs that are easy to type and understand. For instance, “www.example.com/product-category/product-name” is preferable to “www.example.com/category/subcategory/product?productID=12345&color=blue”.

Not Redirecting or Updating URLs

When making changes to a website’s structure or content, failing to redirect old URLs to new ones can result in broken links and lost traffic. Always set up proper redirects (such as 301 redirects) when URLs change to maintain SEO value and ensure a seamless user experience.

Not Checking for Broken Links

Failing to check for broken links in URLs regularly can harm user experience and SEO. Use tools like Google Search Console or website crawlers to identify and fix broken URLs, ensuring a smooth browsing experience for visitors.

Neglecting HTTPS for Security

In today’s internet landscape, HTTPS is crucial for website security and user trust. Neglecting to use HTTPS in URLs can result in insecure connections, potentially exposing sensitive user information to risks. Always ensure that URLs use the secure HTTPS protocol for data encryption and security.


Can I change a Relative URL to an Absolute URL?

Yes, you can convert a Relative URL to an Absolute URL by adding the full domain and protocol. For example, you could turn “../products/product1” into “https://www.example.com/products/product1.”

Are there limitations to the length of URLs?

Yes, URLs should ideally be kept under 2,000 characters.

Very long URLs may only work in some browsers or systems and can be less user-friendly.

Do URLs with special characters affect SEO?

Yes, URLs with special characters can impact SEO if not properly encoded. It’s important to use URL encoding for special characters to ensure search engines read them correctly.

Can I use both Relative and Absolute URLs on the same website?

Yes, it’s common to use both types. Relative URLs are great for internal links, while Absolute URLs are best for external links or when sharing complete addresses.

What happens if I change my domain name?

If you change your domain name, you’ll need to update all Absolute URLs. Please update these to avoid broken links and loss of traffic.


The three types of URLs Standard, Relative, and Absolute are crucial for effective web development. Standard URLs are clear web addresses, vital for navigating, bookmarking, and sharing online. Relative URLs are simple and adjust to changes in a website’s structure, making maintenance easier. They’re perfect for linking within a website. Absolute URLs provide complete paths to external resources, ensuring users find the right pages. They’re essential for SEO and accurate sharing.

By avoiding mistakes like using complex or non-descriptive URLs, developers create user-friendly links. Properly redirecting URLs prevents broken links, maintaining a smooth experience. Remembering URLs are case-sensitive and encoding special characters keeps links working correctly.

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April 22, 2024

Ayesha Khan is a highly skilled technical content writer based in Pakistan, known for her ability to simplify complex technical concepts into easily understandable content. With a strong foundation in computer science and years of experience in writing for diverse industries, Ayesha delivers content that not only educates but also engages readers.

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