Are you confused about what’s the difference between a domain name and a URL?
The two terms are often used interchangeably but there is a big difference between them. And if you own a website, it’s essential that you know what each one is.
Below, we explain the difference in the simplest terms. Let’s dive right in.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is a human-readable internet address for a website. For example, wpbeginner.com is a domain name.
Why do we say human-readable though?
Your website runs on a physical device called a server. This is usually owned by hosting companies (like GoDaddy or Bluehost) where you can buy a web hosting plan.
Every device on the internet (be it a web server, laptop, or mobile phone) is assigned a unique ID called an IP address.
This is a string of numbers that look like
Now for users to access your website, they’ll need to open a web browser (like Google Chrome) and connect to your website’s server. And to do that, they’ll need to know your server’s IP address.
Imagine yourself trying to remember every IP address of all the websites you want to visit. It’s simply impossible!
To make things easier for everyone, domain names are assigned to every IP address. Our domain name is
nameboy.com. That’s easier to remember, isn’t it?
All you have to do now is type in “nameboy.com” in your web browser’s address bar to visit our site.
Other examples of domain names include google.com, amazon.com, and youtube.com.
If you’re interested in getting a domain of your own, you can buy a domain name from any domain registrar like Bluehost, Namecheap, Domain.com, and so on. For more on this, see our list: 8 Best Domain Name Registrars (Compared).
Diving in a bit deeper, a domain name usually has 2 parts to it.
- Domain Label – The main name like Nameboy.
- Domain Extension – The part that follows the label like .com, .net, and .edu. Domain extensions are sometimes referred to as TLDs (Top-Level Domains). You can read all about that here: What Is a Top Level Domain? (TLDs Explained + Popular Extensions)
Note: If you use a country-code TLD, then your domain extension could be .us, .co.uk, .nz, .ca and so on.
Now if you create a subdomain, then it gets added to the beginning of your domain name, like blog.nameboy.com.
That’s about all you need to know for now on domain names. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our in-depth guide: What is a Domain and How Does it Work? (Ultimate Guide in Plain English)
What is a URL?
A URL is the complete web address of any page on a website like
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator (sometimes referred to as Universal Resource Locator). It includes more elements than a domain to identify the protocol used, domain name, and file path.
So for instance, our domain name is
nameboy.com. If you were to type this into a browser or search engine, you’ll land on our homepage.
In the address bar, you’ll see “nameboy.com”, but if you double click on the name, it will reveal the URL –
If you were to visit our blog, the URL would become
Like this, a URL identifies any posts and pages on your website.
Now a URL can be divided into different parts:
- Method or Protocol: The method or protocol used to retrieve the file from the server. This is usually HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) in the website URL. If you have an SSL certificate on your site, this will become HTTPS.
- Host Name: This is known as the domain name or a human-friendly text form for the IP address of the server where the file or document is located. For example, nameboy.com.
- Port: This is just a protocol number. It is just a communication endpoint.
- Path: The part of a URL that identifies the location of the file on the server. This is also called a URL slug. So for a particular web page on our site, the URL path could be “how-to-buy-a-domain-name”.
Nowadays, you may notice that most websites don’t have “www.” in the URL. WWW stands for world wide web and people understood that it was a website or something on the Internet when they hear the term “www”.
Now URLs generally don’t carry “www” in them simply because they use more data. Every URL with “www.” includes four extra characters (including the extra period). Since each character requires one byte (or eight bits) of data, a URL with “www.” requires 32 more bits compared to a URL without the prefix.
Now that you know what a URL is, if you run a website, it’s important that you format your URLs in a way that it’s easy for search engines to index your pages. If your website is on WordPress, follow this post from WPBeginner: What is a SEO Friendly URL Structure in WordPress.
Now that you know how different domain names and URLs are, let’s look at what makes them similar.
What’s Common Between a Domain Name and URL?
It’s interesting to note that very URL usually bears the domain name.
Next, both the domain name and URL are typed into the browser address bar to access a website or web page.
When you type in a domain name, you’ll usually be taken to the homepage URL of the website.
But URLs could be the homepage or any specific page or post of that website.
That’s it! We hope you found this post helpful in learning the difference between domain names and URLs.
Up next, if you’re looking to create your own website, get started here: How to Start a Small Business Website (Step by Step).
We’ve also handpicked these resources for you to learn more about domain names:
- How to Check if a Domain Name is Available (5 Easy Ways)
- 19 Powerful Domain Name Generators for the Perfect Website Name
- How to Check a Domain’s History Before Buying it (Steps + Tips)
These posts will help you get started with a domain name and your very own website. It’s easy and affordable for anyone.
You can get started for as low as $2.75 per month with Bluehost. You’ll get a web hosting plan with a domain name, SSL, CDN, business email, and so much more included.Get the Exclusive Bluehost Deal