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Does URL length affect SEO?

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Does URL length affect SEO? Shorter URLs may look nicer, but is there any benefit to search rankings? Google’s John Mueller answers.

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

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

The following question is answered by Google’s John Mueller:

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

In his response we learn URL length isn’t the difference maker some think it is. Although there’s one case in which it does play a role in search.

Read Mueller’s full answer below.

Google’s John Mueller On URL Length

URL length doesn’t matter for SEO, Mueller explains. Except for the one situation where it might.

As a personal preference Mueller tries to keep URLs under 1,000 characters because it’s easier to track the data that way.

“The direct answer is no. The URL length doesn’t matter. We use URLs as identifiers, it doesn’t matter how long they are. Personally, I try to keep them shorter than 1,000 characters, but that’s just to make monitoring easier. The number of slashes in there also doesn’t matter.”

This advice is consistent with a recommendation he gave back in 2019 when he first started suggesting URLs should be under 1,000 characters.

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

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

That URL is referred to as the canonical URL and it’s what users end up seeing in search results.

In the process of deciding which URL to show in search results, Google may consider the length of the URLs as one of the factors.

“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.”

Mueller clarifies that canonicalization has nothing to do with rankings.

In short— the length of a URL could affect the appearance of search snippets, but does not affect search rankings.

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

When Mueller mentions slashes in URLs he’s speaking to another SEO myth that flat URL structures rank better.

Thinking it 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

That’s wasted effort, as Mueller has stated there’s no benefit to a flat URL structure.
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by Matt Southern
source: SEJ