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Are there penalties for long urls with 8 or 9 hyphens



7:12 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am doing a mod_rewrite. Can you please tell me whether long urls will cause penalties?
For example, http://www.example.com/productcategory-productname-productype-productnumber-productseries-a-b-c-5.htm

Would this url be penalized by Google or Yahoo for having too many hyphens (i.e., 8 or 9) or being too long and wrapping underneath. I have some very long product titles but I want to capture the customer using a stemming approach.


[edited by: encyclo at 9:08 pm (utc) on Jan. 15, 2007]
[edit reason] switched to example.com [/edit]


7:31 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

This is an SEO question, and not related to Apache. However, to give some perspective, no, that URL won't be "penalized," except in terms of usability -- No-one is ever going to bother to type in that URL or attempt to communicate it to a friend -- "Hey, I just found this great Widget, but the URL's too long to tell you on the phone."

G and the others penalize blatant and obvious violations of their Webmaster Guidelines. All else is handled by filters. Webmasters who think they've been singled out for a "penalty" usually have an inflated sense of their site's importance to the SEs, or a lack of understanding of the sheer size of the Web and the automation needed to handle it -- or both.

For the sake of usability, I'd suggest you look at ways to shorten up that URL to a reasonable length, such as using RewriteMaps to invoke a script to call your data base to look up the "friendly" URL and get the parameters needed to invoke your page-generation script, or moving this logic into the page-generation script itself. In any case, get rid of all the redundant information, and try to work towards something like:


No need for all that redundant cruft, and no need for the fake ".htm" on the end.



7:58 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Above you said that it would only hurt in terms of usability but below in this previous quote you mention that a long url may trigger "site quality flags." Are these flags given by the search engines that could hurt SEO or just flags by individual webmasters who you are trying to backlink with? Also, do you think that if I just had the exact same product names in a dynamic url with hyphens separating as I did a rewritten url that I would get be given the same ranking and stemming power on a particular product given everything else being equal?

"You can make your friendly URL *longer* so that it contains not only the title of the page or name of the product, but also the product number. mod_rewrite can then strip off the title/name, and pass only the product number to products.php, if that sounds like something you'd want to do. But be careful not to make the friendly URL too long, or it will look spammy and may trigger site-quality flags."


8:43 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


I use very-long-URLs-for-picture-names-to-give-image-search-all-the-clues-it -can-possibly-want-for-example.jpg and it works great.

I fact, I have some deliberately so long as to hinder copying the files (ie scraping the content) in a dumb-ass way... It's interesting to watch some of the copybots twist and burn on 800+ byte URLs!



[edited by: encyclo at 9:08 pm (utc) on Jan. 15, 2007]
[edit reason] spliced from duplicate thread [/edit]


10:17 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It may help to use directories/subdirectories in your URL's from directory siloing perspective.


10:21 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I think that domain names with more then 3 hyphens are flagged internally in Google as being potentially spammy - the more hyphens the more potential - and the same may happen on a lesser extent for the whole URL.

The URL should not be packed with keywords for the sake of packing keywords, it should be as short as possible.

URLs can get very long. Look at some of the deep categories at the ODP for example. However, the URLs there follow the site structure/architecture and so it is a valid method.


11:40 am on Jan 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Never forget Quadrille's Oft-Quoted 14th Law

More than one hyphen is international shorthand for idiot webmaster; More than two hyphens is Galaxy-wide shorthand for "I'd be a spammer if only I knew how"

Who's counting? Not me. But it's the look of the thing; would you really spend money at [my-wonderful-domain.info...]

There's no certainty that SEs will penalize such sites; somehow I don't think they'd need to! No quality directory would ever list such a URL, and few webmasters would, for fear of breaking their own code!

Much more important than SEO rules, are the rules of common sense and good design. Multiple hyphens and too-long URLs ignore both.


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