It has long been a controversial issue among SEO professionals whether Google prefers shorter or longer URLs when ranking. In Google’s “Ask Googlebo” video series, we finally got an answer to that question, too, from John Mueller, who has regularly clarified misunderstandings and misconceptions about Google’s operation and algorithm over the past few years.
The question was,
“Are shorter URLs different from longer ones, or is it just an SEO myth?”
As it turns out, the length of the URL is taken into account by Google, but not in the sense that many would think.
GOOGLE’S OFFICIAL ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION
The length of the URL is not a ranking factor, so it has no effect on SEO. However, there is one exception. Mueller’s personal preference is to use URLs shorter than 1,000 characters because he says it makes it easier to track the data.
“The direct answer is no. The length of the URL does not matter. URLs are used as identifiers, no matter how long. Personally, I use shorter than 1000 characters, but only because it makes them easier to keep track of. The number of slashes [slashes] is also not important. ”
This suggestion is the same as what we got from Mueller in 2019: it’s worth using URLs shorter than 1000 characters.
WHEN DOES THE LENGTH OF THE URL MATTER?
The only case that Google’s algorithm considers the length of a URL is canonization. When multiple similar URLs have the same page content, Google assigns all page rank marks to a single URL. This is called a canonical URL, and Google displays it in search results.
When Google tries to determine which of these URLs to display, the URL may be taken into account.
Mueller put it this way:
“Currently, there is only one part of our systems that I know is the length of the URL that plays in it – that part is canonization.
Canonization occurs when a page is found more than once on your site and you need to select one to index. If we find a shorter and clearer URL, our systems tend to select it. ”
Mueller further confirmed that canonization has nothing to do with ranking. The length of the URL only affects the appearance of the snippets, but not the ranking.
“This has no effect on rankings. It only affects which URL appears in the search. So, in summary, when it comes to ranking, neither the length of the URL nor the number of slashes matters. Use a URL structure that works for you and keep it for a long time. ”
In his response, Mueller also mentions the effect of slashes (or “slashes”) on ranking, more specifically, that they have no effect on SEO. This, too, stems from an old myth that direct URLs (which have no subdirectories) perform better than split ones.