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What is URL?

URL or Uniform Resource Locator provides the unique location of the resource. Any element displayed on the world wide web has a unique URL dedicated to that element only. The user can access any webpage. The user can use the URL of the website to redirect to the website directly. For example, to directly visit the Tutorial and Example website, the user can directly type www.tutorialandexample.com in the address bar of the browsing engine. The user can also redirect to a particular video with the help of using the URL of the video. Each video or image on the internet has a different URL. You can also create a hyperlink to different web pages using the URL of the webpage.

The Uniform Resource Location provides various information about the website to which it belongs:

  • It contains the name of the protocol implemented to access the website and its content. 
  • The user can also determine the server's location from the URL.
  • It may also contain the port number; this is not always present in the URL.
  • It also contains a fragment identifier.

Let’s take an example to understand this,  https://www.tutorialandexample.com/software-engineering-tutorial; this tells the user that software-engineering-tutorial is a web page located on the server. The address of the server is tutorialandexample.com.

http or https

Two protocols are usually used to access the website. These are http:// or https://, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and the extras in the https://stand for secure.

This is a secure protocol for the information transmitted in an encrypted format. We use two forward slashes to separate the protocols from the rest of the website addresses (//).

www.

The next part in the URL of a resource on the internet is www. It stands for World Wide Web. Though, it is not compulsory to write www. The user can access the website without mentioning it. This part specifies that the resource is available on the web. To access the website, the user can also use http://tutorialandexample.com

tutorialandexample.com

This part of the website is the server and the domain name; the .com is the suffix to the domain name. They determine the location or the organization type that is using the website. The user can access the websites with all domain names. For example, .in stands for India. Any official government website in India uses .gov. It acts as a security feature; as this domain name is reserved for the official government website, no one else can create a website with it. The domain name .com stands for commercial and is used by commercial websites worldwide. Anybody who wants to upload their website on the internet needs to purchase a domain name.

Software-engineering-tutorial

This specifies the name of the element of the web page. The structure of most of the webpages available on the internet has .htm or .html as the extension. There are also videos and images available on the internet. These files can have the following extensions such as .jpg or .gif.

Location of the Uniform Resource Locator

The user can see the website's address in the address bar at the top of the web browser. Google was the first search engine that merged both the address bar of the website and the web browser's search bar. On computers or laptops, the URL is available on the top for the website currently displayed on the screen. It is not only visible when the web site's content is displayed on full screen. On the smartphone, the URL is available at the top of the website, but when the user scrolls down the website's contents, the URL was the website disappears. The user can see the URL by scrolling up the webpage a little. The user can click on the address bar of the web browser to read the complete URL of the website.

Characters in the URL

While typing the URL in the address bar, the user needs to ensure that there is no space between the URL characters. A URL can have alphanumeric characters, but only a few symbols can be directly used in a website. These symbols are !$-_+()*'. The user needs to encode the URL to use any other symbol mentioned above. You can refer to RFC 1738 document to read more about it.

Is URL and the IP address the same?

The web address of the website or the URL is different from the IP address. The URL is the unique address assigned to any element on the internet. At the same time, the IP address is given to a device that can access the service. Any device that is a part of the worldwide web is provided with a unique address to differentiate the device from other on the network. The URL of the webpage is converted into the IP address by DNS. This enables the routers in the network to locate the servers on the web. An IP address is a numeric address that is difficult to remember. Therefore, we use a domain name that the user can easily remember.

Additional Functions of URL

The URL can have additional information attached at the end of it. This information is available in the URL when the URL points to a script. This additional information is called the parameters of the URL. An example of the parameter is the query parameter: this parameter is available at the end of the URL when the user makes a query in the search engine. The parameter contains the additional keywords that were in the query. 

Why do we use the URL?

  • The URL is easier to use than using the IP address. They can be easily remembered, and the user can quickly access the website or content using them.
  • They provide additional to the user. The user also can change the website with just one click.
  • It tells the user a lot about the location of the resource. It provides specific instructions about how to access a resource.
  • When the user searches anything on the web browser, the user can always check the query parameter to see the keywords for which the browser provides the results.
  • A domain name of the website tells the nature of the website and the authority to which it belongs.

What is Uniform Resource Location Redirect?

This is a feature provided by the web server that takes the URL from the user and directs it to another URL. This is very useful when the administrator wants to build a new website and replace the old one. Then the user can redirect the traffic on the previous website to the new website. Different types of redirect can be used to transfer from one website to another using the URL. Some of the redirects are manual redirects, JavaScript, meta tag refreshes, etc. This is also called URL forwarding or domain forwarding, as the old URL is forwarded to the new URL. 

This feature is used for the following purposes:

  • It is used to join two websites. The user can combine two websites without requiring to code the entire website again.
  • It is useful when the user wishes to change the organization's name as the user can redirect the traffic on the previous website to the updated website.
  • It is used to update the web site's content; the user can update the content by sending the user updated content.
  • They are used while performing the testing of the application in the market. This is used in page-split testing.

Disadvantages of URL Redirect

The attacker collects the user's confidential information using a URL redirect. Attackers use them on the web. This cause problem for both the organization and the user. It is actively used in illegal activities such as phishing, where the user is redirected to a fake website that is made similar to the original website. Most modern search engines take preventive measures to stop these attempts of fraud. The most used method to redirect a website is HTTP protocol 3XX series. The series consists of various attributes. Each number indicates certain functions such as:

  • 300: This number has a wide range of choices to redirect the website. The user can choose among various languages.
  • 301: When the user permanently changes the website to another website. This is done when the business name is changed, or the business partners are. The user needs to use this number in such a case.
  • 302: This is used when the website is redirected to any other non-specific website.
  • 303: This is used to display the result of the common gateway interface script.
  • 307: this is used to redirect when the website is being redesigned.

Working on URL Redirect

When the user performs URL Redirect on a website, the website address of the previous website is assigned a new URL. The visitor using the previous address will be redirected to the new website using the new URL. In commercial websites, the homepage is usually converted into a redirect page. They use concurrent messaging that explains the redirect, and the homepage is changed into the redirect page. They also add a meta tag in the source code of the website. This meta tag is not visible to the visitor. If the redirect is not performed properly, it will display a 404- Page Not Found error.

Various techniques to redirect the URL

  • 301 Redirect: This instructs the web browser to always redirect a website to another location. This is a permanent type of redirect. This is one of the most used methods to redirect a website. This is usually used when the user discards a website and develops a new web application; it redirects the traffic from the previous site to the new one. This is used in commercial websites when the website is moved to a new address.

The user can also perform a redirect by using programming languages. Using certain languages, the user can make amendments to the website's pages. This way of redirecting is beneficial for SEO. 

  • 302 Redirect: This is used to temporarily redirect the website to a new location. They are not used often. This is used when the URL of the website is changed to a different address. It uses different HTML status codes to redirect the website. This does not add the new website to the search history as it indexes the original URL and not the updated URL. Its implementation is different in different web browsers.
  • 303 Redirect: This is also called the HTTP 303 redirect; it is implemented to respond to a request for a URI. The user is required to implement the GET method to access the address of the final destination if the request is made for some other URI. This redirect has a defined syntax that must be used to implement it.

Application of URL Redirect

For copying the content of the website

If the user wants to use the same content on multiple pages, they can implement a redirect rather than coding for it again.

When you have changed the domain

When the user wants to change the domain name of the existing website, the user can use this function to prevent the loss of built links.

Having Multiple Domain

The company purchases all the domain names for their website to prevent fraud nowadays. They can use the redirect to transport the user from one domain to another. This also increases the traffic on the website that occurs due to spelling mistakes made by the user. 



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