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How does the length of a URL affect SEO?

November 2, 2021 0 comments

How does the length of a URL affect search engine optimization and search rankings of a web page?

The common belief is that a URL should be short and without too much crawl depth. However, is it just a myth, or does a lengthy URL really have a negative impact on SEO? Moreover, if the length of a URL does not have any effect, how long can we make a URL without having any impact?

This question regarding the length of URLs was just posed to Google’s John Mueller in a recent Ask Googlebot video on YouTube.

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

Google’s John Mueller clarified that the length of a URL does not affect SEO in the way that most people think. That’s because Google simply uses URLs as identifiers.

“The direct answer is no. The URL length doesn’t matter. We use URLs as identifiers, it doesn’t matter how long they are.”

Having said that, John also shared his personal preference to keep URLs less than 1,000 characters.

“Personally, I try to keep them shorter than 1,000 characters, but that’s just to make monitoring easier.”

This advice is in line with what John Mueller shared back in 2019 — that it is recommended to keep URLs less than 1,000 characters.

In addition to the length of the URLs, John also mentioned that “the number of slashes in there also doesn’t matter.” 

According to John Mueller, it means that there are no benefits of a flat URL structure (with fewer subdirectories or slashes in the URL).


No effects of long URLs whatsoever?


So does this mean that there are absolutely zero effects of long URLs?

John highlighted that there is one instance when the length of the URL can become a factor and have an effect, i.e., canonicalization.

“I’m currently only aware of one part of our systems where the 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 we have to pick one URL to use for indexing. 

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

He further clarified that canonicalization has nothing to do with rankings — but the appearance of search snippets.

“This does not affect ranking. It’s purely a matter of which URL is shown in the search.”

John summarized his suggestions in the following words:

“So, to sum up, when it comes to search rankings, neither the URL length nor the number of slashes matter. Use a URL structure that works for you and which you can keep for the long run.”