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URL: User-friendly, keyword-optimized, or both?

     
5:27 pm on Aug 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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As you might have heard I'm helping redesign a Spanish site.

We are siloing everything out.

So as a hypothetical:

fruit.com / apples / red-apples / macintosh

But on the Spanish side the longtail keywords are even longer than English. So my URLs are ending up about about 60 to 80 characters when I make sure the primary, secondary KWs are used as folder names. I'm being as concise as possible while basically retaining the KW.

Some think shorter URLs rank better. So should I snip down my KWs in the URL, essential getting rid of them, in order to have a shorter URL? Or just go with the 80 characters?

Thanks!
7:11 pm on Aug 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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One can be too granular. Most times folks search for the final, not all the "related" that get to the same place. The page/destination should contain all applicable "keywords" ... the URL not so much. That said, there is empirical evidence that keyword urls do have some benefit.

Me, I like the shortest url I can develop that makes sense to me as a webmaster, and at the same time is less baggage for the user (though clicking a serp certainly has no "baggage").
8:21 pm on Aug 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The OCD in me likes these type of URLs. but in reality if the information is important you should have it in bread crumbs on the page so that the user actually sees it (along with the structured data so Google can understand). A lot of mobile browsers don't even show the URL if you scroll down the page anymore.

It doesn't matter nearly as much as it use too but I usually have the keywords in the url (usually whatever the page title is) but don't over do it. Google still (I believe) does highlight the keyword in the url in the SERPS .

Oh yeah one other thing, the problem with categories in the url is that if the product ever changes categories you are going to have to do a redirect to the new category. That's why I now just use the product name and don't include the categories in the URL. I had to many products/services moving around that it became a headache. This also allows the product to belong to different categories without duplicate content.
10:24 pm on Aug 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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>>This also allows the product to belong to different categories without duplicate content.

this for me is a very important point, in the area i work products can easily be in 3 or 4 categories.

personally i've changed to numeric urls the last few years (similar to WebmasterWorld actually), there may be benefic from keywords in the url, however to me, these long url full of keywords just look spammy and i've always felt that one day they will be penalised.
1:05 pm on Aug 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Do not construct long urls to include your "keywords". It is a mistake that will result in a very inflexible site, with all kinds of dupe content problems, and will not help in ranking.

Re URL structure, I suggest looking at this thread...

How important is it to organize pages into directories?
Sept 2011
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4364322.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Study the posts by g1smd. Note that there's a bunch of disagreement about whether the url should include the folder hierarchy. g1smd comes down strongly on the side no, the url should not include that hierarchy. You can (and should) still have a hierarchy in your nav structure and in the folders and categories of your site, but the folders should not be part of the url name.

As g1smd puts it...
While the old way was to have a folder heirarchy for the site and show that structure in the URL, nowadays that will often get you into trouble.

The problem comes when a deep content page might be listable in several categories. The deep page will have multiple URLs, with a different path above it. Using breadcrumb navigation simply adds to the problems.

We had a fair amount of discussion about the questions raised by this, and about many confusing side issues, in this forum from roughly 2011 to 2015, and much of that is summarized in the discussion I'll note below, which IMO is one of the best we've had here, not really on site structure, but on url structure. It reviews or mentions many of the issues and discussions I refer to above, and links to many previous discussions that I feel are worth reading if you want a solid overview.

The thread is....

Rewards and Risks of Changing to Hierarchical URL Structure
Aug, 2015
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4760622.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Worth noting again that keywords in the url have at best a miniscule effect on ranking. IMO, where they really help is in what gets highlight in the serp.

Also, FWIW, with regard to this thread, again... I believe it's a bad approach to try to target longtail by creating pages with titles or filenames containing many vocabulary variants.

Also, nav structure is not the same as url structure. That also can get into a long discussion by itself.

4:53 pm on Aug 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks guys!

@RobertCharlton

Reading through now. That's an in-depth discussion! Thanks!
6:02 pm on Aug 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Interesting that already in 2011, the assumption was that there is no relationship between the URL and the site’s physical directory structure. Instead your CMS, whether commercial or hand-rolled, is pulling material out of a database, building a page, and then making up an URL that probably includes one or more “directory” slashes even though there are no directories.

I feel old.

FInal post in the linked thread:
Putting everything at the root is like throwing a bunch of paper into a filing drawer with no folders, tabs, labels, etc.
10:53 am on Aug 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Putting everything at the root is like throwing a bunch of paper into a filing drawer with no folders, tabs, labels, etc.


I'm not sure I agree. A book has all its pages in a single cover, but they are numbered and ordered in a way that makes sense for the publisher and the reader. A lot depends, therefore, on whether your site is like a book (where having everthing "at the root" maked perfect sense, and accords with Tangor's aim to have "the shortest url I can develop that makes sense to me as a webmaster, and at the same time is less baggage for the user"), or like a library.

For a site of a few hundred pages or less, what is wrong with a short URL with a descriptive page name and site structure detemined by menus? For a site with thousands of pages, you probably need some sort of directory structure just to keep track of it all. There is no harm at all in having page names that correspond with the page subject in either approach, but it isn't going to rocket you up the SERPs. I favour having the simplest approach that makes it easy for webmaster and user to know where they are and go where they want.

"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple." (Woody Guthrie)
 

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