Does the URL length influence search engine optimization

SEO friendly urls

Definition of "URL"

The URL (abbreviation for “Uniform Resource Locator”) of a website is understood to be the unique address of this page on the Internet, i.e. what is often referred to in everyday language as the “Internet address”. A URL is the unique path that leads to a specific resource within a protocol. The URL of a website consists of the domain and the exact path of the individual page. To call up a specific page on the Internet, both the URL and the IP address can be entered in the address bar in the browser. The IP address is also entered in the form of a URL, for example as http://192.168.0.1.

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In addition to improving the user experience, the design of the URL is also relevant for the search engine optimization (SEO) of a website. For this reason, the components of a URL are first explained below and then a few points that should be considered when optimizing the URL are listed.

Components of a URL

Basically, a URL is made up of the following components:

Illustration: The components of a URL, Author: Seobility

Network protocol

The first part of the URL specifies which network protocol the browser should use, i.e. the way in which data is transmitted over the Internet. The HTTP protocol (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is usually used to access websites via a browser. A more secure alternative to this is HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). Other known network protocols are, for example, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) for transferring files or SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) for transferring e-mails.

Third-level domain (or sub-domain)

The third-level domain “www” (world wide web) has become the standard for Internet addresses in the course of time, but is not absolutely necessary for a URL.

Further subdomains can be, for example, shop.domain.de or blog.domain.de, which refer to separate areas of a website.

Second-level domain (or first-level domain)

The second-level domain contains the actual name of an Internet presence (e.g. "seobility") and can be purchased from various hosting providers.

Top-level domain

The top-level domain represents the ending of a domain. Well-known domain endings are, for example, “de” (Germany), “com” (commercial) or “net” (network).

File path

The file path contains the name of the file called and its storage location.

The path can also be followed by dynamic parameters that determine, for example, the structure of a page. For example, in an online shop, the displayed products can be sorted according to popularity, price, etc.

Search engine optimization of the URL (SEO)

Illustration: SEO-friendly URLs - Author: Seobility - License: CC BY-SA 4.0

In principle, search engines are able to process almost any URL, but an SEO-friendly URL can positively influence the evaluation by search engines like Google. In addition, a clear and meaningful URL is also more appealing to the user and can often be implemented with little effort, which is why optimizing the URL is a task that every webmaster should tackle. The most important aspects that should be considered when SEO of a URL are listed and explained below.

Dynamic parameters and session IDs

As mentioned above, a URL can contain dynamic parameters such as session IDs. In this case, a URL could look something like this:

http://www.example.com/index.php?id=123

The example shows that such URLs are not easy for the viewer to read and understand. In addition, the use of dynamic parameters harbors the risk that a page can be reached under several URLs and thus causes problems with duplicate content. Furthermore, when using session IDs, it can happen that a previously indexed session is later no longer valid. Instead of the expected content, an error message appears (e.g. “Your session has expired”). Legible session IDs in the URL can also pose a security risk. For these reasons, the use of such dynamic parameters should be avoided as far as possible.

Instead, it is advisable to use clear and “speaking” URLs, by means of which the user can easily recognize which page he is going to. Such a URL could look like this, for example:

http://www.example.com/schuhe/sneakers/adidas.html

By dispensing with dynamic parameters in the URL, it appears compact and is easier to read. In addition, the URL structure of the website is made clear by means of directories (“/ shoes /”, “/ sneakers /”, ...) and a specific document in this hierarchy is highlighted through the use of a file name (“adidas.html”).

However, if the use of dynamic parameters cannot be avoided on a website, it is essential to use canonical links for such URLs in order to prevent different parameters from creating multiple URLs for the same content or being indexed by Google.

Furthermore, instead of session IDs, cookies can be saved to identify users.

Directories

The use of directories in the URL of a website gives a quick impression of the URL structure of the sub-pages. You should nest from general main directories to special subdirectories (e.g. clothing> shoes> sneakers). However, so that the user of the website does not lose the overview, a maximum of 5 directory levels should be used. Search engine crawlers such as Google also limit the number of subdirectories that they follow, as this can avoid forwarding errors to an ever deeper page structure, for example.

The SEO trend is even more towards the use of only 1-2 directory levels. A “clothing> shoes> sneakers” structure is simply converted into a directory with the name “clothing-shoes-sneakers”. The actual pages are then no longer stored in the subdirectories, but are anchored directly in the "root directory" by specifying an ID, e.g. /adidas-sneaker-gtx-12345.html

Such a structure avoids directory hierarchies that are too deep and thus prevents very deeply anchored directories and pages from being classified by Google as less important than pages and directories that are close to the "root level".

Furthermore, it should be ensured that each directory can be called without a subpage, ie with “/schuhe/sneakers.html”, “/ shoes /” should also be available as a directory and contain the selection of subpages in this directory in order to ensure a good user experience. To create an experience.

length

Long URLs can be confusing for the user and in the worst case even discourage potential visitors from visiting a website. Simple and clear structures of the URLs are therefore advantageous for both visitors and search engines. The visitor, for example, gets an impression of what the content of the page is waiting for him. If a URL is too long, this overview is lost. In addition, short and clear URLs can be memorized more easily.

To keep URLs legible, the entire URL should not be longer than 140 characters. This includes domain name, directory path, file name and any parameters. For example, if you are already using a long domain name, you should pay particular attention to the length limit. The following applies to the URL length: as short as possible and as long as necessary.

Keywords

Similar to the page title or the meta description, the URL of a website should also contain the most important keywords, since the keywords contained in the URL are shown in bold in the search result snippet on Google. This makes it easy to increase the click-through rate in the search results pages (SERPs).

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