Does URL length affect SEO?

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Does Google prefer shorter URLs to longer URLs? It’s an SEO myth that won’t go away. Here’s when URL length matters and when it isn’t.

The length of the URL is the topic of discussion in the final installment of the Ask Googlebot video series on YouTube.

The following question is answered by John Mueller of Google:

“Do shorter URLs really have an impact compared to long URLs or is this just another SEO myth? “

In his response, we learn that the length of the URL is not the difference some think. Although there is one case in which it plays a role in research.

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Read Mueller’s full answer below.

Google’s John Mueller on URL Length

The length of the URL doesn’t matter for SEO, says Mueller. Except for the one situation where it could be.

On a personal level, Mueller tries to keep URLs under 1000 characters, because it’s easier to track data that way.

“The straightforward answer is no. The length of the URL does not matter. We use URLs as identifiers, regardless of their length. Personally, I try to keep them below 1000 characters, but that’s just to make it easier to keep track of. The number of slashes doesn’t matter either.

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This advice is consistent with a recommendation he gave in 2019 when he started suggesting that URLs should be less than 1,000 characters.

The only area in Google’s ranking systems where URL length can play a role is canonicalization.

When multiple similar URLs have the same content on the page, Google aggregates all of the signals from those pages into one URL.

This URL is called a canonical URL and is what users end up seeing in search results.

When deciding which URL to display in search results, Google may consider URL length to be one of the factors.

“Currently I only know of one part of our systems where URL length plays a role: that part is canonicalization.

Canonicalization is what happens when we find multiple copies of a page on your website and need to choose a URL to use for indexing.

If we find a shorter, clearer URL, our systems tend to select that one.

Mueller points out that canonization has nothing to do with rankings.

In short, the length of a URL can affect the appearance of search snippets, but does not affect search ranking.

“It doesn’t affect the ranking. It is purely a question of which URL is displayed in the search. So, to sum up, when it comes to search rankings, neither the length of the URL nor the number of slashes matters. Use a URL structure that works for you and that you can stick to for the long term.

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When Mueller mentions forward slashes in URLs, he is talking about another SEO myth that flat URL structures rank better.

Believing this will affect rankings, some sites shorten their URLs by flattening the structure.

A URL like: homepage.com/blog/blog-title

Would become: homepage.com/blog-title

This is a wasted effort, as Mueller said there is no benefit to a flat URL structure.

Source: Google search center


Featured Image: YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral


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