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Anatomy of a Web Address

If you already know how to read a web address or URL (Universal Resource Locator, pronounced “you are ell”), skip this section. Otherwise, consider the web address https://www.googleguide.com/searchEngines/google/searchLeader.html. Here’s what it all means:

http transfer protocol (type of information being transferred)
www.googleguide.com website name, host name
googleguide second-level domain name
com top-level domain name
searchEngines directory name (major category)
google sub-directory name (sub-category)
searchLeader file name (a file within the directory)
html file format

Here’s a list of some common top-level domain names. Note that some sites don’t follow these conventions:

.edu educational site (usually a university or college)
.com commercial business site
.gov U.S. government/non-military site
.mil U.S. military sites or agencies
.net networks, Internet service providers, organizations
.org non-profit organizations and others

Because the Internet was created in the United States, “US” was not originally assigned to U.S. domain names; however, it’s used to designate American state and local government hosts, including many public schools, and commercial entities, e.g., well.sf.ca.us. The domain .ca represents Canada, unless it’s followed by .us, in which case it represents California.

Domain Codes State
.ca.us California
.nv.us Nevada
.tx.us Texas

Other countries have their own two letter codes as the top level of their domain names — although many non-US sites use other top-level domains (such as .com):

Domain Codes Country
.ca Canada
.de Germany
.dk Denmark
.jp Japan
.il Israel
.uk United Kingdom
.za South Africa

To limit results to a single site or domain, specify the site name (e.g., www.googleguide.com or googleguide.com) or a top-level domain name (e.g., .com or .edu) in Google’s domain selector.

tags (keywords): ,

This page was last modified on: Tuesday May 1, 2007

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By Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek who aren't Google employees. For permission to copy & create derivative works, visit Google Guide's Creative Commons License webpage.