It's easy to feel lost in the terminology surrounding the Domain Name System (DNS). There are many acronyms and phrases that can be difficult to understand. In our key terms series, we break down key industry terms to help you navigate the .au domain. Here, we take a look at Uniform Resource Locators (URLs).
A domain name is a component of a website’s URL, otherwise known as the website address. URLs contain additional components that help translate a domain name to an IP address.
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS): appears at the beginning of a URL (https://www.auDA.org.au). HTTP and HTTPS are similar, however, the presence of HTTPS in a URL indicates that the website is operating over a secure connection and that the data between the user and the server is encrypted. This is particularly important for websites that ask users for secure information such as passwords, credit card information or bank details.
- Subdomain: a prefix that comes before the domain name in the URL (https://www.auDA.org.au or https://whois.auDA.org.au). Subdomains allow users to separate content with different needs and designs within their websites, while keeping it linked under one domain name. ‘www’ is the most common subdomain. Other common subdomains include ‘m’ for mobile websites (m.example.com.au), ‘blog’ for blogs (blog.example.com.au), and ‘store’ for online stores (store.example.com.au).
- Domain name: is the name registrants choose to showcase their business, organisation, personal interests and much more (e.g. auda.org.au). Domain names are an important part of a digital brand identity and choosing a name that is easy to spell and pronounce makes it easier to communicate to internet users, including potential customers.
- Second level domain: the string of characters (or label) that comes before the Top Level Domain (TLD). In .au, second level domains can reflect the individual namespaces e.g. the com.au or org.au namespaces, which have their own purpose and requirements for who can register to use it – com.au for commercial entities and org.au for not-for-profits. Second level domains can also reflect the “name” organisations or individuals register “directly” at the second level e.g. auda.au.
- Top Level Domain (TLD): the string of characters that follow the last ‘.’ in a URL. The two types of TLDs are generic TLDs (gTLDs) and country code TLDs (ccTLDs). gTLDs are three or more characters at the end of a URL (e.g. .com or .afl). ccTLDs are two-character TLDs reserved for a specific country (e.g. .au). In March 2022, auDA launched .au direct, Australia’s newest namespace, which allows people to register domain names at the second level, directly before the top level ‘.au’, for the first time. These shorter, simpler names have proven popular with registrants.